"I get pretty angry when someone suggests that women are 'asking for it' if they dress a certain way. And up until today, my outrage was mostly directed at the notion of “asking,” the notion that dressing a certain way is a request of any sort. People should feel free to dress however they want! But of course, our choice of dress does communicate things, and we all know that; we all have reasons for dressing one way on one day, and another on the next. Pretending otherwise isn’t quite exactly to the point.
"What is to the point, what really is outrageous, is the notion of 'it.' When people say women are 'asking for it' by dressing provocatively (whatever that means), the 'it' they are referring to is sexual harassment. Which, if you think about it, is saying that if you dress in a way so as to stimulate or invite sexual interest (which you are perfectly entitled to do), you are simultaneously asking to be sexually harassed...as though men just can’t be expected to worry their pretty little heads about the difference between sexual interest and sexual harassment.
"Which of course is the whole problem; men all too often don’t know or care what sexual harassment is, or at least not enough to not do it.
"If I ask for a pat on the back and turn so you can give me one, I suppose I am taking the risk that you might instead strike me so hard as to injure or even cripple me. But taking that risk is my business; if you do decide to crack my spine, it is beyond absurd to say that I asked for it. There is only one person to blame for an assault, a harassment, or even a professionally inappropriate expression of sexual interest that might be appropriate in another context. It’s the person who chooses to do it, not the person trying desperately to juggle risks in a screwed-up, misogynist world.
"So the next time someone refers to someone as 'asking for it,' ask them to clarify what 'it' means. My guess is they’ve probably never even thought about it."