Falsies don’t mean ‘yes’

Manitoba justice was wrong to base ruling on rape victim’s clothing


All you girls out there better think twice before dressing up for a night out. After all, it seems that wearing a braless tube top is now judicially perceived as equivalent to the phrase, “Yes, I would like to have intercourse with you.” Heels mean you’re a harlot, in case you didn’t know, and wearing makeup implies you’re ready for a whole lot of fun. In future, eyes on the floor, skin clear, and for Christ’s sake keep those ankles covered. That way, we won’t have any confusion about so-called “consensual” sex.

These helpful hints are in accordance with a recent ruling by Manitoba’s Justice Robert Dewar, who decided that a man convicted of rape would not serve time in prison. According to Dewar, the victim sent signals that “sex was in the air,” specifically noting her attire which included high heels, a tube top without a bra, and lots of makeup. Commenting on the behaviour of the victim and her friend, Dewar said, “They made their intentions publicly known that they wanted to party.”

The obvious explanation is that Justice Dewar must’ve studied under Toronto’s Constable Michael Sanguinetti, who told a room full of York University students last month that they can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like “sluts.” The onus is on you, girls; make sure you don’t give the impression that you’re some sort of trollop. Because if you do—well, that’s pretty much the same thing as explicitly saying “yes,” right?

Actually, no. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the idea of implied consent as a viable defense over a decade ago in a ruling involving the case of R. v. Ewanchuk. And before that, in 1992, Canada established rape shield law provisions essentially limiting the extent to which a victim’s sexual history could be brought into a rape trial. Both moves were seen as positive steps forward with regards to altering “blame the victim” attitudes often prevalent in sexual assault cases. But as they say, one step forward…

Rulings such as Dewar’s and comments such as Sanguinetti’s not only reinforce negative stereotypes about rape victims who “ask for it,” but will likely dissuade further victims from coming forward and pressing charges. As is, just one in nine cases of sexual assault is actually reported to police; and I can see why victims may want to avoid having their tube tops as Exhibit A and their flirtatious texts as Exhibit B. As long as we keep blaming the victim, we can expect few to come forward.

So let me reiterate: a tube top doesn’t mean “yes.” Falsies don’t mean “yes.” Nor does a smile, or a wink, or a hair toss or twirl. The clothing of the victim in the Manitoba case shouldn’t have been used as the basis for Dewar’s ruling. Those of us who know that shouldn’t less the grass grow under our feet. And mine, I can assure you, will be wearing some killer heels.


Falsies don’t mean ‘yes’

  1. Your comments about Dewar are spot on, but putting him and Sanguinetti in the same category isn’t.

    Sanguinetti’s comment comes from the right place. It’s not really all that different from “travel in groups.” Does saying travel in groups mean that girls traveling alone are giving consent, absolutely not–but girls alone are more likely to be attacked.

    Telling women not to dress like sluts isn’t accusing them of giving consent, it’s a realistic warning. It’s not fair, and Sanguinetti worded it as badly as he possibly could, but it came from the right place.

    Dewar’s ruling, in contrast, is wrong in every way. He should be ashamed of himself.

  2. The judge did find him guilty, but reduced his sentence due to what was going on in his twisted mind. While I’m as emotionally outraged as many others, it is, unfortunately, at least possible that his decision did reflect the state of the law as it stands.

    If so, of course, it’s a sad state, and Parliament needs to get to work making the law concerning sexual assault clear… clear enough to make sexual assault a thing of the past in Canada.

  3. Judge Dewar has to be a complete moron or a criminal.
    This is just another example of what a disgrace the justice system is in this country.
    Let’s see if he is fired.
    My guess is “not”.

  4. When will Canadian and USA courts understand – rape is not about sex. Rape is about control and abuse of power. The rapist used the bodily organs of sex in order to violently show the victim that he thinks she doesn’t have the right to be human.

  5. Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power. Every woman wearing a crown or a cape better beware.

  6. Hard to believe Dewar was appointed by Harper’s Conservatives, guess he’s as serious about law and order as he was about leavin income trusts tax exempt, not stacking the senate, not running a deficit and a boatload of other BS.

  7. I believe Sanguinetti did not mean to be insensitive. But he (as well as you and most Canadians) are grossly under-educated when it comes to sexual assault and rape mentality. Telling women they “shouldn’t” do something in order to avoid rape is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle.
    Hopefully these cases spur some radical and much needed change to how the masses understand these issues.

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