Canadian police might not know the difference between law students, Kim Cattrall, and victims of sexual assault.

Sigh.

You know, I kind of get what this police officer was trying to say. When speaking in front of a group of law students at Osgoode Hall Law School, a Toronto cop told women they could avoid sexual harassment and assault by not dressing like sluts.

As a black person, I’ve heard similar things. If you don’t want to get racially profiled, “don’t dress like a gangbanger” and all that. And that kind of advice is true to some extent. It’s not “fair,” but you have to be aware of how you present yourself.

The thing is, what kind of idiot white male cop thinks that female law students don’t already know this? I think women at a law school in Canada know damn well that they can’t walk around campus dressed only in a bra and hot pants. They should be able to walk around in whatever the hell they like without being sexually assaulted, but they know how the world works.

When did dress sense become a safety tip?

Excalibur reports (gavel bang: ABA Journal) on our latest idiot police officer:

On Jan. 24, a campus safety information session was held at Osgoode Hall, where members from York security and two male officers from Toronto police 31 Division handed out safety tips to community members.

Ronda Bessner, who attended the session, remembered being surprised by what the officer suggested to women.

“One of the safety tips was for women not to dress like ‘sluts.’ He said something like, ‘I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this,’ and then he uttered the words,” said Bessner, Osgoode assistant dean of the Juris Doctor Program. “I was shocked and appalled. I made contact with the police [...] and we’ve asked for a written apology and an explanation.”

I mean, maybe if you are talking to a group of 15-year-old girls, there would be a point of saying that. Maybe 15-year-olds need to know that in this crappy, crappy world they’ll be more “at risk” if they dress in a sexually provocative way. Not because they are asking for it, but because some men are nasty, brutish and short small.

But that’s not a “tip” fully grown women need. Women have been living with this crap all their lives. I just don’t think they need to hear fashion tips from police officers.

The officer apologized, but he doesn’t seem to get exactly why his comments were so offensive. The Toronto Star reports:

A police officer who suggested women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like “sluts” has apologized, saying he is “embarrassed” by the remark and that assaulted women are “not victims by choice.”

“I made a comment which was poorly thought out and did not reflect the commitment of the Toronto Police Service to the victims of sexual assaults,” Const. Michael Sanguinetti wrote on Thursday to Osgoode Hall Law School where he made the comment.

“Violent crimes such as sexual assaults can have a traumatizing effect on their victims. . . . My comment was hurtful in this respect.”

No, you idiot. Your comment was not hurtful because sexual assaults are serious crimes. Your comment was stupid because you think that they way a grown women dresses has a relevant impact on their likelihood of being a victim of a crime.

“Slutty” dresses do not constitute contributory negligence to a sexual assault. Is it possible that the Toronto police department doesn’t understand that?

Well, even if the police don’t get, I’m pretty sure female law students do understand that. So next time, why not give them actual safety tips, instead of telling them crap their fathers have been saying since they were old enough to wear make-up.

Don’t dress like a slut: Toronto cop [Excalibur]
Cop Disciplined for Advising Law Students at Safety Session Not to Dress Like Sluts [ABA Journal]
Cop apologizes for ‘sluts’ remark at law school [Toronto Star]


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