Police To Female Students: Want To Avoid Rape? Don’t Dress Like Sluts

Over at Above The Law, I found this rather odd report out of Canada:

“Don’t dress like a slut.”

That’s the safety tip for how women can avoid a sexual assault, reportedly offered by a Toronto police officer speaking at a campus safety information session at Osgoode Hall Law School last month. At the January 24 session, university security and two male officers from the Toronto Police Service gave advice for how to stay safe on campus.

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,” Ronda Bessner, Osgoode assistant dean of the Juris Doctor Program, told York University’s newspaper the Excalibur.

“I was shocked and appalled.” Fetter the meeting, she called the police service to demand an apology and followed up with a letter.

According to a spokesperson for the Police Service, the officer involved will apologize and has been disciplined, although because it was handled internally the punishment was not made public. “The comments were entirely inappropriate and should not have been made,” said Mark Pugash, the director of communications.

Gee, do ya think?

FILED UNDER: Education, Policing, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Matt B says:

    This is really an issue of how crappy binaries are for dealing with the world.

    The problem is western society is largely based on it. So he can either be right or wrong depending on one’s orientation. The truth is he’s both. Still, there was a reason that he wasn’t told to say it.

    And, in general the better tip, based on the statistics, is *never assume because you know someone, you are safe — especially around alcohol.* — random rape is far less common that rape by an acquaintance, typically when the woman is placed in a compromised position by a friend or relative.

  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    “Don’t dress like a slut.”

    That’s the safety tip for how women can avoid a sexual assault,…”

    The Taliban has been saying this for years.

  3. JKB says:

    Yes, but to the Taliban any woman who gets out of bed without her sheet over her head is dressing like a slut.

  4. Jay Tea says:

    With one slight, trivial difference, Patrick.

    These guys will go out and try to capture the rapist so he can be tried, convicted, and sentenced.

    The Taliban will declare the victim as a confessed adulterer/fornicator and kill her.

    An almost meaningless distinction, but someone had to say it.

    The message is simple: bad things happen. Certain things you do can increase the odds of those bad things happening. If the bad things happen, we will still do all we can to help you and bring justice to the situation, but it would be a good idea if you took some precautions yourself.

    When I want to go buy something expensive, I don’t get a wad of cash and stroll down to the store by a meandering route and carry the cash in my hands, counting it over and over. If I am robbed, it is still a crime.

    I did not deserve to be robbed, and the police will try to find and punish my robber. But it might not have happened if I had taken some basic precautions and exercised common sense.

    It’s good that the authorities will act once someone is victimized. But it’s better if they are not victimized in the first place.


  5. John C. Randolph says:

    Women in Burkas are raped every day. That cop is a pig-ignorant jackass, who shouldn’t be on the taxpayers’ payroll.


  6. Brooke says:

    The cop’s words could have been chosen better, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad advice. Most rapes are not influenced by dress, but some are. Even among the domestic ones, clothing can be a factor. I’d have to think that a man with an erection is more likely to commit sexual assault than a man who isn’t aroused.

    Think about how much money we spend on suntan lotion. Less than 10 000 Americans die of skin cancer each year, out of 2 500 000 total, and some of those deaths would have happened regardless of sun exposure. That works out to 0.4% of all fatalities, which means that skin cancer really doesn’t affect the national life expectancy at all. Surely modest dress would lower a woman’s risk of rape by more than 0.4%. Considering how paranoid we are about UV rays, shouldn’t we give basic decency a bit more attention?

    It seems that a lot of people resent being told what to do, even if what they’re being told to do is something they should be doing anyways. I’m no prude and I’ve worn my share of skimpy outfits, but I also recognize that I’m taking a risk every time I do so. The world doesn’t always play by the rules. “Don’t dress like sluts” is pretty good advice for anyone.

  7. Anon says:

    Studies have shown that rapists are FAR more likely to go after NON-slutty women- why? Because LOOSE clothes are easier to remove! Tight clothes are next to impossible to take off- so dressing like a slut in tight clothes actually makes it harder for a rapist to get to you! Guess this is what happens when you only hire high school grads to be cops.

  8. Conor says:

    What studies, Anon? Besides, I find that hard to believe. Allow me to take another’s comment (and cite it) as it will counter your seemingly ‘factual’ argument:

    “…a more girly woman in skimpy club wear must seem ( and most likely is ) an easy target. Rapists want control, the weaker the victim, the more control they have. Mini-skirts and high heels don’t make you look like a hard target. I’m sure looks must influence the choice of victim. Suppose you’re a rapist, you see a girl on each side of the street, one is an average clubbing young woman, fashionable revealing top, mini-skirt, high heels, purse, very thin, about 90 lbs for 5’2” or 3. The other is me, loose torn tee, big hoodie, cargo pants, worker boots, slender, about 150 lbs for 5’8”. If you want power and control over your victim, the choice is obvious.” (http://www.experienceproject.com/question-answer/Is-A-Woman-Far-More-Likely-To-Be-Stalked-Or-R-A-Ped-If-They-Wear-Provocative-Clothing/334862, MugiwaraBlair)

    And I agree entirely. The fact is, rapists are control-freaks, as everyone should know, and DO have a particular preference when it comes to their victims. First off, most of the women who are raped are below the age of 30, even though IF it was completely about control (and not looks) then it would be much easier to rape an older woman (this is also on the site I cited). I can’t help but read about other people’s comments and then think about them, and to also think about family members who have been molested in the past (including my mother). The whole ‘control’ thing makes sense, especially when you take a look at child molestation (because children are easy to control). But, besides that, children likely also look ‘good’ in a rapists eyes, as they are young and ‘supple’ I guess. The point is, rapists MUST care about the outside appearance of a woman (or even a man) when they make the choice of pursing them, because it would only be logical to do so.

  9. yamfood says:

    60-75% of rapes are premeditated and motivated by aggression and hatred, not sex. MOst sexual assault victims are wearing blue jeans or pajamas when they are assaulted, not provocative clothing. Rape victims are chosen for their vulnerability more than for their appearance. People who perpetuate the idea that women who dress a certain way are somehow “asking for it” are only blaming the victim.