Mr "Loophole" Nick Freeman did not say that women who dress provocatively deserve to be raped. This is, of course, how he has been quoted, after saying that racy garments somehow victimise men.
The fact that Nick Freeman feels victimised by women in skimpy apparel tells you more about Mr Freeman than it does about women, or men. It tells you nothing whatsoever about rape.
What it does tell you is that you can't win. Feminist commentators have erupted in fury at the suggestion that it might be a woman's fault if a man thinks she wants sex when she doesn't. But would they be any happier about the honest take on rape: that many of the victims I have dealt with are so unappealing that you wonder why anyone would even want to have consensual sex with them if it were on offer?
This doesn't include those attacked out running, walking the dog, in their own home, etc. But it does cover a massive proportion of rape victims, who may suffer with learning difficulties, alcoholism, low self-esteem, repetitive domestic violence and the like. These women are not dressed provocatively, and their circumstances lead to a demeanour that the majority of right-thinking men are not attracted to. I am not saying that these women bring rape on them in some way. But it's a fact that predatory men will seek out vulnerable women, and the resulting abuse is not something that most of society ever have to worry about.
Of course there are cases of "date rape", where the girl may well be dressed to the nines, leading to suspicion that she wanted to attract a bloke. Whether she wanted the bloke she ended up attracting is another matter. And in actual cases, the issue of consent rarely comes down to clothing nowadays: despite repeated articles suggesting it, juries are not usually convinced by an argument that sexy clothing plus going home with someone equals consent. Of course they are contributing factors to the overall story, but are separate from the very thorny issue of the act itself. A case this week is a prime example, where the girl went to a hotel room and possibly into a bed with her attacker, but he was still found guilty of rape by a jury.
Cases like this one rarely make it to court - not because they don't happen, but because they lack the kind of evidence required to make a decision either way. And yet date rapes often involve the more "useable" profile of victim, who when sober is a student, or in employment, and has a network of friends and family supporting them. What hope is there for the more common profile: the inarticulate, substance-abusing or mentally ill wreck, who has been abandoned by friends, family and society, and is at the whim of whichever violent predator she stumbles across next?
By all means, be outraged by Loophole Nick's injudicious comments. But don't think it scratches the surface of the issues the police face in trying to bring rapists to justice.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.