A debate that arose on Thursday in response to an act of storytelling about sexual assault — the sort of storytelling that skips past dependence on the technology that presents it — made one thing clear: People are incapable of separating their ideas of "private" from "things I wish weren't public."
It began when BuzzFeed's Jessica Testa posted a story that in many other contexts and on many other topics would have been unremarkable, a series of quotes from people describing what happened to them. But the quotes were about rape, and the quotes were tweets.
Testa picked up a thread started by Twitter user @steenfox. Asking for feedback from women who'd been sexually assaulted, @steenfox's question was simple: "What were you wearing when you [were] assaulted?" She asked for permission to retweet the responses she got, which quickly and effectively made the point that rape and sexual assault are not functions of what women choose to wear.
One woman was six when she was assaulted, wearing "pink princess pajamas." Another was raped at knifepoint in her house while wearing a t-shirt and panties. Another, a blouse and fitted jeans at age 19. Another, a hooded sweatshirt and baggy jeans. Every sort of clothing, every age of woman, one result.