July 28th, 2010

My Short Skirt Invites You to Violate Me

When PAMELA NG asked her friends whether a woman’s dressing invited sexual violence from men, she was surprised – and disturbed – to find some of the women saying ‘Men cannot help it, it’s in their nature.‘

It was a languid train ride from Melbourne to Sydney. The deep-blue Australian sky promised a beautiful summer holiday. My friend Sarah and I had just made friends with a trio of Australian men and we were all engaged in a jolly conversation.

Then, all three of them had a sharp inhalation of breath. Sarah and I looked towards the source. A girl was walking past in the aisle. Hip-hugging mini-skirt perched atop bronzed legs that went on forever, a sporty tank top and a fresh face that stopped traffic. Looking down at us for two seconds, she breezed away with the nonchalance of someone accustomed to their beauty.

Somehow feeling snubbed, the three men suddenly released a riot of comments. “Who does she think she is, dressed like that?” And so on.

Then this gem from a seemingly-decent man called James: “Just wait, a girl like that will get what she deserves.” I asked what he meant. “I mean, dressed like that, she is just asking to get raped!” The other two men nodded in agreement, lips pursed in knowing.

Sarah and I looked at each other with shock. Through our conversation, we knew that this was a group of university graduates, who were well-traveled and held professional executive to managerial roles. How then, could they utter such obscenely ignorant comments?

A heated argument ensued and, needless to say, we did not keep in touch.

But it made me wonder – “Does a woman’s dressing invite sexual violence from men?”

I put this question to an assortment of male and female friends from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Norway, and Germany. I got surprisingly mixed responses.

Men in general held the view that women who dressed provocatively, showed a hint of cleavage, or drank too much, or went out late at night were inviting trouble.

Women had a mixed reaction, with Asian women mostly supporting a patriarchal view point that the woman should assume a certain degree, if not all, of the responsibility. A few of them said, “Men cannot help it, it’s in their nature. Women must dress or behave appropriately.”

What a disturbing revelation.

Dear reader, what is your view?

My view is encapsulated in the link below.

I love this ad. I think something like this should be screened on televisions world-wide. Until people get it.

Women do not ask to get raped. Ever.


  1. june

    i think we live in a world of instant gratification and impulses. and that applies to sex. i think the girl was looking to get hitched and noticed, but definitely not to get raped.

  2. Anj

    Love the ad. :)

  3. Amanda

    Men need to be educated about this, nobody asks to be victimised in any way. It’s like saying just because a man wears a gold watch, he’s asking to be mugged. Why should women be curtailed in their freedom just because men’s perceptions are stupid and ignorant?

  4. Anyta

    Rape is an act of criminal violence not an act of intimacy between two consenting adults.

    Keep showing the advert!

  5. Sheila Baptista

    What I find absolutely incredible is that on the one hand, we keep insisting that it’s not the worman’s fault if she is sexually assaulted or victimized, and yet on the other hand, the focus is always on the woman. It’s not the women that need to be educated. It’s the MEN who need to be educated.

  6. Lisa

    The author hints that the group turned on her after they assessed her to be inaccessible to them. She is a prize they cannot have and they feel spurned. They want her to somehow suffer in return. As a group they become quite aggressive and support each other in their views that “she’s asking for it.”

    It’s a projected fantasy gang bang.

    It sounds a bit like they were posturing, “Men like us are so virile it’s almost impossible to control. She might not be so lucky with the next guy she meets.”

    Sounds like they were more interested in proving to each other what he-men they were than to make a good impression on you.

    It must be very stressful to be a man and to constantly have to demonstrate your masculinity.

  7. ir


    “just because a man wears a gold watch, he’s asking to be mugged.”

    No, but a man wearing a gold watch, flashing it proudly in public, going out alone in unsafe places with this gold watch, especially when drunk – cannot be said to be entirely blameless should he be mugged.

    Everytime there’s such an article, women instantly start going “I should be allowed to dress however I want, regardless of all the negative attention I’d receive and image I’d be potraying and expect to be completely safe, but I can’t because of these stupid, ignorant, lustful animals they call men.”

    That’s just childish and unrealistic thinking. The fact is that there WILL be people who will see such a potrayal as an invitation, whether or not you intend that. You can’t control them. What you can do is to minimise placing yourself in a situation that easily allows you to be attacked/paints you as a target to be attacked.

    It’s not to say you’re to blame. But if you insist on going all out tempting fate in the uppity believe you should be allowed to (to quote you, “curtailed in their freedom”), it’s only you who is being foolish. There are plenty of irrational, sex-hungry predators out there. It’s in your best interest to stay out of harm’s way whenever possible.

    In a similar (but not too fitting) analogy, do you insist on walking on pedestrian crossings without looking whether cars are coming because cars are supposed to stop for you? And if you see a car coming fast, do you cross anyway? Tsk.

    • Anyta

      The “plenty of Irrational sex-hungry predators” you speak of. need psychiatric help or belong in a jail cell. They should definitely not be walking our streets, contributing to criminal activity!

  8. Claire

    Men who gave that rude statements should know that they have no rights and nothing gives them the priviledge to weakly give in to their human instinct, to violate a lady’s modesty. Human have moved pass the stage when it is just giving in to your basic instincts. This area should be well addressed by education, teachings and values pass down by parents and elders, precedent of cases that society does not accept such behaviors (like, men who violated this, will actually get thrown into jail and cannings, etc. Nothing new, I believe.)
    Women have the rights to dress the way they want to. As long as the lady is not displaying outright flirting, do not get us wrong, and do leave us alone. Manage your own needs. Thanks.

  9. hello

    honestly, it is absolutely naive to dress provocatively get drunk and still expect to be safe and okay at the end of everything. i would not say that a rapist who rapes a provocatively dressed woman is any less to blame by virtue of her dressing, but certainly, she is courting trouble with her behaviour and choice of attire.

    ofcourse, i do not believe that anyone asks to get raped. but honestly, if you know that adopting such risky behaviour is going to increase your chances of getting raped, why do it? just to show that you can? it is unrealistic and naive to presume that you can do anything you want with no consequences.

    by your line of reasoning, a man that flashes his riches and then gets mugged in a dark alley while he is drunk would be completely blameless. but is that true?

    in my opinion, if one adopts risky behaviour, then one is already partially to blame for his or her own plight. ofcourse we can say that others are expected to control their impulses, but honestly, we live in a real world, not a utopia. so why court trouble when you can just avoid it?

    I believe that this is the view that is adopted by those who felt that women who choose to dress provocatively should be apportioned some blame. i for one do not believe that this view is patriarchal in anyone. i think that it follows in a simple age-old adage, “don’t go looking for trouble.”

  10. Wake Up

    These guys are not raping the hot girl. Nobody is raping the hot girl. They are too scared stiff of her to even try get her number.

    Tall talk of rape of the hot girl is not rape. It’s sour grapes.

    The rapist doesn’t go after the girl he thinks is too good for him, who laughs at how pathetic he is.

    He rapes the one he think he can dominate, the one he can overpower. It’s about power, not attraction.

    Yes drunker makes her easier prey. But the girl on the train was not drunk.

    The rapist is looking for the girl he thinks is weak, who won’t report him, who will fear him, who he can threaten, who he thinks will feel too guilty or scared to do anything about it afterwards… Whether this girl is dressed as a nun or a call girl he doesn’t really care.

    Later the excuse may be “the skirt was too high” “the jeans were too tight” “the lipstick too red” “the look too tempting” but it’s all just to try wriggle out of the truth of the crime and sadly we buy into the story. “Maybe she did play a part… may she was too tempting.” BS.

    Yes don’t get so high that you don’t know where you are and who you are with. Yes don’t be so friggin stupid as to go into a flat or on to a boat with 6 guys you don’t know. These are all stupid moves.

    But if you want to rock that outfit when you are walking down the street or in a train, then you go. Guys always talk shit and they always will.

  11. Solveig

    My body is mine and mine alone even if I was walking naked down the street.
    What kind of person thinks they can steal something just because it is not wrapped? Would the same men steal a hot looking Ferrari just because it was parked in the street at night without a cover? Or mabye with some nice headlights peaking out of a cover?

    And for those of you that ask women to dress less provocing, what is acceptable?
    In some cultures showing your legs are provocative, in others showing your hair or your face,wearing too much makeup, no makeup, showing your shoulders,having black or blonde hair all can be seen as outside the local steriotype.

    Never blame the victim of a criminal act.

  12. hoih

    No one wants to get raped when they decide to wear or dun wear….they just wanna look good! But then again, just like no one have the right to decide for me what i should be wearing….i guess we need to put into considering the fact that like it or not what we put as a visual to others will affect what they are thinking and we cannot force a anyone to stop thinking. And if we happen to come across those who have less self-control over their mind and action, disasters will happen. I guess when we dress, we gotta keep that in mind.