'Skinny Jeans Defense' Clears Australian Man of Rape Charges

Bloggers are aghast

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Last week, an Australian court acquitted a man named Nicholas Gonzales of rape charges brought by a 24-year-old woman. Gonzales avoided conviction because the woman was wearing tight-fitting jeans when the incident took place--jeans that, according to Gonzales's lawyer, would have been "difficult... to be taken off by someone else unless the wearer's assisting, collaborating, consenting." The so-called "skinny jeans defense" has bloggers clutching their heads and howling.

  • Even If She Took the Jeans Off, It Still Doesn't Equal Consent  Shakesville manager Melissa McEwan points out the shaky transitive logic underpinning the jury's decision. "It's not remotely difficult to imagine being in a situation where an evidently dangerous man with no compunction about hurting his victim is holding her down and demands she remove (or help remove) her clothing," McEwan writes. "Rape cases shouldn't be decided on bullshit like 'those jeans didn't come off by themselves.' Whether they did or didn't doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the presence or absence of consent."
  • 'It's Becoming a Trend,' notes Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice. "Not the tight pants -- those are old news -- but the role of skinny jeans in rape cases worldwide." Coscarelli recalls similar instances in South Korea and Italy in recent years. The South Korean case, like the Australian case, ended in acquittal, but in Italy, "the judge had a bit better of an idea of how these things work, upholding the conviction and stating, 'jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt.'"
  • Clothes Can't Talk  At Jezebel, weekend editor Hortense states the obvious: "The clothes don't fucking talk, women do: it's not the skirt she 'shouldn't have been wearing' or the low-cut top she was 'asking for it' in or the skinny jeans 'she couldn't possibly have had ripped off of her' they need to pay attention to: it's her mouth, which said 'no,' which is saying, 'listen,' which is speaking out as loud as it can over the noise made by stupid fucking people who find it easier to spin stories about inanimate objects than to listen to the stories told by actual human beings."
  • 'An Extremely Disturbing Precedent'  At the advocacy site Care2, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux declares the defense's argument flat wrong. "I find it horrifying that this needs to be said more than once, particularly in a court of law," she writes, "but anything can be removed without a victim's consent."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.