Blaming The Victim 101: Subway Officials Say Women’s “Scanty Clothes” Cause Harassment

Yea, ladies. Maybe if we weren’t all so whorish looking we wouldn’t be violated.
Publish date:
June 26, 2012
victim blaming, public transportation, street harassment

Women in Shanghai held a mass subway protest over the weekend, after a blog entry from the Shanghai subway ordered its female customers to wear more conservative clothing. Miniskirts, low-cut tops and sheer fabrics were targeted in the post, which encouraged women to “cherish themselves” -- presumably by wearing a turtleneck and knee-grazing burlap sack in 80-degree weather.

Feeling dizzy on a hot July day? You’re not over-heating. You’re over-cherishing.

But while pushing that whole “conservative clothing = self-respect” equation was bad enough, the Shanghai Subway Company’s blog post delivered an even more insidious message: It argued that women who wear (what is, by its estimation) inappropriate clothes are inviting sexual harassment, according to China Daily. Wearing something sexy? It means you want to be harassed, apparently. Because that’s what women do: We open our closets, look around and say, “Gosh! I wonder which shirt will get a guy to grope me on the way to work today!”

Disturbingly, this isn’t the first time that Shanghai metro officials have blamed women’s penchant for wearing seasonally appropriate clothes (the nerve!) for subway harassment and molestation. Earlier this month, China Daily reported several cases of subway molestation -- including a guy who took up-skirt shots of women without their knowledge, a guy who exposed himself on the subway and another guy who ejaculated on a woman’s leg. Basically, the Shanghai subway is a non-stop thrill-ride of awfulness, and everyone agrees someone needs to do something about that.

But rather than open up a women’s-only car, which some passengers say could help the problem, Shanghai Metro decided to blame the victims. A spokesperson for the metro “explained” to China Daily:

“Women should better protect themselves and avoid scanty clothes in summer.”

Yea, ladies. Maybe if we weren’t all so whorish looking we wouldn’t be violated.

Armed with this logic, we can put an end to lots of crimes! If rich people stopped looking so rich, they wouldn’t get robbed. And houses stopped looking so flammable, arsonists would disappear. Because, as we all know, if someone does something awful to you, it’s almost definitely your fault. (Sarcasm Meter: 1,000%!)

I’m kidding, of course -- but this sentiment is outrageously prevalent. And this tone-deaf inability to distinguish between welcome attention and harassment is staggering. The “Well, she was asking for it” argument doesn’t hold up because no one is ever asking for anything even remotely resembling any of the above things I described.

But just in case there’s any confusion, I’ll happily clear the air for the fellas out there:

Guys? Hi. Here’s the thing -- no matter how short a skirt one of us ladies might be wearing, please do not take a photo of our crotch when we’re not looking. We don’t like that. Also -- quick side note -- please don’t expose your genitals in a public place. I know, that deep V-neck we had on made it look like we wanted you to do that! Super confusing. Our bad. But yea, don’t do that. Unless someone explicitly says, “Hey! Show me your genitals!” (maybe not those exact words, but you get what I’m saying), do not do that.

Glad we cleared that up.

Image of skirt via Shutterstock.Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.