Best News & Current Affairs Blog (2011 & 2012) and Jamaican Blogger of the Year (2011) at The Jamaica Blog Awards.

Don’t Blame My Vagina : How “Slut Shaming” Legtimizes Rape


Editor’s Note : The views expressed below are not my own. Karen Lloyd (@Mz_Karizma) makes her debut on Veritas dealing with the issue of rape and the unfortunate perception that sometimes it is the woman’s fault. Read. Comment. Enjoy.

What did my vagina ever do to you? Yes I know my short skirt titillates your senses but that’s no invitation for sex. There is no invitation until and unless I explicitly engage you for those purposes. I am not inviting you for sex when I am skimpily dressed nor when I accept an invitation to your house after a date.

Slut shaming is the act of calling a woman a slut because of how she acts, what she wears and her choice and number of sexual partners. This is socially dangerous as it leads to the legitimization and acceptance of sexual offenses against women. It is much easier to see rape as acceptable when we deem the victim as ‘loose’.

Slut. Whore. Harlot. She called it on herself.

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Allow me to make this explicitly clear : It is NEVER the victim’s fault that she was raped, no matter what you think of her lifestyle. If a woman chooses to sleep with multiple men concurrently that is her prerogative. Do encourage her to keep it safe but that’s as far as your input goes. The truth is, whether she has two, twenty or two-hundred sexual partners, it will not be a deterrent to a rapist. Rape is almost never about the victim’s choices but about the rapist’s need for power. Let us therefore put our energies where they ought to go. Let us teach boys and men that the bodies of women are not theirs to treat as they wish. Let us teach them that women are not property. Why not teach them that women are not merely sexual objects to be used and abused? Let us task the men in our lives to respect women.

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I’ve had the (un)fortunate opportunity of witnessing a rape trial and it was one of the worst things I’ve experienced in my entire life. The victim, a young woman of 19 years old, was the one on trial. She was forced to re-live the horrible ordeal, detail by gory detail, and was made to feel like she deserved what happened to her. Details about how ‘bad’ of a young girl she was (based on the number of men she allegedly slept with) and what she was wearing when the incident happened, were at the centre of the trial. This is the number one reason why rapes are under reported and why perpetrators walk free. It is women who bear the burden to prove that they’re ‘chaste’ and don’t deserve to be raped. No one deserves to be raped. We must do better by and for our women.

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As a regular walker of the Twitter streets, let me speak to tweeters directly. Twitter is the land of egos and people who live for RTs and a few laughs. To this end, we seem to take pride in ripping women to shreds about their sex lives, in calling them sluts and whores. We revel in slut-shaming and we need to start thinking about the consequences of our actions. It is easy to sit behind a computer screen and forget that there is a real world beyond it. A world where women are vilified for doing the same things that men do. A world where women are told that it is their duty to ensure that they are not raped instead of one that holds men accountable for their crimes. It is high time that we let go off the nonsense that “It’s just Twitter”. Twitter is as real as my gay friends (Get it?). Twitter isn’t and will never operate in a vacuum separate from real life nuances. We have to stop hiding behind this cloak and take responsibility for the things we say and do.

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As a woman I am increasingly terrified of walking on the street, of taking taxis, of going out on dates – any situation that could result in me being raped (which is almost any). This is shameful in a world (and country) that boldly claims that I am free. I am not free as long as I have to constantly worry about sexual assault. I am not free as long as women face the task of proving why they don’t deserve to be raped. I am not free as long as I have to think about the douche bags who will call into question the clothes I wear, the number of men I sleep with and will call me a slut if I happen to be the next victim of a rapist.

Let us all pledge to be more socially conscious. If not for ourselves, for the women in our lives who deserve better than to be treated with the disdain that a lot of women have to meander every day of their lives. Let us do it for our mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts and friends. Let us do it to preserve the humanity we have in us.

Hands off my vagina.

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20 responses

  1. It doesn’t help that our culture views our women as ‘sex meat’ unless it’s our mother or sister.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

  2. Fuju

    Strong points..I agree

    January 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

  3. The fact that I did not need to approve your comment shows you have read, visited and commented on my blog before. It is unfortunate that you have chosen to hide behind a fake email address and wage such a personal attack. I pray you, explain how her opinions are null and void and what does her being a feminist have to do with that?

    January 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

  4. Idiocy is not something that you should strive to make a virtue of.

    January 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm

  5. Janoy JJM

    Really don’t see how the issue of rape could be “loopsided” given the fact that its the woman who has to live with the negative effects of it and its ridiculous that you’d come and say something so Idiotic and then leave like a bitch…

    January 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm

  6. Karen A. Lloyd

    Hi there ‘I Hate Karen’, I am indeed a feminist and it does inform my views on certain issues. Maybe if you read something other than twitter you’d know that’s not a bad thing.

    I sincerely hope you look past whatever problems you have with me and instead read the post on its own merit.

    January 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

  7. “Tie the hiefer, loose the bull” has never seemed a more true statement.

    January 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

  8. Ok, someone doesn’t get what “dignify with a response” means. Bless your heart and your small mind. I get that you are likely in a very sad and lonely place. I have deduced that Karen likely unfollowed or blocked you or maybe you are one of those followers who follow people you secretly hate. It’s sad for you all around. I sincerely hope that the message from the post is not lost on you and that you are never touched by such a tragic event touching you or anyone you care for. It goes without saying that I do hope you are not supporting rapists and instead are just blinded by your “hate” for Karen. That hate can be treated at least and more importantly, affects no one but you. I LOVE that your name has the name of the person you hate. It shows the power she has and lets me know I made a great choice in having her as a friend.

    P.S. If you happen to see any haters out there who are out of work, tell them Nas is available for being hated on. Bless

    January 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm

  9. Edit: “you are never touched by such a tragic event touching you”- change touched to affected. Ok, bye!

    January 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm

  10. Jae

    It is most unfortunate that it has come to this. One can only hope that the ‘I Hate Karen’ person is not a female but I might be asking for much. Karen kudos on an excellent debut blog post. The first two sentences sum it up quite well. Rape is never the victim’s fault, regardless of what they were wearing or how they behaved (even with the rapist).

    The comment above which started this debacle proves how ignorant so many of us are. I am curious why there would be a problem if a feminist writes a critique on the discourse and treatment of (female) victims of sexual violence. Who is better to articulate this point but someone who has either been a victim or is likely to be one? We don’t need to agree with the ideologies of feminism, whether radical or tamed, we just need to be empathetic the situation. For too long we have shamed the victims of sexual violence into thinking they have brought this on to themselves.

    Let us all make a concerted effort to champion the cause of women’s rights — surely we can agree on that. Let us protect the humanity and dignity of the victim and ensure justice (not through vigilantism) is served.

    January 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm

  11. Excelent piece Karen, the truth can not and will not be hidden under a rock, even when persons want it. Looking foward to more from you.

    January 22, 2013 at 10:06 pm

  12. So because you’re an advocate for gender equality you defeat the purpose of speaking about gender inequality?
    Look here… *kmt* Go read a book and take a seat.

    January 22, 2013 at 10:45 pm

  13. Sha-Nina

    Why does it matter that she is a feminist? Does she have valid points? ThAt I think is what needs to be looked at. I agree with Karen’s post. I have a choice and right to sleep with whomever I choose and that should not be the deciding factor whether I am a victim of rape. If a prostitute did not come to an agreement with an intended client n he has sex with her. It is still rape. As long as a woman says no. It is RAPE

    January 22, 2013 at 10:54 pm

  14. Kymani

    Very good piece Karen. It has gone on too long where the victims are blamed for the sick behaviour of the rapist.

    January 23, 2013 at 8:41 am

  15. HughH

    Karen, this article is one of the best I’ve read on this topic, bar-none, I am smiling at the inspiration I felt to know such well written and this clearly posited thoughts are now a part of cyberspace on such a global issue. Good stuff. As you aptly said let’s put the emphasis where it out to go, “let’s us teach boys and men that the bodies of women are not theirs to treat as they wish…..that women are not property.. that women are to be respected” … I’m game.

    January 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm

  16. . Let us teach boys and men that the bodies of women are not theirs to treat as they wish. Let us teach them that women are not property. Why not teach them that women are not merely sexual objects to be used and abused? Let us task the men in our lives to respect women.

    Stopped reading here. I just went to by a Dragon Stout at the bar, and ran into a skin-bleacher (the bar is air-conditioned) that tried to flirt with me.. I made fun of it, its friend, and its weave. After me and the guys got a good laugh, I proceed to to try and take off its bra, so that I could find out if its breasts still had black areolas. After I found out (they are still black, and its bra-strap was 36D. Win!!), it broke down, cried, and ran home.

    Now can you honestly tell me that what I did was not the right thing? Because if you don’t what your essentially saying is that, and others should equate ourselves to subhumans, like skin bleachers and ghetto people, when in fact, they exist only for our amusement. Real men have no business engaging with people who are beneath them, which by default, would include most of women.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

  17. I am woman who surely is repulsed by the offence of rape and unwarranted sexual attention. Some men simply have disgusting habits and would pounce regardless of anything done on our parts.

    That being said, women need to stop acting naively.

    There is no denying that sexuality is a language often expressed in the way we dress combined with body language and overt invitations. Please don’t tell me, that you walking around with your backside hanging out shouldn’t arouse a man. Visual stimulation is the nature of the man. Be wise and order your life around that.

    If we consider a rapist, as the author suggests as someone in need of power, we can see that indeed this is his weakness. His nature has been grotesquely twisted to beyond inappropriate. It is absolutely foolish to disregard the part we might play in attracting sexual attention (maybe not even as far as rape).

    I find it the silliest thing when girls act upset and surprised that some undesirable male approaches them in their batty-rider and bustiers.

    Surely, if I’m swimming around innocently in the ocean and get bitten by a shark it is a true tragedy. But if I choose to slice my wrist (because I have that right) and stick it into a shark tank, knowing the nature of the shark is to be attracted to blood, my intelligence as a human being capable of surviving in this world comes into question.

    April 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    • Karen A. Lloyd

      There is a problem with your analogy re the shark – men are not animals. They are quite capable of restraining themselves despite sexual urges. It seems to me that you are suggesting that men have no agency and should not be expected to control themselves if they see a woman that appeal to them sexually.

      Why do we continue to hold women accountable for the behaviour of men? Why should women be limited in what they wear so maybe some man won’t think it is his right to force himself on her? This is victim blaming and we have to move away from this narrative. It fosters impunity.

      April 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

  18. Neil

    Pfft. Not condoning rape at all. But that doesnt give these women to trolly around flaunting there assets infront of my son. And to just turn around and hate on guys whom decide to wear there pants low. If you are sleeping around; man or woman; yes you are a slut. Deal with it. If you dont like being called a slut, how about you put cloths on that are still “sexy” but dont show everything you have. Some of us like classy women whom are a challenge. Not a “woman” you can simply buy a beer and tell her shes hot.

    June 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

  19. Pingback: My Foray Into The Blogosphere | mekwireason

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