Rob Ford’s niece, Krista Ford, has gotten herself into some twitter trouble with an ill-considered post advising woman that, to avoid being sexually assaulted, they should:
“Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore”
Hey, four out of five ain’t bad but, of course, the fifth piece of advice “don’t dress like a whore” has kicked off a predictable shit storm. (Some have suggested that her other advice, to carry mace, is also wrong, since mace is illegal in Canada. But, while mace or other sprays designed for use against humans are illegal in Canada, I gather than “bear” or “dog” spray, while regulated, isn’t illegal because it is designed for use on “bears” or “dogs” – you can buy it at MEC. Give the relative frequency of assaults by humans vs. assaults by bears, I’ll let you ponder the logic of that law, but there you have it. I doubt Krista Ford knows, or cares, that her “dog” spray isn’t mace. Also, given that she’s a Ford, and her ambition in life is to bench press Barbie, Krista may have had this kind of mace in mind.)
Now, I have time for critics of the “don’t dress like a whore” school of advice who say that (a) it’s not particularly useful advice because rapists don’t care what you wear (which, I suppose, is an empirical question, but sound right) and (b) it amounts to blaming the victim. Frankly, I agree with those critics. And too often, proponent of that school of thought ARE blaming the victim. A few years ago, when Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti advised woman to “avoid dressing like sluts”, I asked “[s]ince when did the Toronto Police Service start hiring officers with an IQ of 3?”
But, come on people, a little perspective here. First, it takes a real stretch of the imagination to interpret Krista Ford’s tweet as suggesting, as one of her critics has, that all rape victims are “whores” or that she was blaming the victim. Context matters, people. In other circumstances, if someone else (say, some fundamentalist nutbag) said the same thing, I could see that being a plausible interpretation. Coming from a 21-year-old former lingerie football player, that’s an unlikely interpretation. She says that what she meant to say was: “that women should take measures to protect themselves and be very careful not to place themselves or allow themselves to be placed in vulnerable positions that may compromise their safety”. In this context, that sounds plausible. He advice was bad, not evil. Nothing to see here folks.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, does anyone care what Krista Ford thinks? Hey, when Constable Sanguinette mouthed off about “dressing like sluts” that was a problem. He’s a representative of the Toronto Police Service. If that’s the way cops think, that raises a whole host of questions. Krista Ford is not a representative of the Toronto Police Service. She’s not a celebrity in any meaningful sense of the term. She’s a Humber college student who used to play football in her underwear. Who cares what she thinks? I realize that, yes, she’s Rob Ford’s niece, and therefore, in some people’s eyes, a hell-spawn deserving of public shaming over an ill-conceived tweet. But don’t we have better things to worry about than trying to publicly shame Krista Ford in some weird effort to attack her uncle?