OK, I’ll grant for a moment that I may be a bit biased here. After all, I’m a red-blooded man. However, my bias ends with the belief (one that Brian seems to tacitly hold) that I am a base creature, who is completely unable to resist the shapely form of woman.

This is the implication of Brian’s words. His suggestion is that women must dress modestly, because men are incapable of reason or control should a woman appear wearing anything more revealing than a sackcloth. Is he really so unable to refrain himself from his urges that instead he has to demand women everywhere conform to his standard of modesty? What is he afraid of? That his inner lust monster will take over and force him to do something inappropriate?

This is about blame. It’s the same old story. It is used all the time to justify – or at least mitigate – the responsibility of men for their own actions. ‘That woman’s dress was short, therefore my client felt she was leading him on and enticing him. My client was not in control of himself because of her outfit, and therefore the law should be lenient’. Such an argument should have been confined to the bin a very long time ago, it’s what Brian is saying, whether he fully means it or not. The effort to shift responsibility for sexual misconduct – be it violent crime such as rape or be it infidelity – onto the woman’s shoulders has been pushed onto us for centuries. The Bible and other religious texts have been vehicles for this idea, and people like Brian continue to push this agenda.

What is Brian expecting. On a blisteringly hot day should women dress for the weather or should they worry that a weak-minded man might get aroused and be unable to contain himself? Should a woman’s outfit be seen as an excuse for such behaviour? Is that reasonable to Brian? He demeans men and women by thinking along such lines. His message fails to teach men to be responsible for their own actions. It is unfair to force women to be held accountable for a man’s inability to behave. We should put such notions to the bonfire.

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