The Sexist

But Was She Wearing High Heels?

In response to the story about the Howard University student who was denied a rape kit after being allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted at a house party, some troll decided that this particular rape doesn't matter because the victim was wearing stiletto heels on the night of her assault:

You know god-damned well a woman today on a weekend night looks and acts like a prostitute. (tramp stamp/tongue ring/stiletto heels . . . This article is about a woman who wasn't even sure if she was raped. She thinks she was, but she doesn't know. The Doctor, who has important things to do, made the decision to turn this woman away. That is his prerogative. I don't blame him. Imagine if you will, a young woman coming into your clinic, drunk to the gills, stiletto heels, a pound of make-up, dressed like a prostitute, and expecting a rape kit. Too bad! . . . If she is shitfaced and wearing a slut uniform (tramp stamp/tongue ring/nipple piercing/one pound of make-up/stiletto heels) then whatever happens to her is her responsibility.

Well, there are a lot of problems with this statement, but let's focus on one: The victim in this case was almost certainly not wearing stiletto heels that night. Depressingly, that's a matter of public record now, because defense attorneys in the case found it relevant to ask what was on this woman's feet. From a deposition taken of Hannah's friend, Amanda, who was present at the party (and its aftermath):

Attorney: Do you remember what [Hannah] was wearing at the party?

Amanda: No. No, not at all.

Attorney: Do you remember if she was wearing high heels?

Amanda: It was probably one of the times—I would say she was probably wearing boots.

This is the general script for rape apologists:

1. Isolate a detail about the rape victim—it could be her appearance, her attire, her level of intoxication, her upbringing, her sexual history, or her presence at a particular party—really, anything will do.

2. Decide that that particular detail designates her as a less-than-perfect rape victim.

3. Assert that this rape doesn't matter because the victim was asking for it / wasn't taking charge of her own safety / is lying / doesn't deserve any of the limited amount of the sympathy we extend to "real" victims of rape.

This troll has reversed that script. First, decide that you don't care about the rape. Then, assume that the rape victim must conform to one of the accepted cultural markers of an "imperfect" victim (short skirt / stiletto heels / sexually promiscuous / had been drinking / has a piercing / in a bad neighborhood / has a tattoo—on the lower back! / wears make-up / and good luck if you're transgender).

Thomas MacAulay Millar, commenting on the story, wrote:

What is clear from this thread and others is that there is a very real pro-rape lobby. They talk the language of disbelieving, but when push comes to shove . . . these trolls really do understand that women get raped when they are most vulnerable—but they are in favor of it. Whether they are actually men who hate women, or are women who hate other women, we can't know. There are a number of possible motives for these sentiments. But they're not really in denial—that's a facade they drop when pressed. In fact, they're just pro-rape. They think it ought to be open-season for predators on certain women in certain circumstances.

What this troll demonstrates is that those cultural markers—the circumstances that make rape A-OK for rape apologists—are arbitrary, and they can always be shifted to excuse more rapes.  Even if the rape victim is a 15-year-old girl raped again and again on her own school campus during the homecoming dance, there is always something apologists can use against her. And even if all women everywhere cover up, stay sober, don't go to parties, always wear pants, remain un-pierced and un-inked, don't wear makeup, always wear flats, never leave the house without a man, and stop living our lives freely, the rape apologists will find a new set of criteria that will make us responsible for our rapes anyway. The shifting of blame will continue as long as rape continues. It's not that rape apologists despise women who were stiletto heels. It's that they despise women. That's what needs to change. Not our shoes.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Harry Finkbein

    Where I live the ambulance service and paramedics are a public service. Yes, they are not the ones with the rape kits, they are the first responders. The point is after awhile a pattern develops, a call is made to go fetch a drunk, hysterical woman. She is claiming she has been raped. When it turns out she hasn't, public service professionals grow weary. This is all I am saying. As far as dress and attire goes, it's very simple. Doing dangerous things is, well, dangerous. People do it all the time. I advise young people that they shouldn't smoke. Girls, for whatever reason, tossed the notion aside that women used to adhere to: don't dress like a skank and go to house parties and tease boys. It used to be common knowledge.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    Harry, your claim that none of those hysterical women were raped is meaningless because you have provided zero credible evidence to back up your claim. But you have provided clear evidence of why you deny that any of those women could have been raped.

    Your advice not to tease boys means that you are acknowledging lack of consent because if those girls actually consented they would not be labeled by you as a tease. You acknowledge the dangerous situation for girls and women, but if none of the girls and women in the dangerous situations were raped then those situations are not dangerous as you claim.

    You can't credibly blame the victim for going into a dangerous situation and then deny the danger everytime someone claims that what you predicted actually happened.

  • Harry Finkbein

    @abyss2hope,

    evidence? not sure what you mean? I told you I work at a shelter which houses the poor, inidigent, disabled, LBGT and cis-gendered communities. If you deny what I have reported to you than you are in denial of reality. The paramedics and ambulance drivers are paid for by taxpayers, and everytime an allegation of rape which makes the papers and it turns out to be false, heads roll. Taxpayers want to know why there money is going to pay for public services, can you blame them? The shelter industry is controlled by feminists, and they rely on public funds. In other words, follow the money -make the connections: The shelter industry NEEDS 'rape culture' to exist. Without 'rape culture', the shelter industry dies. Think about it.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    Harry, yes, evidence is required for a credible claim. Something I'm sure you understand when women report rape. Working at a shelter is not evidence, neither is the fact that the paramedics and ambulance drivers are being paid by taxpayers. All you've provided are baseless allegations and your clear bias.

    Your reference to the shelter industry is a provably false allegation. If you are ignorant of proven acts of domestic violence which include attempted murder and completed murder then that's a deliberate choice you've made.

    No case magically turns out to be proven false without specific evidence proving this counter allegation. How many of these women you claim have been proven to be liars have been convicted of making a false police report? What city are you making claims about? If you are willing to make an allegation then be willing to have that allegation researched.

  • Harry Finkbein

    abyss2hope,

    I already told you that after rape kits were deployed and evidence of no sexual activity occurring, the rape allegations were deemed false. Now, I would be foolish to post here where I live and where I work, because my employer(s) are feminists. They think I am an ally, and I was, but after seeing them milk this system for a full-time job with union benefits, I can tell you that the shelter system is indeed an industry.

    What I have provided you is anecdotal, and I will not be revealing my place of employment here. This is fine if you reject my claims, but rest assured, with the new Male Studies curriculum, we will be challenging feminist dogma for the years to come. It will be YOU this time that is held to account, and men will be reclaiming victim status. How do ya like them apples?

    If you want to continue this charade of non-profit organizations with public funds and dominated by feminists with union benefits, then eventually, somebody will start asking questions, esp when false allegations of rape subsidize the employment of women at DV shelters.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    Harry, what you are alleging is not something you've actually experienced so not accepting your word is not rejecting a reality you experienced firsthand. Your claims, if they are merely statements of fact, can be verified by convictions against those you accuse.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    Harry, when you say these cases were deemed false are you referring to cases being labeled as unfounded? This is verifiably not proof that the reports were false and it isn't even proof that there was no credible evidence available. If you don't understand this critical difference you are incompetent to be making any claims.

    Police forces have been investigated for their mishandling of rape reports with one of the latest being in Cleveland after failures were exposed after the discovery of missing women's bodies in the home of a sex offender.

    What evidence do you have that the rape kits in any of those cases where actually processed? There is clear documentation about multiple thousands of unprocessed rape kits and the choice by investigators to simply shelve many rape kits. With the pervasive attitudes you are reporting it cannot be taken as a given that any of the rape kits from the women you label as liars were ever on a list to be processed.

    Your claim about the rape kits also ignores the fact that lack of DNA doesn't prove sexual contact or activity didn't occur.

    You complain about feminists milking the system but by keeping your job where you are clearly not an ally you are at least as guilty as you claim they are. You acknowledge your exploitation while their exploitation is an alleged one.

  • Harry Fibkbein

    No, I mean false, as in a false allegation of rape. The woman either recanted her story and apologized or, upon review, the sex was consensual. For instance, a woman may be intoxicated and go to a hotel room with a man, take her clothes off, and lay in bed with a man. The next day, sobering up, she may depart with a sickening feeling and a few days later, file a rape report.

    As for police not following due process with regards to a rape kit, it is my understanding that once a rape kit is deployed, it is official, as in official paperwork. No way around it. You have to enter it in the docket.

    I am not talking about women who have been actually raped. I am talking about the ones who cry foul when they decide they made the wrong choice to have sex with a man, which is about 10% of all rape claims. This is astronomical, to me. That means 10% languishing in a jail somewhere. Google William MacCaffrey and read his story.

    I am recording the goings on at my shelter and now I will be building a case to take this parasitical organization down, and hand it over to the Salvation Army.

  • Ruth W.

    I would like to point out that a drink can easily be spiked with *alcohol* in order to incapacitate somebody. Hard liquor surreptitiously added to a drink will not show up on a tox screen, yet the motive and result are exactly the same as adding rohypnol. An inexperienced drinker, an already-intoxicated drinker, or a drinker trying a new drink would not be likely to notice that it is a lot more alcoholic than they reasonably expected.

  • Harry Finkbein

    It is a woman's responsibility to have control of her drink. She has to open the bottle, pour it and hold it. and have it in her view at all times. To disagree with this statement is hypocrisy.

  • kenyatta yamel

    I was disgusted by the attitudes of the police and the hospitals and the way they treated this young woman. Instead of believing her they immediately decided she was not telling the truth. The policy of not allowing a rape kit until a police officer requested it was wrong. Too late, that policy was changed. The other sad part about the story was that the group of young men knew what had happened and did not come forward. What if that had been your relative or friend? The man who did this must feel disgusted by his lack of integrity, drugging and then using a defenseless woman. The only way to clear your conscience is to own up to your responsibility, accept the punishment and promise never to treat another human being like this again.

  • K

    let's not waste time on this eo clown, who is arguing in bad faith and saying some rape is okay.

    let's get to the point: eo, f*ck you*.

    harry, you too.

    *(hey, i don't know how lax we are on language around here. ;p )

  • Wolf-Alice

    @Rape apologist, "which is about 10% of all rape claims." You have no evidence for this. Also "10% of all rape claims are false, so 10% of rapists in prison are not rapists!" does not logically follow anything you've said previously, nor does it follow reality considering the incredibly low rate of conviction for rape. We won't even convict a man for rape if the victim was wearing high heels!

    Regardless I advise you to quit your job since you are clearly too much of a misogynist to adequately work in the shelter system.

    Not to mention that you think that if someone spikes my drink then it's my fault. Ridiculous. You'll let men get away with anything, won't you?

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    K: "Fuck" away!

  • squirrely girl

    Ruth,

    Very interesting point! I for one think Long Island Ice Tea's taste like lemonade. I wouldn't necessarily equate the taste with the amount of alcohol I'm actually consuming.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    Harry, by your description of proven false you are describing cases which have not been proven false but which have been declared false by the police. Your "for instance" is a counter allegation, not a proven fact.

    I believe you understand this difference when the person declared guilty by the police is a man accused of rape. Proven false would be a conviction. If the police truly have proof then they have enough evidence to gain a conviction.

    What are described as recantations are often not confessions of guilt at all and when they are confessions they are often given under coercive conditions or even outright threats which have been shown to facilitate false confessions.

    Your description of rape kits being deployed proves that you don't know what you are talking about. A rape kit being handed to the police tells them and prosecution nothing since that rape kit has not been processed by a forensic lab at that point and has not even been placed in the queue for processing.

    When you falsely put the legal responsibility for preventing drink spiking on potential victims, you undermine your credibility. If your claim were true then it must be illegal for bars or for anyone to serve women drinks which are not handed to them in sealed containers.

    The reality is that in many jurisdictions spiking someone's drink is a felony. Somehow I doubt you take this same "the victim's the only one responsible" attitude when the person whose drink is spiked is a man by someone intent on robbery.

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  • Sandra S.

    Ridiculously off-topic, I know. But what city in the WORLD has paramedics running rape kits on demand, hospitals hearing back the results of the judicial findings, and an all-powerful union for shelter workers? Because DAMN, I want to MOVE there. It sounds like a heaven of well-funded, well-coordinated social services. That's the place for me!

  • Shea

    As for the "they were both drunk" defense, I think this is an illuminating analogy: Imagine that you were out drinking with your friends. Imagine that in the course of the evening one of them stole your wallet and maxed out your credit card.

    What would you say if the credit card company and society at large placed the blame on YOU for having your wallet stolen? After all, if you hadn't been drunk, you probably would have noticed when your friend took it. You should have been more careful than to bring your high-limit credit card with you and put your wallet in an unzippered pocket... Etc.

    But this wouldn't happen. Everyone would still hold your friend accountable for the theft if he was drunk (even if he was drunk and had poor impulse control on top of it-- even if he REALLY liked money) and everyone would still consider you the victim even if you were drunk, too. For the record, rape is a lot worse than stealing a wallet, but the concept is not dissimilar: The perpetrator is taking something of value that does not belong to him.

    Now, you might also be more likely to lend you friend money WILLINGLY if you were drunk, and he might be more willing to ask. That's a different story. But if you passed out and he took your wallet while you were unconscious, no one would construe that as "consent."

    Furthermore, no one is telling people who get robbed that if they spend money "irresponsibly," they deserve to have it stolen--that the solution to theft is to put all of their money in safety deposit boxes and withdraw only small amounts occasionally, to spend in ONE place, within strict parameters. It's problematic to analogize money and women's sexuality, but it's useful in this case, because we have such a clear concept of OWNERSHIP where money is concerned.

    And my point is that women have every bit as much ownership over their sexuality as people have over their finances. Women's sexuality is theirs to spend as they wish--and if that means having a one-night stand every night, that's their choice. I don't necessarily agree with that choice, but it does NOT make them fair game for rape. There are people who buy a lottery ticket every day, which is a poor use of money, but no one is advocating that they be robbed.

  • Makenzie

    THIS article IS DISGUSTING (The beginning, that is). It is NEVER a woman's fault no matter how intoxicated she was, what she was wearing, what kind of tattoos she has, how much makeup she wears, etc. It's true that women need to be careful and shouldn't be alone at night or whatever but rape happens in the middle of the day to women who are wearing sweats. The point is: it doesn't matter. Women NEVER ask for rape- to say that is unintelligent and misogynistic. As a doctor, to turn away a patient because of what she is wearing is discrimination.

  • Trish

    I hate that it is said that women have to protect themselves. I understand that is the way it is right now, but as Shea said, you wouldn't blame somebody for getting robbed why do you blame somebody for getting raped? It is disgusting. Rape is done (most of it) by men. So men are the ones who have to stop raping and who need to be blamed for it. Blaming a woman for her rape is stupid. Saying that she was dressed provocatively so she should be blamed is just stupid. Rape has been happening for a very long time, regardless of what a woman wore. Rape isn't about sex, it's about having control over somebody. So what she is wearing doesn't matter, it is about the fact that somebody wanted to control something about somebody else. I really don't like people who condone rape like Eo and Harry.

  • Alice

    I was wearing a halter top, shorts, sneakers. I was a virgin. I was fifteen. He was my boyfriend, my first love, and best friends with my brother. We had been going together for almost a year, my family knew his family quite well. After breaking up with me(I now realize for not "putting out"), I ran into him at a local gameroom in our small town. He offered to give me a ride home to discuss a reconciliation. I agreed, had no reason to be suspicious. I was even excited for a potential reconciliation. He drove me down a long trail that lead deep into the woods. Still, I wasn't afraid. He parked at the end of this trail, and turned off all lights. He began telling me how much he loved me, and deeply regretted breaking things off. I couldn't believe my luck, for I loved him with all of my fifteen year old heart. He kissed me, I kissed back. He touched my breasts, I let him. He started to undo my pants, I pulled his hand away. He tried again, again I stopped him. He abruptly stated he had to "take a leak", and stepped out of the truck, leaving the door open behind him. The interior lights were now on because of the opened door. He returned, I was sitting sideways in the driver's seat, with my legs hanging out of the open doorway. He stood between my legs, and kissed me again, a hard deliberate kiss. He began pushing his weight against me as he kissed, I felt his erection between my thighs. I pulled away. He forced himself back against me, again I pushed back, and chuckled, trying to make light of his advances. I stated, "you'd better take me home". This is where the rape began. He pushed be back flat against the seat, very forceful now. I tried to sit up, but he held my hands above my head. He did this with one of his hands, leaving the other free. With that free hand, he unzipped my shorts, and yanked them down, pulling my underwear down with them. I told him to get off of me and let me go. I told him he was scaring me, he said nothing. I managed to pry my hands loose, and I began to struggle with him, he struck me across the face, I was stunned. I was afraid, completely under his control. He easily pinned my hands again, and forced his erection inside of me. I lay there wondering how far he would take this, wondering if he had driven me out here to do more than rape me, wondering if he were going to let me go after this. I had never been so afraid in my life. The rape itself didn't last long, but the damage was done. He backed away from me when it was over, and pulled up his pants. He then began acting as though this act were consensual, saying how great it was, and why did we wait so long to do this. I mechanically answered "I don't know", still afraid of what was next. I slid my pants up. I sat in the passenger seat, shaking involuntarily as I tried to act as though I hadn't just been raped. He started the ignition, turned on the radio, and began driving back towards town. I asked him to take me to a friends house because it was closer than my own home. He pulled in her driveway, got out opened my door, and stated "maybe we can do this again sometime". He drove off into the night. I walked to her door and I knocked, she opened the door. I immediately stated I had been raped, she pulled me in, and listened to my ordeal. I come from a small town where everyone knows each other, and the people I told other than a few close friends were unwilling to act. My parents simply moved away, and he was never charged. Four years later, he called me(how he got my number I'll never know). He was drunk and crying as he proceeded to tell me how that night has haunted him all this time, and he knows I can never forgive him, but he was sorry. I hung up the phone.

    I can't began to express how this tragedy has affected my life. Suffice it to say, I would never be "normal" again. I suppose to some I deserved this because I went willingly, because I allowed a certain amount of physicality, because I allowed myself to be driven to an isolated place. However, I know differently. This guy was a family friend, he had never struck me or forced himself on me before. I had no reason to think that this night would be any different. I was completely sober. Although had I been drunk, scantily dressed, and/or willing to have a serious make out session, it doesn't matter. Forced sex is just that---forced. Rape is rape, either you believe it's wrong, or you don't---there is no in between. My story is disturbing, but what's more disturbing is the fact that many of the women I've met in my life have their own stories, all equally disturbing. I have met more women that have been raped, or molested as children, than not. These are the facts, so whether you want to believe them or not is up to you. Women have never had the support of the male community. That would mean taking responsibility for leaving females completely vulnerable to their perpetual advances. That would mean going back to the beginning of time, and admitting we have no worth outside of domestic duties and sex. That would mean a confession of keeping women oppressed through fear, through sheer physical/mental brutality. That would mean an admittance of guilt. That would mean an apology, and a willingness to change, a step down from the throne. That, my friends, would be a fucking miracle---but, I'm not bitter...

  • c-fresh

    why dress provacativly unless you want sex. i dont agree with rape but some girls need to have more respect for themselves and not act and dress like slut for attention. it makes me hate women because most of them are only concerned with things that dont matter. if you go out dressed like a whore looking for dick dont complain when you get one.

  • c-fresh

    alice,
    you just said men should admit women have no worth outside of domesti duties and sex. you deserved what you got.

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