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FIRST-PERSON: Provocative dress & naiveté

Editor’s note: This column contains language that may offend some readers.

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Picture this: women taking to the streets to march en masse. Many are scantily clad in an apparent effort to illustrate a point. The purpose of the procession: to proclaim they are proud to be known as “sluts.”

It’s not a scene from some vapid pornography film. It is a recent phenomenon cropping up all over North America known as a “slut walk.”

The fad began in Toronto and was in response to a police officer’s comments made during a personal safety class to female students at York University. “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized,” the officer advised.

Though the officer later apologized, some women in the Toronto area believed the officer had suggested a victim of sexual assault could be responsible for an attack based on dress or perceived lifestyle, the Associated Press reported. As a result, hundreds of women in Toronto took to the streets to express their “pride”

Participants believe that by simply asserting a woman should not be sexually assaulted because she is dressed provocatively will somehow raise awareness and the problem will go away. Naïve is the best way to describe these marchers.

In an ideal world, no woman would ever be sexually assaulted, period, regardless of her attire. In fact, in a perfect world no person would ever be the victim of any crime. But, sadly, we do not live in an ideal world.

A reality too many people refuse to accept, and that includes the protesters, is that we live in a fallen world rife with evil and crime is an ever present reality. A wise person will do everything he or she can in order to reduce the probability that he or she will be a victim.

An example of being wise in respect to crime can be found in companies that deliver pizza. If an area of a city is known to have a high crime rate, many pizza companies will not deliver to that area, especially at night. Why? Because the company understands that to do so will place its delivery drivers at a greater risk of being robbed and perhaps harmed.

Certainly no pizza delivery person should be blamed for being robbed, regardless of when or where he or she is delivering pizza. However, common sense and experience have taught companies that to deliver pizza in a high crime area carries a greater probability of being robbed.

Some time ago my oldest daughter expressed a desire to travel to Mexico with some classmates for a senior trip. In an ideal world my wife and I should be able to allow our daughter to travel south of the border without any fear for her safety. However, the reality is that many parts of Mexico are not safe. Wisdom dictated that we say no and thus lessen the probability she would be a victim of a crime.

In an ideal world I would not lock my car while it is parked in my own driveway. In a perfect world I would not lock my house while I am at home. In an ideal world I would not have my kids text me upon arriving at a destination. I would not have them text me before they start for home. However, we simply do not live in an ideal world; we live in one rife with evil.

The participants in Toronto and elsewhere believe that if a woman wants to flaunt her sexuality and dress provocatively she should be able to do so without drawing any unwanted attention. In a world that is fallen, that idea is overly idealistic.

Couple the fact we live in a fallen world with aspects of a culture — the entertainment world, for instance — that openly objectifies women and the argument seems even more naïve. Movies and television programs portray women as nothing more than sex objects. Popular rappers rhyme about using and abusing women sexually. Pornography has become pervasive and portrays women as sexually insatiable sirens. Too many men have had their view of women skewed by feeding on the filth.

In a fallen world evil is not some theory, it is real. There are twisted men who prey on women because they view them as weak and vulnerable. These perverts do not need provocative dress to fuel their twisted desire. So, like or not, these warped individuals see a woman dressed provocatively as an open invitation for sexual advance.

In an ideal world a woman would never be sexually assaulted. However, we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world that is fallen, corrupt and increasing infected with a perverted understanding of sexuality.

“The new trend today is depravity,” proclaimed American rapper Dante Terrell Smith, better known by the stage name Mos Def. Smith is only partly correct. The trend in the world today is depravity, but it is anything but new. And the protesters seeking to raise awareness are not going to change this reality.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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  • Kelly Boggs