ONTD Political

Safety tip: "Don’t dress like a slut"

2:35 pm - 02/17/2011

Students and staff at Osgoode Hall Law School are demanding an apology and explanation from the Toronto Police Service after one of their officers suggested women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like a “slut.”


On Jan. 24, a campus safety information session was held at Osgoode Hall, where members from York security and two male officers from Toronto police 31 Division handed out safety tips to community

Ronda Bessner, who attended the session, remembered being surprised by what the officer suggested to women.

“One of the safety tips was for women not to dress like ‘sluts.’ He said something like, ‘I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this,’ and then he uttered the words,” said Bessner, Osgoode assistant dean of the Juris Doctor Program. “I was shocked and appalled. I made contact with the police [...] and we’ve asked for a written apology and an explanation.”

YFS vice-president Darkshika Selvasivam, who did not attend the session, also expressed shock upon hearing the comments.

“I’m appalled by the comment that the police officer has made saying that women should avoid dressing like sluts, and I think it goes to show the inherent misogyny and lack of education,” said Selvasivam, York Federation of Students (YFS) executive.

“I think the officer should be very seriously reprimanded for the comment.”

After the session, Bessner spoke with students and student organizations and noted they, too, expressed concerns about the comment. Bessner proceeded to call 31 Division to demand an apology and explanation.

“Initially it was a call, and the officer said he would get back to me right away. A couple of days had lapsed, so I sent a letter,” she said.

Toronto police spokesperson Constable Wendy Drummond confirmed the incident has been brought to the attention of senior officials and is currently under investigation.

“[This is] definitely something that we take very seriously. This matter [...] has been brought to the attention of our professional standards unit and is something we will be looking into,” she said.

However, she could not confirm whether Toronto police intend to issue an official apology.

“We are of the position that if these comments were made, it is definitely something that we will [act on],” she added.

Bessner said she has yet to receive an official apology from the officer. She has also spoken to York security and noted that they were also upset by the comments.

“We have a good relationship with the Toronto Police Service and work collaboratively with them,” said Janice Walls, York spokesperson. “However, we were very surprised and shocked by the comment that was made and we certainly don’t agree with it.”

Bessner argued that such comments make it difficult for victims dealing with sexual assault because they make them feel uncomfortable going to the police for help.

“I think the problem with the constable’s conduct was that he was blaming the victim,” she said. “He’s also not making victims feel safe to go to the police. It’s quite astounding that in 2011 that you hear comments like that from a professional.”

Bessner stressed the importance of officers having proper knowledge about sexual assault cases.

“I think it’s really important that the police [...] receive appropriate training on sexual assault, so that statements like this are never made and that they understand the dynamics of sexual assault.”


They had already told him not to repeat that b.s. but he wouldn't stop. He should be at least reassigned, IMO. As usual,  don't read the comments at the source.
myrddin 17th-Feb-2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
I'm probably going to get it for this.

He should have never used the word slut, that's totally inappropriate.
And it is never a woman's fault when assault occurs, it should happen in the first place. But realistically, does it? Yes.

If I wear a huge, expensive diamond bracelet in a horrible part of town and I get robbed, I probably didn't exercise the best judgment. Did I deserve to get robbed? No. Am I the victim. 100%. Should the perp get charged. Yes.

Could it have been avoided if I'd been realistic about the situation. Probably. I think there's a fine line on some of this because officers don't want to see this happen to women, and just because it shouldn't doesn't mean it won't.

My house shouldn't get robbed, but I'm not leaving the door unlocked where I live. Common sense.

But I know the argument's been made before and shot down because why should anyone take common sense precautions to protect themselves when they shouldn't have to. I know I always leave $300 dollars in cash sitting in public places and expect it to still be sitting there when I get back.
nope_de_plume 17th-Feb-2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
Except how you dress has no effect on weather or not someone will attack you. Women in full body coverage get attacked. The only reason some men try to rape is because the person they're going after has a vagina, and frankly, there's no ability to leave that at home.
nope_de_plume 17th-Feb-2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Not to mention what exactly is the 'common sense' solution? Most attacks are done by people they trust, is your solution to trust no one? Lock ourselves in our homes forever and never leave because god knows, we can't trust any men to not commit rape?
nope_de_plume 17th-Feb-2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
Ps: Fuck you for going 'Well it's never a womans fault buuuuuuuuuuut'
hilsongirl 17th-Feb-2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
well, that's totally like have my vagina with me in public places and expect it not to be raped.
arisma 17th-Feb-2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
I agree with your examples, not with your point. You should lock your house, you should take care of valuables. Unfortunately for dress to have an impact on rape it would have to be a crime in which sexual attraction plays a role, and it doesn't. Rape is not sex, it's power, and unless you're suggesting women don full plate you're missing that entirely.
eversofar 17th-Feb-2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
My body is not comparable to property, fuck you very much.
shoujokakumei 17th-Feb-2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
I'm probably going to get it for this.

Yep. Because your logic is faulty. I can leave my cash or jewelry at home. My sexual organs are still with me, regardless of what I wear.

Edited at 2011-02-17 06:19 pm (UTC)
popehippo 17th-Feb-2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
I'm probably going to get it for this.

If you had the time to stop and consider that possibility, maybe you need to take further time to think about what the hell you're saying.

Edited at 2011-02-17 06:19 pm (UTC)
salienne 17th-Feb-2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, except attire has absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault. Nothing at all. Seriously. Shocking, I know, but rape isn't about how ~hot you are.

So this comment? Totally inappropriate, not to mention hilariously misogynistic and just plain wrong. Why not try doing some actual reading before typing and regurgitating the same false information that blames women for other people choosing to rape them?
bethan_b_bad 17th-Feb-2011 06:22 pm (UTC)

I'm sorry, I'm not even going to dignify your piss-poor, ill-thought-out argument with a proper debate, because that's all it is: a load of old bollocks.

Seriously, do you even go here?
sunhawk 17th-Feb-2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
There is so much wrong with this victim-blaming I don't know where to start. So instead here's a more realistic set of rules for preventing rape:

mercaque 17th-Feb-2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Great idea. Let's focus on the behavior of ~sluttily~ dressed women (because there are no male rape victims, no "ugly" rape victims, no average-looking rape victims, no elderly rape victims, no CHILD rape victims, no heavily-covered-up rape victims, no jeans-and-T-shirt wearing rape victims, no military-uniformed rape victims, etc) instead of the behavior of the people who, you know, MAKE A DECISION TO RAPE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.
mooyoo 17th-Feb-2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
Your comparison really doesn't hold up because someone stealing your expensive diamond bracelet is about getting that expensive diamond bracelet. Rape is not about simply getting sex, it's about power and domination. It's not like a man will see a woman in a miniskirt and immediately jump to "oh, gotta go have sex with her and if she doesn't want it, I'll rape her!" but see a woman in sweatpants and just think "nah."

Equating wearing "slutty" clothes with leaving money lying around for anyone to take suggests that advertising your body is an invitation for sexual advances in the same sort of way, and it's really not. I'm really tired of this assumption that only young, pretty, scantily clad women are sexually assaulted, and they are assaulted because they are young, pretty, and scantily clad. It's just not true. Old women are raped. Little girls are raped. Fat women are raped. Skinny women are raped. Women dressed in miniskirts and jeans and sweatpants and burqas are raped. There is no formula that says miniskirt+tubetop+young woman=rape, and to suggest as much takes the blame and responsibility away from the rapist and puts it on the victim, even if you preface your argument with "it's never a woman's fault."
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
mercaque 17th-Feb-2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
You may also be interested in Rape Culture 101, which was linked in one of the recent Lara Logan threads.

Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women's daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you're alone, if you're with a stranger, if you're in a group, if you're in a group of strangers, if it's dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you're carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you're wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who's around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who's at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn't follow all the rules it's your fault.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
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