British Tory Member of Parliament for Gloucester Richard Graham has come under fire from women’s rights groups for suggeting that short skirts and high heels could make it difficult for women to run away from potential predators.
Graham’s words, as quoted by the Daily Mail:
“If you are a young woman on her own trying to walk back home through a park early in the morning in a tight, short skirt and high shoes, and there’s a predator . . . if you are blind drunk wearing those clothes how able are you to get away?
“Although we have a pretty heavy police presence, life doesn’t give you full protection from a predator all the time. You have got to help look after yourself as well.
“It’s not about the impact of your clothes on a potential predator in my view – it’s about whether the clothes you’re wearing make it harder to get away from a predator.”
There’s no doubt that drunkenness can make women easier targets for predators. However, by commenting on clothing choices, Graham touched a nerve with rape crisis activists in England. A common trope used by those who dismiss rape claims is that women are partly responsible if they wear provocative clothing. The assumption, presumably, is that men can’t be expected to exercise self control when presented with a glimpse of upper thigh.
Graham wrote on his blog recently that he is sticking by his words, which he states have nothing to do with excusing rapists. From the blog:
Encouraging a sensible approach to risk management in no way intimates ANY excuse for predatory behaviour, let alone rape, and I have asked The Citizen to clarify that and to apologise for claiming that I agreed with Ms Lumley’s views.
As the father of a 20 year old daughter I rightly have strong views both on the importance of risk management and the hideousness of rape. Let no reader be any doubt about BOTH, and not misled by a misleading article and inappropriate editorial.