This is a very old feminist war cry and I am an old feminist and I believe it still holds true. I watched a discussion on the TV about women tempting men by wearing unsuitable clothes. This is such an old nut that I am amazed that we are still trying to crack it. Most of the audience were young and though there was a vocal group who realised the insanity of blaming women for the incontinence of men, most of the audience was clearly uncertain on this. And who can blame them when such luminaries as Joanna Lumley come out of the woodwork to give voice to the idea that men are such feeble creatures that they have no self control at all and take no responsibility for their actions.

I see young women wearing extremely scanty clothes in the middle of winter and I admire their bravery. As a woman who wore pelmet like skirts with bare legs in the snow I feel empathy even as my kidneys wince in sympathy. I  am late with this insight as I have been nursing a chest infection for a week or two, and no I don’t blame my low cut cheesecloth tops for this. Probably many years of roll up fags are responsible. The fact that I now smoke rarely appears not to influence.

And no I am not keen on the plumbers bum fashion on girls or boys any more than my mum was keen on my skirts. Fashions change and the role models in the media show us unreal representations of dress. As did Twiggy and the Marianne Faithful in my youth when beefy or bony legs were exposed in the mini. And why not? There should be no rules of dress for girls – or for boys. Sanity – or conformity kicks in and we attempt to emulate our princesses eventually – or some of us do! Praise be not everybody goes this way.

But once more: NO it is not the fault of women or their dress that causes rape it is the rapists that do that and to give them an excuse for their action is criminal. We have all seen how rape survivors are pilloried in the media and subjected to mental torture by defendants and we hear anecdotes about  police derision and the ‘she asked for it’ mentality. I also know that none of my ideas are original but I reiterate nonetheless.

I would like to say that I am surprised that forty years have gone by – at least – and still this same stale old argument goes on. I remember in the seventies that we reckoned – or I did that attitudes would change radically and I know that they have in some quarters but while we blame clothes for rape – I do slightly despair.

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