Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?

There are a number of things I don’t think of too often. What people wear is one of them. How they have their hair is another. Basically, if it’s style related, I’m not thinking of it. It’s just not “my thing.”

Yesterday I found this account from a 17 year old girl who was kicked out of prom because her dress was too short…except, it wasn’t too short at all. She’s one of those girls who’s fortunate enough to be beautiful, tall, thin, and have an amazing body. When she showed up, the prom organizer said the dress didn’t meet the “finger tip” length requirement. She showed them that it did and was allowed in.

Shortly after, they kicked her out anyway because “some of the dads who were chaperoning had complained that my dancing was too provocative, and that I was going to cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts. At this point I said to her that I hadn’t been dancing at all! Much less seductively, and that even if I had been being inappropriate, they should issue a warning instead of just kicking me out.”

Actually, the article was quite interesting. It’s her account of the events. How often do similar situations occur and just get swept under the rug? If something like this happened to my daughter or niece, I’d be pissed. If she was following the rules, she shouldn’t be held accountable for what the men around her may be thinking. Honestly, I see girls dressed more seductively walking down the street in shorts and a low cut or cut off t-shirt.

After reading that, I remembered something about a school banning yoga pants and leggings because girls wearing them created too much of a distraction for boys to concentrate.

When I went to find that article, I actually found this gem of an interview by Fox News talking about that story. I’d say “reporting,” but that might be a stretch. Anyway, their contributor, psychiatrist Keith Ablow, actually said, “I don’t know that we can restrain boys from being boys. So the long stare, the offhand comment, you have to — what do you do, excuse it? Because it was certainly provoked. And I think girls put themselves in the line of fire that way.”

I don’t know that we can restrain boys from being boys either. But since I’m raising two of them, I certainly hope we can set the expectations for the boys above where that psychiatrist has his expectations set. There are things that can’t be controlled. Our thoughts can’t always be controlled. If a teenager gets an erection, they can’t control that. However, if he goes on to make the “offhand comment,” we certainly shouldn’t claim that it’s okay because it was “provoked” by yoga pants or leggings. Actions can and should be controlled, but we need to teach boys that, not give them a free pass.

This, however, reminded me of Brother Dean Samuel, who is an attendee at University of Arizona. He protests (or, uh, preaches?) on the campus, holding up signs reading  “You Deserve Rape.” He shouts at women to “give up your immodest clothing” and “yoga pants are sin.” He goes on to say, “One street preacher said, you know, if you dress like it, you act like it, different things like that, you’re asking for it. Therefore, you deserve rape.” He also made a shirt saying “you deserve rape” which he wears while shouting at women passing by.

I understand that everyone, even that idiot, is entitled to their opinion, however asinine it may be. But how many people actually believe that? How many times have we heard people say similar things? Apparently, if a woman wears anything form fitting at all, “she is asking for it” and that must be the point where men are no longer responsible for their actions.

You may feel like I’m being harsh, but consider this. A 14 year old girl is raped by an 18 year old at a school in Texas. The man admitted to raping her. She said “no” and told him to “stop”, but he didn’t feel the need to listen. The judge determines the girl wasn’t a virgin and “She wasn’t the victim she claimed to be.”

The rapist’s sentence? 45 days in jail, 5 years of deferred probation and 250 hours of community service. The judge originally sentenced him to fulfill his community service at a rape crisis center. What was that judge thinking? She must have been thinking it would teach the rapist something, but what about the clients at center?

The center’s response was, “That’s like saying a pedophile should do their community supervision helping at a pre-school.” The judge has now taken off the mandate that the community service is done at the center.

I understand that a girl getting kicked out of prom because of her dress, or even because of provocative dancing, seems to have nothing to do with the rapist who received a light sentence. The common thread with all of these stories though is girls are being told they are responsible for what men are thinking or how they are acting. If a girl dresses provocatively, yeah, guys might think “impure thoughts.” However, the actions are a complete different story, and no woman is responsible for that.


32 Thoughts on “Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?

  1. It sickens me that people attempt to justify immoral behavior by casting blame at the victim. I read the post which you refer to yesterday, and I admit I’m a bit conflicted because I’m still not sure she wasn’t singled out simply because her date was black.

    Still, the point is this…even if a woman is walking down the street naked she doesn’t deserve to be raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. If a man cannot control his impulses he’s not only a danger to a woman who’s dressed “provocatively,” he’s a danger to anyone he comes into contact with. This bullshit with, “Well, she shouldn’t dress like that…” is getting old and it’s idiotic. That’s like saying I deserved to be robbed simply because I was carrying cash in my hands.

    People are stupid.
    Twindaddy recently posted…Share Your World – 2014 Week 19My Profile

    • They did an “update” post on the girl and prom. They specifically did say this:
      I would like to ask that everyone commenting on the race issue would lay that aside, on the request of Clare’s boyfriend. He asked me pass this message on to you:
      I don’t feel race played a part in all that happened Saturday night. I strongly believe they did not know we were together until the situation had already escalated.

      However, it’s sad that we are still living in a time where so many people have those concerns, because all people aren’t just treated fairly.

      By giving men such a free pass (and blaming everyone else) it is not giving men the credit they deserve. They are men, not animals. I agree that people are stupid!
      Rhonda @Bitch & Whine recently posted…Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?My Profile

      • Well, they may not want to admit it could be racial issue, but I can’t discount the possibility. There are still many racists among us (on all sides) and it makes their blood boil to see interracial couples.

        Whether it was because of race or because a bunch of morons who are allegedly chaperoning these teenagers drooling over a young woman who’s yet to reach legal age, this poor young woman (and her friends) were wronged and they have every right to be pissed off.

        This victim-blaming culture has grown tiresome.
        Twindaddy recently posted…25 Days, 25 Songs: Day 15My Profile

        • Ya know, I have often times been guilty of forgetting that racism isn’t extinct yet. I forget this because I live in a liberal and accepting area, I don’t hear about it and just don’t come into contact with it – it is the bubble I live it and I’m naive when it comes to that. Then I hear stories of actual racism, it makes my blood boil and gives me a reality check. It also makes me think that perhaps I’m not as jaded as I think I am. So, perhaps it could have been a racial issue.

          I agree that victim blaming is tiresome, but how to stop it? Except to draw attention to it when it happens and call it out as bullshit.
          Rhonda @Bitch & Whine recently posted…Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?My Profile

    • 100 million times YES!! When is a man “asking for it”? I can’t say I recall ever hearing that. Unless a guy is physically provoking another guy to fight, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say anything along the lines of “he had it coming.”

      I call it the vaginal double standard. WTF?!

      • I just get sick of people who won’t take accountability for their actions. I mean, a woman’s attire doesn’t FORCE anyone to do anything. Any reaction someone has to anything is THEIR responsibility. It’s frustrating how few people realize this.
        Twindaddy recently posted…25 Days, 25 Songs: Day 20My Profile

  2. Amanda on May 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm said:

    Notice the argument never goes on the behalf of men. How is it that they can run shirtless down my street and I’m expected not to hoot and holler. We need retrain our brains and teach our boys better.

  3. If men are so unable to control their thoughts and actions around attractive young women, then maybe our best shot is to just force women to cover up their bodies, faces, and hair so men can’t POSSIBLY find them attractive. Oh wait….

    What’s maddening is that women who dress that way in other cultures are STILL not safe from harassment or rape. And then the culprits use something stupid like, “I saw her eyes and couldn’t help myself. It’s HER fault” as an excuse. Thus proving that it doesn’t matter how women dress–men are turned on by literally everything. As you said, we should teach our boys how to deal with that in an appropriate manner. Without all this victim blaming nonsense.

    • Great point, Chelsey. Where are we supposed to draw the line? Why isn’t everyone screaming about personal responsibility, instead of trying to “protect” these boys/men who can’t or simply won’t control themselves. Yeah, if we set the expectation that low, the boys will probably achieve it. But they aren’t learning accountability for their own actions.
      Rhonda @Bitch & Whine recently posted…Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?My Profile

    • Well said! Men are not spurred to violence by curves or skin. A woman can walk down the street wearing anything. I don’t care if a guy turns and looks. But that’s all most men would do.

      The men who are dangerous are dangerous no matter what. They seek to overpower and abuse. That’s their aphrodisiac. And the more they are socially permitted to indulge, the worse it will get.
      Penelope recently posted…Little Help?My Profile

  4. Doug in Oakland on May 14, 2014 at 7:38 pm said:

    Everyone is responsible for their own biology, full stop. I could rant about this for hours, so I’ll try to make two points instead.
    First, this was a homeschooler’s prom. While I have respect for the intentions of anyone willing enough to involve themselves in properly schooling their children themselves, there is still an inherent problem with it: children need enough social interaction to learn the social skills that will be required of them by the society in which they live. These kids didn’t seem to know where they stood with the adults involved, or how much say they should have in something that they were the entire point of doing in the first place.
    I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing to say, but if she had been ejected from a similar event where I went to school, a riot would have ensued.
    Secondly, this is why we have laws and law enforcement. Thought experiment:
    Mr.A thinks my niece is dressed too provocatively, and thus rationalizing it, rapes her.
    I disagree, and retaliate by castrating him.
    Mr.A’s brother grabs his shotgun and kills me. Etc. etc. etc. etc.
    There is a Kurt Vonnegut story about a pretty girl and an old man that really applies here.
    Everyone loves the pretty girl except for the old man who resents having to deal with his own biology, greed and jealousy when he sees how beautiful she is and knows he can’t have her. She is ready to move away but finally confronts the old man, who is forced to admit that her very existence is not actually evil.
    Say it together with me now everybody: women are human beings, not possessions.

    • I agree that this is why we have law and law enforcement…otherwise it would be a free for all. But sometimes that system fails. In the case of the man who raped the girl – he got 45 days in jail and 250 hours of community service? That punishment is entirely too lenient for the crime. The system failed. I believe that it’s situations like this that really causes people to lose confidence in the system at all.
      Rhonda @Bitch & Whine recently posted…Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?My Profile

      • Doug in Oakland on May 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm said:

        You’re right. The criminal justice system does fail, especially where gender or race are concerned. That is why it is so important to be politically aware and active. Not only are these officials making these horrible mistakes, but we are paying them to do so. I don’t know if the public outcry actually forced a new sentence to be ordered in the Montana case, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
        The problem as I see it, is that for every high profile wrong that gets fixed, there are hundreds more that didn’t, and then thousands that didn’t get reported at all. It’s up to us to fix this if we want it to get better. And it has gotten somewhat better in recent years, but it will never be good enough until no sexual assault victim is intimidated by the system into failing to report their assault.
        That said, as bad as it is, our system is still far better than the places where a rape victim can be convicted of infidelity, or subject to “honor killing” by the males in her family.

  5. Our thoughts, good or bad, are private and only hurt or help someone when we allow ourselves to express them verbally. Once we turn those thoughts in to action we are responsible for whatever happens.

    “She shouldn’t have dressed that way” is no excuse and tells me the person is trying to blame another person for his lack of control and disrespect for females. We all have looked a bit too long at times at an attractive person, humans we are. However most just look and the others that turn their look in to an action that hurts and belittles should be held accountable for their actions. Sadly too many get a slap on the hand but times are changing with more public voices noting the injustice and bias towards women. Hopefully this will lead to more men thinking before taking that wrong action.

    • I agree Denise. I don’t think anyone should be held accountable for private thoughts. But idiots like that psychiatrist, who are going on TV encouraging others to blame the girls for what they are wearing, and saying boys will be boys, make me feel like if we don’t speak out against it, others will be influenced by it. Unfortunately, the one’s most likely to be influenced are teenage boys – and they may feel like it’s socially acceptable for them to make the offhanded comment. It’s not okay.
      Rhonda @Bitch & Whine recently posted…Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?My Profile

  6. As a former homeschool mom who graduated two children I am all too familiar with this line of thinking. Men putting the blame on women is nothing new. Isn’t the purpose of the burqa to protect men from thinking impure sexual thoughts?

    I have seen far too many pastors, especially youth pastors, blaming the girls in their youth groups for causing them to “stumble”. And rather than take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings (which are natural and not necessarily evil in and of themselves) they put the onus on the girls.

    It’s really quite crazy, if you think about it. What other “sin” is there where it’s the job of another person to keep you from doing it? Is it the restaurant’s fault if I’m a glutton? The bar’s fault if I’m an alcoholic?
    Chloe Jeffreys recently posted…Never Let Her Smell Your FearMy Profile

    • I totally agree Chloe! It’s easier to blame someone else than to take responsibility for our own actions, but that’s not the right thing to do. Pastors, husbands, single men, and boys – they all need to control themselves when it comes to women. Most men do, but it’s idiots listed above, and others like them, who make us have to have conversations like this. But, I think they are important conversations to have.

      Believe me, there are some people who make me angry enough that I want to punch them in the nose. I have to control my actions – and sometimes it’s pretty hard to do. But what they did or said does not justify me punching them.
      Rhonda @Bitch & Whine recently posted…Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?My Profile

  7. I am outraged these double standards still happen, even in our society with all the knowledge and information we now have.

    Why blame the girls? Why not blame, or at least put responsibility, on the guys? Because we still have this “boys will be boys” mentality? Eff that crap. Women have impure thoughts as well. It used to be taboo and now, for the most part, it’s okay for to women talk about it (thank you, Sex and the City).

    No one deserves to be mistreated or told they are responsible for someone else’s thoughts. It’s a damn shame this young girl had to miss out on what should have been a great night because some asshole decided to blame her. Total bullshit.
    Kim recently posted…Blogging Groove My Ass!My Profile

  8. Oh hold me back…… I have one of those daughters, followed by another one very soon. Tall at 5’9″ and thin as a pole, she too has a hard time finding a dress that fits the bill, but search and find we do. She is responsible for her modesty, but not for others actions, as for thoughts…. Go ahead have them, just don’t act them out. They are your own private thoughts, for you and only you.
    When I read this article it totally creeped me out that the dads were stating that the young men would have improper thoughts, as it made me feel like they were too. URGH! Gross.
    She followed the rules to the “T”, if someone had a problem with her RULE dress, they should have left!!!!! That is all….. :) Ray
    Ray recently posted…6 Things People Have Said About….My Profile

  9. This makes me want to scream and it makes me want to cry.
    Michelle recently posted…Something You Don’t Want To Think About When Thinking About Your CoworkersMy Profile

  10. I read her account of the situation. I thought her dress was really cute and actually thought the girl was way more mature about the situation than the people who kicked her out of the prom. I hope she knows a lot of people are on her side.

    I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for reading my blog post “HOW TO ADD A FAVICON TO YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG.” I’m so glad you found it helpful. Right now my blog is small and quiet (just started it in May) and you comment made me feel like hmmmm maybe this is worth it! Thank you for commenting and I wanted to say your blog is beautiful.
    Melanie Shebel recently posted…How to Add a Favicon to Your WordPress BlogMy Profile

    • Thanks Melanie. Do you see it there??? 😀 Ha ha! Wait. Crap. Why is it there for my home page but not on the pages of my posts? I probably did something wrong there.

      Anyway. I know I’ve seen two of your posts (this favicon one and the how to see what people share) that have been really helpful! I think you’ve gotta give yourself more credit than that – your blog is probably as big as this one, but it’s brand new – and helpful! This one is a work in progress (and a work in motivation). Thanks for saying it is beautiful though. 😀
      Rhonda @Bitch & Whine recently posted…Are People Responsible For Their Thoughts, Actions, or Neither?My Profile

  11. Yes, yes, and YES! I am so glad you wrote about this. I especially appreciate the distinction between thoughts and actions and what can’t be controlled versus what can. Great post!

  12. Pingback: George Will: The "Sexual Assault is a Coveted Status" Douchebag

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