On Tuesday, April 23, 2013 University of Arizona (UA) student Dean Saxton aka Brother Dean Samuel royally pissed off a lot of fellow students when he counter-protested their well-publicized Take Back The Night event, carrying a placard that read, “You Deserve Rape.”
If You’re Asking For It, You Deserve To Get It
Essentially, the UA junior who is studying civics and religious studies believes that if women dress and act “immodestly” they’re asking to be sexually assaulted.
Saxton, a junior studying classics and religious studies, said his sermon was meant to convey that “if you dress like a whore, act like a whore, you’re probably going to get raped.”
“I think that girls that dress and act like it,” Saxton said, “they should realize that they do have partial responsibility, because I believe that they’re pretty much asking for it.”
UA’s Dean of Students Office received stacks of written complaints, emails and multiple phone calls demanding official reprisals against Saxton. Somewhat shockingly, the refused to do anything against the controversial student preacher under the grounds of his being protected speech.
Why Saxton Is Right
Despite the outrage of many, Saxton is right in his belief that women who dress in an overly sexualized manner, those who overtly and publicly act in a commensurate manner, and/or those who just fail to display certain basic forms of common sense are setting themselves up to be sexually assaulted. As such, they must and do share some of the responsibility for such an attack happening to them in particular.
Like it or not, when women dress or act in such a manner as to be labeled “slutty” or “whorish” those women have lowered their value in the eyes of many and dehumanized themselves in the eyes of some. They’ve also turned themselves into “soft targets” which will likely cause sexual predators to choose them as victims over other women.
If women are truly to be considered the equals of men then they must be held to the same standards of personal responsibility as their male counterparts. Since the many variations of, “He was asking for it,” don’t bring outrage when some guy does something untoward and/or stupid and gets beat down, the same standard must be applied by society to women as well.
Why Saxton Is Wrong
Firstly and most importantly, no woman deserves to be raped because of how she dresses or because she acts in a manner that would by normative values indicate that she was promiscuous. Like it or not, statements to the effect that these women deserve to be sexually assaulted de facto excuse the rapist(s) in question.
What is worse it that this idea was long ago co-opted by defense attorneys and used in defense of their rapist clients. These lawyers have not only enjoyed a certain amount of success by attacking the moral character of rape victims, they’ve fostered a court environment that makes women almost as afraid of reporting rape as being raped.
To put it bluntly, while a woman ethically and practically must bear some measure of responsibility for the negative consequences of her choices, such arguments have no place in a court of law.