Lots of people think that Charlie Brennan is a huge douchebag. But they raise a very important question: Is Charlie Brennan is a huge douchebag?
See what I did there? Rather than make an ad hominem attack (Charlie Brennan is a huge douchebag), I phrased it as an opinion and rather than claim it as my own I attributed it to a vague and unconfirmable group (Lots of people think that Charlie Brennan is a huge douchebag). Then, having camouflaged my personal opinion as that of the masses, I made it the subject of a phony debate (Is Charlie Brennan is a huge douchebag?)
Welcome to the logic (or lack, thereof) of modern political punditry, where the host of the show gets to frame each side of the debate. After all, why have an intelligent discussion with an actual person? If the opposing opinion is too nuanced for you to easily ridicule, just recast it as something completely ridiculous. It’s called “building a straw man,” a practice frequently engaged in by people who should know better (like talk show hosts) for the entertainment of those who don’t (their audiences).
On a recent broadcast about SlutWalk, KMOX radio’s Charlie Brennan rhetorically referred to the Toronto police officer who said women can avoid rape by not dressing like sluts, as a “cretin.” Then, in defending the police officer’s statement, Brennan said that the question is whether or not the officer really is a cretin. He doesn’t quote any organizer or supporter of SlutWalk as having called the officer a cretin, just implies it. As far as we know, Brennan himself is the only one who used the world. Perhaps the police can protest KMOX and call it “CretinWalk.”
Brennan, like many SlutWalk opponents, focuses on the word “slut” or the erroneous idea that SlutWalk is about encouraging women to dress “slutty.” That’s kind of like saying that the Boston Tea Party could have been avoided if the colonists had just switched to coffee, or that the Montgomery Bus Boycotts were really about encouraging black people to walk more for cardiovascular fitness.
SlutWalk is about violence against women and the “blame the victim” mentality that much of the opposition to SlutWalk perpetuates. Brennan seems to subscribe to the myth that women who get raped are somehow asking for it by dressing provocatively. It begs the question, what is and is not dressing like a slut? How does a slut dress? Can it be defined, or is it one of those Edwin Meese “I know it when I see it” sort of things? Brennan asks what a woman is saying when she “dresses like a prostitute.” When was the last time Brennan saw a prostitute in real life?
Case in point, a woman has a date on a Friday night. If she wears high heels, a short skirt and lipstick, is she asking her date to rape her? How about all the men she will encounter that night who aren’t her date? Should she go out dancing in baggy jeans and a college sweatshirt?
What if a woman wants to jog in the park? A sports bra and running shorts are more revealing than many outfits a guy like Charlie Brennan might consider slutty. Do rapist give an exercise exception, or should she stick to a full length jogging suit even in the summer when the mercury rises near a hundred degrees?
Let’s take it a step further, since pedophiles are attracted to children, let’s start dressing our children like adults. Send little Timmy to the playground in a Brooks Brother’s suit and a neck tie. If he wears that striped Rugby shirt again, he’s basically asking for it.
Folks, there’s no amount or style of clothing that will fool a rapist into thinking that a woman doesn’t have a body. Were that the case, no woman would ever be raped in countries that require burqas or a hijab. Ours is a society that punishes women for being women. Hollywood and Madison Avenue constantly tell women that they are not pretty enough, thin enough or sexy enough. When a woman tries to rise to this standard of beauty and gets raped, the message she gets is that it was her fault. When a woman doesn’t try to rise to this standard of beauty and gets raped, guess what, she gets the same message.
Charlie Brennan equates a woman being dressed provocatively with burning a U.S. flag in front of a soldier or carrying a confederate flag through a black neighborhood. Aside from the fact that the latter two actions are overt (a woman has to leave the house wearing “something” everyday, how often do you have to carry or burn a flag in front of anyone?), they are also not subjective. You either burned a flag or you didn’t, but who gets to decide what’s slutty and what isn’t? The potential rapist?
Someday, we will be the kind of society that is more offended by a man’s lack of control than a woman’s lack of modesty. Until then… SlutWalk.