Richard D North or, 'RDN' is a right-wing writer, broadcaster and commentator. He is media fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs, the free market think tank, and fellow of the Social Affairs Unit, the home of conservative cultural thought.
This week, Mr. North appeared on the BBC's Sunday Morning Live; 'a series of moral, ethical and religious debates that invites the audience to get involved'. One of the topics up for debate this week was Should Women Cover Up? As a precursor to his appearance on the programme, Mr. North posted this on his website:
I would almost prefer to see more burqa and less thong on our high street. And there is something in that poor Toronto policeman’s view that women ought to consider dressing modestly. They have of course a right to dress like sluts, and there’s no evidence that I know of that tarty dressing gets people raped. Still, whether in dress, drink or general deportment, women would be sensible to be, er, sensible.
After his appearance on the programme, the following exchange ensued:
My sister and I would like to know why you would prefer to see women moving towards a more covered-up state of dress, particularly when you admit yourself that you know of no evidence that suggests that there is a correlation between instances of rape and what a victim chooses to wear. You also said on Sunday Morning Live that do not enjoy looking at “acres of blubber”. We hate to jump to conclusions but we feel that this comment was directed solely at women rather than women AND men. Could you explain yourself with regard to this?
Also, you contradict yourself when you say that women should be free to dress as they please but that they should also cover up more as a “precaution”. So, which is it? And, if it is the latter, why is the onus on women’s behaviour when it is men who do the attacking? Are you saying that you think a woman’s dress provokes rape? You can’t be saying that though, because you’ve aleady admitted in your post that you know of no evidence linking dress with the likelihood of being attacked – and you’re correct here, Richard, because there is none. Do you understand that a sexual attack has nothing to do with the victim and everything to do with the perpetrator?
Finally, we would like to let you in on a little secret: rape has absolutely nothing to do with sex. I know! It’s weird isn’t it!!? Please contact us if you would like us to explain this further.
J and C
Dear J and C
Thanks for that. Yes, I do think too many people of both sexes display too much flesh in the wrong places and at the wrong times – as a matter of my taste. And I do think the current trend for provocative clothing by women during the day (tight, short, skirts; cleavage etc) is weirdly unprofessional and unfeminist. And you’re right, I did say that I don’t think slutty dressing gets women raped. (Indeed, I can imagine modest shrinking violets being horribly exciting to some nasty men). And I do think it’s unwise of parents to let young teenage girls dress tartily, not least because it promotes a trend, I think, whereby young girls wrongly think they are streetwise.
Actually, I don’t think all rapes are the same, and I don’t think all rape victims are equally free of some responsibility for their predicament. And I do think that when some women bang on about their right to dress any way they please, they may need reminding that almost always when one claims a right, one is wise to consider one’s responsibilities. In this case, I’d say young women might be wise to remember that they need to be sensible in matters of drink, drugs, dress and deportment – and be very careful with whom and where they let themselves go.
I would say – and I didn’t and should have – that my feeling about sluttiness in women’s dress is that it is sometimes a joyful expression of freedom (the Slutwalks, the trend for Burlesque, Goths etc). But I do also feel that it is sometimes curiously a matter of women being disrespectful of themselves. So women have a perfect right to go about semi-naked, but I would prefer they had more sense of their own dignity.
I hope that helps.
Yes, it did help, Mr. Richard D North. It helped to birth a cracking new game called Spot how Many Things are Wrong With What You Just Said which has produced hours of exquisitely angry fun.