Theresa M. Beiner wrote the informative paper entitled, “Sexy Dressing Revisited: Does Target Dress Play A Part In Sexual Harassment Cases.” In certain parts of the article, Beiner discusses about popular views on provocative clothing and sexual harassment and rape. The paper points out how harassment is influenced by perceptions of passiveness and submissiveness. People will also learn that revealing attired is considered a sign of dominance and assertiveness, and that is why, individuals who prefer wearing provocative dresses are at lower risks of being victims of harassment.
Meanwhile, Beiner’s paper also discusses why people think that provocative dressing results in sexual harassment or rape. As people witnessed from various rape cases, jurors normally think that a woman’s attire is indicator of whether she will be sexually harassed or not. This belief resulted from research that focused on women’s attire. In one study, women thought that the provocatively dressed model is more likely to get sexually harassed. However, when men were asked, they thought that women who dressed nonprovocatively or conservatively are also at risk of being victimized. Thus, this research concluded that it is women who are more apt to think that provocative attire increases chances of sexual harassment or rape.
Though most people think that dress is a significant factor in sexual harassment or rape cases, studies on rapists suggest otherwise. In fact, results showed that rapists look for indicators of passiveness and submissiveness, qualities that normally accompany people who wear body-concealing clothes.
Another study attempted to determine whether men are capable of assessing the levels of passiveness and submissiveness of women. Results of the research indicated that men could identify women as passive and submissive or dominant and assertive based on nonverbal appearance cues. One of the indicators that men used are the women’s clothes. Highly passive and submissive women are more apt to wear body-concealing clothes, such as high neckline tops, long pants and sleeves, and multiple layers of clothes. This result implies that men associate body-concealing clothes with passiveness and submissiveness. Thus, in conclusion, rapists, who prefer passive and submissive women, are more apt to victimize women clad in body-concealing clothes.
Thus, based on various research conducted, rape victims tend to have low scores in dominance, assertiveness, and social presence. As such, even though people think that rape victims normally were provocative attire, appearing attractive to others is not correlated with having submissive characteristics. In fact, studies have shown that a negative relationship exists between perception of attractiveness and traits that are deemed as indicator of vulnerability.
Still, results of scientific research contradict common belief on women’s attire and their chances of getting sexually harassed or assaulted. Moreover, the bigger question is why do most people, especially women, actually think that clothes are significant factors leading to such cases. Social scientists theorize that such belief stems from the “just world hypothesis”
In the abovementioned hypothesis, people believe that everyone in the just world end up getting what they deserve. Thus, this tends to make people believe that rape victims deserve what has been done to them. In addition, this hypothesis assumes that responsibility for one’s behavior adds to people’s security and that they can avoid suffering from the same fate.
In case of sexual harassment, more women believe that the type of dress has something to do with being sexually harassed. Victims tend to get blamed for their fate, which possibly resulted from wearing provocative clothing.
The “just world hypothesis” is somewhat related to “harm avoidance” theory. In this theory, women put the blame on the victims in order to control their lives and to continue believing that nothing bad, such as sexual harassment, will happen to them. And given that they associate provocative clothing with increased chances of being sexually harassed, they tend to wear more conservative dresses.