Former actress Stacey Dash -- or, as I like to call her, the ghost of '90s past -- appeared on Fox News' Outnumbered on Friday to discuss last week's controversial order from the National Panhellenic Conference.
In a misguided attempt to reduce sexual assault, 16 sorority leaders instituted a ban, barring members of their UVA chapters from attending "Boys' Bid Night" fraternity parties on Saturday, and threatening sanctions if the ban was contravened. The prohibition triggered pushback from sorority members who argued that the ban encroached upon their right to act as autonomous agents. The move has also been criticized for how closely it echoes antiquated university policies, such as gender-based curfews and residential housing restrictions -- strategies which were gradually cycled out in the 1960s and 1970s.
In a stream of seemingly internalized misogyny, Dash offered this take:
I just think it's ridiculous, and I think it's a good thing for the good girls -- women, ok, sorry -- to be told, 'Stay home. Be safe.' The other bad girls -- bad women -- or the ones who like to be naughty might go out and play and get hurt.
To be clear, semantics matter.
Dash's reflexive use of the word "girls" may be written off as a Freudian slip, but as we know, these parapraxes might reveal subconscious thoughts and beliefs. And Dash's point to a toxic, albeit subliminal, phenomenon: the infantilization of adult women.
It is the conflation of femininity with childlikeness that subtly furthers the narrative that women are lesser entities -- bodies to be dominated. This social programming supports our culture's gendered hierarchy, reinforcing the primacy of men in a dangerous power matrix.
But it doesn't end there. According to Dash, there is also a hierarchy among women, between the "good girls" and the "bad" or "naughty" ones. But this is a false divide -- a schism borne out of the tension between pervasive rape culture and desperation.
The lie undergirding this misogynistic line of reasoning goes something like this: If you are a "good girl," then you have nothing to fear. Nice Guys will care for you, and the universe will reward you for being a respectable damsel. You will be spared. Conversely, if you are a "bad girl," you will, inevitably, suffer the consequences.
The truth is that the good girl/bad girl trope suffers from the same fatal flaw that respectability politics do: It wrongly assumes that violations of personhood are provoked by the individual being attacked. It works to challenge the virtue, decisions and humanity of the victim and justify the trauma sustained, effectively shaming the person for "bringing it upon themselves."
Because how dare women leave their home at night and go to a party and (gasp) drink?!
At least that's what Dash seems to think:
And then the other thing about this is it then blames the alcohol instead of the person who over drinks. So, you know, it's like the same thing with guns. Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Alcohol doesn't get you drunk. You get yourself drunk.
Notwithstanding, the false equivalency between consenting to drink and consenting to assault let us pretend that controlling for such factors is possible. By that logic, we should ban women from attending university. Or, maybe, bar them from seeing male friends or relatives, since they are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know. Perhaps women should not go out at all.
Of course, I'm being facetious.
I'm just curious as to why victims are always expected to modify their behavior in hopes of deflecting abuse from a society that devalues them anyway. Why are we not working to change our cultural ethos? How many times must pundits scream "teach men not to rape," only to debate the same futile prevention tactics?
And for the black community, specifically, how long are we going to ignore the parallels between rape culture and state-sanctioned violence? When will we acknowledge that "she was asking for it," sounds eerily similar to "he should've pulled up his pants?"
When will we collectively stop being clueless?