Skinny jeans will end rape…?

A defense lawyer in Australia has devised a solution for ending rape: skinny jeans. Like courts in South Korea (2008) and Italy (1999) that ruled on similar cases, an Australian jury acquitted an alleged rapist based on the defense lawyer’s claim that his client could not have removed the woman’s skinny jeans without her help and therefore he did not rape her.

Of course, in this particular case, the woman the man raped disagrees. But too bad for her, right? It’s her fault, right? What was she thinking wearing provocative skinny jeans in the first place? And good, her rapist is free! He can go attack her or other women again. Yippee!

Umm, no. Everything is wrong with this outcome and the logic behind it.

Clothes can be ripped or forced off of people or people can be coerced into taking off their own clothes. People can be engaged in consensual foreplay or related sexual acts but if one of them takes it further without the other person’s consenst, then they are entering the land of rape. There are just many variables – with or without skinny jeans – that can result in rape.

And let me ask a question. What if a man was wearing skinny jeans and he got robbed? Would he be disbelieved because of his pants? After all, he is the one who must have taken his wallet out of his jeans.

Let me answer my question. I doubt anyone would argue or believe that the kind of pants he was wearing would eliminate the possibility of a robbery. But that’s the kind of frightening logic at work in this case.

So why are there people who believe women are to blame/are lying when women are wearing skinny jeans and men are raping them?  It seems like only with crimes of sexual violence do such absurd victim blaming excuse come flying out. And that’s a big problem and a barrier to working to end sexual violence. Now women whom men have raped will probably be even less likely to report the rape if they know that their clothing will be under scrutiny and could result in the rapist walking free. And that is wrong.

Check out the work of Jeans for Justice, a nonprofit organization based in San Diego that was founded in response to a similar jeans-related argument in a 1999 Italian rape trial. Their work focuses on how rape has nothing to do with what a survivor wears.  They use fashion as a vehicle to speak out against sexual violence and raise funds to promote prevention through awareness and education, by creating partnerships with cutting edge events, designers, innovators, survivors and advocates. It’s stories like this one in Australia that will keep them busy. Find out how you can get involved.

6 Responses to Skinny jeans will end rape…?

  1. FemineUsBlog says:

    Great take-down of the ridiculous skinny jeans defense. I wanted to point out though that the trial took place in Australia, not New York. Other than that, awesome post! I had never heard of Jeans for Justice until I read this.

    I hope it’s alright that I quoted you in my own post on this subject. You can check out my post here: http://femineus.blogspot.com/2010/05/do-skinny-jeans-make-you-un-rapeable.html

  2. Mark says:

    The wallet analogy is a good one – I wonder how invested/skilled the prosecutor was who took this case. Very unfortunate outcome if the plaintiff’ claim is accurate.

  3. Anonymous says:

    wait, I’m confused. I will be raped if I am wearing skinny jeans, becuase they reveal my shape. Or I can’t be raped if I am wearing skinny jeans, bc no one else can get them off. Very thorough at victim blaming, if in consistent.

  4. friday jones says:

    I’d say that there were some bad genes involved in that jury all righty….

  5. […] be raped.  Read more about the case at the Sydney Morning Herald website.  Holly Kearl from the stop street harassment blog argues that “[e]verything is wrong with this outcome and the logic behind it”.  What […]

  6. SW says:

    Not that I’m agreeing, of course, but I think the man-wallet argument would be a better analogy if it were inside of something difficult to get out.

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