Related to this question, but refering to a specific post.

I have 6 reputation so far, but would like to leave some sort of remark (comment, another answer) at an old, accepted answer. How can I do this? This answer might wrongly influence opinions of people searching for the topic, because it seemingly provides more evidence than there is (one supporting study vs. two supporting studies).

While overall, the answer is not neccessarily bad, the way its second reference is quoted is definitely misleading.

So far (when having no reputation), I posted a new question to address this.

And should I move my question to meta? I'm not sure it fits here, either.

Edit: Since my question is deleted, the reference (stars mine) is given as: (tell me and I'll delete it here again, too -- or edit it out yourself)

"An Examination of Date Rape, Victim Dress, and Perceiver Variables Within the Context of Attribution Theory"

Workman JE, Freeburg EW., Sex Roles, Volume 41, Numbers 3-4, 261-277 (1995)

This study found in part that the way a woman choose to dress is 
sometimes taken as a statement about her character including
vulnerability, desire and/or willingness to have sex and provocation
of males **which consequently affects the likelihood of rape**,
including date rape.

Looking at the paper, this study investigated only the perception of responsibility by people who 'read a date rape scenario' and saw a photo. It does not in any way study the connection between clothing and incidence of rape.

1 Answer 1


If you don't have enough reputation to take certain actions, but have a concern about a question, you can do one of the following:

  • Work to improve your reputation
  • Ask a question like this in meta (including the original detail would be helpful)
  • Mention it in the skeptics.SE chat room and see if others agree (although our chat room is notoriously underused, compared to some other SE sites)

Regarding your specific concern, there is already a highly upvoted comment by Tacroy making the same point you do about the second study. I've added my own upvote.

The fundamental problem here is that it is hard to imagine a study (at least an ethical one) that could definitively answer the question, as asked.

What are you going to do, dress women differently and send them out into clubs to see which ones get raped? Survey rapists and see who their favorite victims are?

So it might be that studying the way that people perceive women in the scenarios presented in the study might be the best we can do.

Personally, I think most of the answers are looking at this all wrong anyway, the answer to "can you avoid sexual assault by dressing less provocatively" is clearly no, because women of all kinds, in all manner of dress are sexually assaulted on a regular basis.

  • Thank you, I admit I didn't see that comment, even though I looked for a comment like that! "highly upvoted" - sadly, no. It probably wasn't even shown by default. But I guess I cannot expect to leave a higher rated comment, so this resolves my question. Since I still think this is a highly misleading (wrong) quote in a highly upvoted, accepted answer, I'll leave / reformulate my question in meta and then there's probably nothing that can be done.
    – dasWesen
    Oct 2, 2018 at 9:28
  • But to what you wrote: "What are you going to do " - query victims for what they wore (e.g., the shortness of shirt / pants can be measured in some way.) Then you'd need statistics on what the average women at that time and place is wearing (not so difficult to get?) And yes, you could definitely survey (convicted) rapists. I'd not necessarily trust their answers, sure...
    – dasWesen
    Oct 2, 2018 at 9:36
  • I really like what you say in your last paragraph, add sources that would be an answer. Because that's the foremost reason why one would be interested in the question. And statistics of what victims wear, compared to the average population, is evidence in my opinion.
    – dasWesen
    Oct 2, 2018 at 9:40
  • @dasWesen I think moving the detail into this question is fine, you don't need a second meta question about the content.
    – BradC
    Oct 2, 2018 at 13:30
  • @dasWesen Some of the other answers do mention studies that take perspectives like you're suggesting, but none are perfect. Let's say you could study in detail what assault victims were wearing, what is the "control group" to compare against? Women in the same club that weren't assaulted? Women at the same college? Women in the local church? Research like this is always largely inferential, which is why some of the most valuable work is meta-analysis that attempts to synthesize related individual studies in an attempt to come to a better overall conclusion. TL;DR: sociology is hard.
    – BradC
    Oct 2, 2018 at 13:39
  • I agree, it wouldn't be easy. But yes, you name it. Women in the same club that weren't assaulted. And for offenses at home, ask random women what they wore last (weekday & daytime of the rape) when they were at home. Yes it would be an expensive study, for each case (case-group) you'd need a reference sample. And you'd have to go wait for and talk to women who're alone at night in some dark corner... But if anyone would seriously consider clothing to have an effect, given how many people are raped, it would be worth it. (But I guess the people claiming such a thing don't do the studies
    – dasWesen
    Oct 2, 2018 at 14:34
  • @dasWesen Sure it might be interesting academically, but I think I'd argue with you about whether a study like that would be "worth it"; even if you were able to measure an effect; that, say, an inch shorter skirt length made you 2% more likely to be groped. So? Does that mean "If you don't want to be groped, don't dress like a slut" is actually useful and helpful advice? No, it really isn't.
    – BradC
    Oct 2, 2018 at 15:05
  • It's not about groping, right? If "no miniskirt/hotpants => 50% less chance of being raped on a night out", I'd consider that useful advice. (But I guess that is opinion based.) And well, any result of that kind always plays into the hands of people blaming victims (not saying using this as an argument would be valid in any way). Maybe that's why no one does it.
    – dasWesen
    Oct 2, 2018 at 15:12

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