The Guardian and the ‘Sluts’

By Iqbal Tamimi

When women wear less they are called sluts; when men wear nothing, they are called naturists or athletes.

It was interesting to read yet again another discussion about women’s appearance on May 15, 2011. The Guardian published the views of five colleagues working in the media. They were Julie Bindel, Jo-Anne Nadler, Brix Smith-Start, Shaista Aziz and Vicky Simister. The discussion was about the ‘Slut Walk’ event, and whether it is a good idea to tell women and girls that they should be free to dress ‘sluttily’.

For many years I have been reading the Guardian, but I have never encountered any article that disputes men’s choices of the amount or the style of clothes they put on or take off, or their nudity for that matter. I hope I will not be misunderstood again in my defence of women’s rights; I have been accused before of attempting to corrupt women’s morals in the Middle East. Even worse, I was accused of being a feminist Muslim woman wearing a Hijab – for the sake of clarification, ‘feminist’ is not a positive description of a woman in the Middle East.

I believe it’s every individual’s right to choose what he or she wants to wear as long as those clothes do not cause harm to others, but I also believe that we should be held responsible for the consequences of our choices. The media has been circulating some ideas that point the finger of accusation towards women who are raped or sexually assaulted if they happen to be wearing what the media describes as ‘provocative’. The word provocative exposes a male-dominant media that not only offends women, but is also offensive to men, because such choice of words hints that men are predators in nature, sexually driven beasts; that when some flesh is exposed they can’t control their desires, they start drooling and their braking systems are disabled instantly.

Let’s be realistic, if a woman was aroused by an attractive looking male magnet, the harm she might do him could go as far as whistling, giving him a piercing look or in extreme cases, she might go wild to the a point of touching him, but she can never make him pregnant. Rape or physical assault is a sickness and has nothing to do with the amount of clothes people wear, though women must do their best to minimize the possibility of being hurt by someone mentally unstable.

‘Normal’ men do not rape women just because they see part of their bodies, otherwise men would rape their mothers, and every woman sunbathing on the beach would return home carrying some stranger’s sperm. We still read about men who have the power and the money to buy all the sexual pleasures available for sale, yet they choose to attack vulnerable women. Women are raped in their thousands every day in some conflict areas like Congo – but not because of how little they wear. Rape here is not about individual physical pleasure, it’s about control, aggression, humiliation and revenge.

A psychologically balanced man would never force himself on a woman, but a sick one would. From my point of view, choosing to wear modest clothes is a protection strategy against those who have a vacant area between their ears, those who see women as meat hanging in a public place and consequently they have the right to help themselves to it.

But what is really disappointing is the considerable amount of press articles and literature that are judgemental of women’s appearance, while hardly any criticize men or discuss similar concerns. Even the expressions used to describe parts of women’s body in the press are rather cheap and vulgar, while the expressions that are used to describe the physical features of men have usually an athletic, healthy or sporty positive tone.

I have done my homework, but I could not find a word that describes men who wear fewer clothes than is thought acceptable by the majority of society, or described as ‘provocative’ to women, or a word synonymous to the word ‘sluts’ used usually to describe women.

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