It is a sad reality that rape and other forms of sexual assault and harassment are prevalent in our society. Every 98 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted. These people are likely to be younger and likely to be women. 1 in 6 women in America have been raped, it is an epidemic that is sweeping our nation. Many women live in fear that they will one day become a statistic, that they will be taken advantage of. Women and young girls are constantly aware of the danger they’re in and act accordingly- they take precautions, keep themselves out of certain situations, and remain cognizant of who they’re with and where they are. This problem has seen national attention lately with the exposure of Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual harasser and assaulter. Several of his victims have come forward with their stories about their interactions with Weinstein. Emily Neston, for example, revealed in a recent interview that on her first day as a front desk assistant at Miramax, Harvey made comments about her appearance, calling her a “pretty girl” and other demeaning names. The next day he insisted he meet her at a hotel, and while there he verbally sexually harassed her.
We must start taking steps to end this evil. It cannot be allowed to continue. In order to meet this goal, I advocate that we require women to wear head to toe coverings whenever they leave the house so they do not draw the attention of men anymore. Clothes distract men and can cause them to think that women want to be with them. Loose fitting, bland, boring coverings will make it impossible for men to make these assumptions or be otherwise distracted by women. There are numerous benefits to this plan, the most important being a reduction in the number of rapes, assaults, cat-callings, or other harassments that women are constantly subjected to, since all of them are triggered by a man’s reaction to a woman’s body. Second, since their faces will be covered, women won’t feel pressured to conform to societal beauty standards. A perceived failure to meet these standards usually causes insecurity and other mental and emotional problems among women. The inability to see a woman’s face because of the covering means they won’t have to worry about that anymore. Third, since the coverings are loose fitting, there will be no chance of body shaming by men or other women. Fourth, women won’t want to party as much if they’re forced to abandon their usual outfits for bulky, drab clothes. If women aren’t at parties anymore, they won’t get drunk and therefore be so unintelligible that a man can’t understand them when they say the word “no.”
People may argue that clothes have nothing to do with the likelihood of being assaulted or harassed, but this is a proven fact. When prompted with the question, “Are rape victims who dress provocatively asking for it?” an anonymous writer answered, “Why do you want to dress provocatively in the first place? What exactly is the reason for doing so? If you want to dress to draw attention to yourself, then be prepared to receive both good and bad attention. While the perpetrator is very much to be blamed for rape, I believe that the victim who dresses provocatively is equally at fault. It is one thing to say that the perpetrator could not control his desires, but it is quite another to place the entire responsibility on him. After all, it's your clothes those spark that desire in the first place.” This person, obviously an authority on the subject, has come to the conclusion that clothing makes women equally at fault, therefore it must be true. We should ignore all other evidence to the contrary.
There may be other solutions to this problem. These include harsher punishments for people found guilty of these acts. Currently, men like Brock Turner walk free while their victims still deal with the trauma of their actions every day; a tradition of stiff punishment might have made Brock think twice before ruining a woman’s life. Instead of giving short three month sentences, our criminal justice system should deliver severe, years long jail times for those found guilty of these crimes to send a message that these acts are completely unacceptable. Additionally, early education about consent could help cement in the minds of people that no means no, and silence does not mean yes. Finally, if we stopped shaming survivors who decide to come forward and share their stories, perhaps more would feel willing to speak about their experiences. However, all of these solutions assume that the fault lies with the perpetrator instead of the victim. That is a conclusion much of America has not yet come to.