This is my 200th blog post. I'd say that it's atypical of the types of thing that I'd normally post, but that doesn't make me less proud of posting it. I had a couple of choices with what to pick for my 200th post: this, the mathematics of party representation, a retrospective. I'm glad I get to do this one. Yes, I know that video has nothing to do with this, but the videos I post almost never do.
Yesterday Crendor (@wowcrendor) made a tweet to the effect of "Tip to girls: if you dress like a whore, you'll get treated like one. #commonsense" The original tweet has been deleted, but that's the message. This sparked a big twitter controversy wherein many people didn't get what was wrong with it.
The sexism that runs through our culture these days isn't the same sexism that there used to be. We aren't dealing with Mad Men'esque type sexism here, it's far more subtle. Thoughts and tweets like his and the subsequent ones he used to defend himself place the responsibility for the actions of others on the victim. It's saying that guy's can't be held accountable for their actions so if you're treated poorly it's because you baited them.
And you know what, people make mistakes like this all the time because they don't even realize that what they're saying is wrong. You could ask someone "Do you feel men and women are equals and should be treated as such?" and damn near everybody will say yes and damn near all of them aren't lying. The problem is that they don't realize that the things that they say don't actually follow through with that belief.
Here's why it's all wrong.
"Tip to girls: ... #commonsense"
A male commentor on MSNBC yesterday put it best when he said something to the effect of "I love it when men try to tell women what's best for them." Nobody is going to read Crendor's tweet and say "Ohhh, that's what I've been doing wrong." Not only is the message offensive, but the way that it's phrased it condescending. It implies that women are stupid and don't understand that the way you dress will have an effect on how you're treated (although it shouldn't).
"...if you dress like a whore,..."
We're off to a bad start already. Saying that somebody is 'dressed like a whore' is wrong. The same thing could be said if you say that they are dressed revealingly, and it wouldn't have the added implications. To say that someone is 'dressed like a whore' is not a statement of fact, it's meant to insult and put down the person being discussed. This isn't a thing that should be said.
"...you'll get treated like one..."
And the kicker. I suppose that I covered the problems with this statement above in my introduction, so I'll just quote a tweet of mine from last night. All people, regardless of their manner of dress (or lack thereof) deserve to be treated respectfully until their actions prove otherwise.
Tangential to this: is there an implication that whores should be treated poorly? I mean real whores a.k.a. sexworkers. Whores don't deserve to be treated poorly either. Sex work should be a respectable (and legal) profession. Whores are treated poorly not because they are vile creatures of the night, but because their clients can be (but are not always) scumbags. This is another example of victim blaming.
Perhaps the reason that whores are treated poorly is becaue they have bad clients and don't feel like they can turn to the law enforcement for protection because sex work is illegal most everywhere. If you've ever watched the show on HBO that takes place at a 'bunny ranch' where prostitution is legal, you'd never think that someone mistreats one of the women there and gets away with it. The reason for that is because it's legal and so a legitimate and safe business can be set up. Perhaps that's something lawmakers should consider.
The path to enlightenment
Like I said above, many people make these mistakes without realizing they are mistakes. There is a natural progression in how this get's fixed for a particular person.
The person must first be made aware of the problem. Either they will make the mistake and be corrected or will see someone else make the mistake. This is the most crucial part, because there are two paths from here. The first is that they will see the error of their ways and be on the road to becoming a better person. The second is that they won't. If this happens they will probably make these mistakes less, but that's only because they won't say these things in public. They will likely become bitter, defensive and further entrenched in their viewpoint. Unfortunately, a big role in this is played by what kind of response the mistake is met with. The more loud and critical the response, the more defensive the mistake maker is likely to become.
If someone goes on the first path, the next step is editing. They may still have those thoughts, but they will realize that they are wrong and choose not to voice them. Repeatedly editing onesself will eventually train them to not have those thoughts in the first place.
Truth be told, I've probably said something that would draw a similar ire if I were as popular as Crendor is on the internet. I've made over 6000 tweets, and I can't say for certain that I've been as good as I'd like to be. But recently I've started following some people on twitter who are very vocal about feminism and I've learned a thing or two myself. It's 2012, fuck the flying cars, people shouldn't be ignorant of these issues anymore.
No doubt there are things that can and should be said that I didn't say above. But I'm sure someone else will. In fact, AppleCiderMage beat me to the punch on posting something related to this controversy here. If you want to read more, I'd suggest you go there.