Following the sexual assaults of dozens of women that took place in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve, men in Amsterdam took to the streets in miniskirts to show solidarity with women and protest the culture of victim-blaming by politicians and in the media following any sexual violence.
Braving the cold January day in Amsterdam, the protestors (both men and women) marched through the streets yelling chants like “Yes means yes! No means no!” The protest was an attempt to draw attention to a woman’s right to wear whatever she pleases as well as shift the attention away from the attackers allegedly being refugees and toward the attacks themselves.
After the attacks, Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker said that women should adhere to a “Code of Conduct” which includes rules on how to dress and behave, such as remaining an arm’s length away from strangers or “sticking within their own groups.” Public figures perpetuating victim-blaming is not uncommon, but this statement is extreme and further shifts the focus away from the attacks themselves while blaming the women who were attacked. Dozens of women in the city center on New Year’s Eve report being groped, robbed, sexually assaulted, and in one case, raped by the nearly 1,000 men who had surrounded the train station— making the large group impossible for women to avoid. To suggest any of these women had in any way been responsible for these attacks is disappointing and ridiculous and is this type of victim-blaming.
In response to Reker’s remarks, Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher posted on his Facebook page “It’s a completely wrong signal. Every woman has the right to freedom and safety in our society, and after something bad happened it is not right suggest that the victim herself could have done something about it. The short skirts argument is fortunately no longer acceptable to trivialize sexual violence.”
It seems that much of the political and media attention following the attacks focused on police chief Wolfgang Albers' comments to the reporters that the group of men were from "the Arab or North African region." The media focused on the reports of the attackers ethnicity rather than on the attackers themselves and the clear violation of women’s safety that took place. This worsened the already tense relations between German citizens and those seeking asylum.
The men in miniskirts protest was met with some criticism including concerns that one small protest could not change the age-old problem of victim-blaming and men in skirts is just a way for men to get attention. Although a man in a skirt is nothing to be scoffed at, flipping the gender stereotypes in this way does call attention to the ridiculous nature of victim-blaming and shows men’s solidarity with women in the fight to end slut-shaming and victim-blaming.
Yes means yes,No means NO !!!Amsterdam solidarity against women violence !Posted by Iris Piris on Saturday, January 16, 2016
Images via AKSIE: Mannen in minirok Facebook page
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