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Heated debate: Does provocative dress invite rape?

The rape case in Steubenville has many talking about how such situations could be avoided, and what type of education or outreach might make such crimes less likely to occur. The issue of just who needs to be educated, among potential victims and potential rapists, sparked a heated debate on KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don Show.

Host Don O’Neill began the conversation asking if at some point he should actually be telling his son straight out it’s not OK to rape someone.

“Do you have to teach boys not to rape? Am I going to have to teach my son that some day?” asked Don.

“I think so,” said co-host Ron Upshaw.

Producer Libby Denkmann said she thinks there needs to be a date rape curriculum in high school.

“I believe that there does need to be more clarity and more information out there about date rape and about where the line is, about people being intoxicated and not being able to consent.”

Suggesting another potential area for education, Ron said parents might want to let girls know what message their clothes might be sending.

“Girls need to know that the way you appear does send a message.”

This is where the fireworks really started.

“What you’re saying right now is part of the culture or blaming the victim and putting that message out there is a problem,” said Libby. “Putting a message out there that says you girls need to be aware of what you’re wearing because you’re inviting this, that is so inviting a culture of blaming the victim.”

Ron said he’s not blaming the victim, but dress is a choice and girls should be aware that the choice of what they wear might put them in a more vulnerable position. He elaborates with a choice he once had to make in regards to managing his own safety.

“Don and I, when we were living in New Orleans, were driving into a certain neighborhood, theoretically we should be able to go into any neighborhood we want in New Orleans, we lived there, we were residents of New Orleans,” said Ron.

“I was told, ‘Don’t go into this neighborhood. You guys duck below the window of the car.’ I had to be self aware enough to go, you know what, in America I should be able to go into whatever neighborhood I want, however, given this circumstance maybe I just recognize that it would be unwise of me to do this, so I didn’t do it.”

He said it’s not about blaming the victim, it’s about being aware of the risk and making a choice.

“There’s an awareness. I was made aware of what my actions might do, so I had to weigh those and say, you know what, this is the choice I’m going to make,” said Ron. “In the real world, there are consequences to the choices that we make, including how we choose to dress.”

Libby said Ron’s position is part of the problem.

“I so disagree with you on this Ron, and what you just said to me just shows that we need to do more education about the rape culture in this society.”

What do you think?

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