On Short Skirts

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This week, the results of a recent British study revealed that over 50 percent of women believe that rape victims are partially responsible for their own assaults. In the wake of the news, Jenni Murray tells her story of being raped as a 19-year-old. Murray insists she doesn’t blame rape victims. But she does blame herself.

Murray lists three “extremely stupid” things she did on the night she was raped: (1) She “had been drinking in the pub” and was “not used to alcohol”; (2) she “went with a group of friends to the home of a much older man”; and (3) she was wearing “what my mother described, disapprovingly, as an extended belt, but what to me was just a fashionable mini skirt.”

Each of Murray’s “mistakes” falls under the category of normal teenage behavior. But unlike the first two, wearing a short skirt has little actual connection to a person’s personal safety—miniskirts are an entirely socially constructed vulnerability. So let’s focus for a minute on that extended belt:

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