I’d fully intended to blog in detail about the Liskula Cohen affair but after getting into a long debate about it on Twitter today, decided it wasn’t really worth it (also, I’m not an expert in defamation law and am sure to screw something up). The short of it is I think any pending defamation lawsuit on Cohen’s part is juvenile, perhaps even vexatious, particularly in light of the fact that she publicly forgave the blogger who called her names.
That said, an interesting discussion was born of the Twitter debate. Speaking from my gut, I made the comment that Cohen has little recourse to defend herself against being called a skank, considering the fact that she poses in sexually provocative positions, and partly nude (note: “skank” in my mind did not mean promiscuous, rather, I had thought it was more like “trashy”). While several people disagreed with me, and still others were offended, one person (a blogger whom I respect but often respectfully disagree with) asked the question: “Incidentally, why shouldn’t we infer a person’s morality from their dress and actions? Is there another way?”
My gut reaction was to say that a woman can wear what she want, which I do firmly believe. I also, for the record, believe that in rape or sexual harassment cases, it is never the fault of the woman, regardless of whether she’s nude or wearing a burqa (and in my experience, sexual harassment tends to happen no matter what you wear)
That said, I’ve become
in my old age a strong proponent of modesty. No extremes, but your average run-of-the-mill modesty. Part of it comes from living in Morocco (though again, the harassment there is intense whether you’re covered from head to toe or wearing a miniskirt), and part of it from sheer hatred of fashion. Either way, as a modestly dressed person by U.S. standards, I often find myself judging those who aren’t. On the other hand, I’m on the sloppy side. I prefer jeans and tees any day to tight pants and cleavage. I’m also aware that people judge me on my sloppiness.
I’m not arguing that women shouldn’t be able to dress however they want. I support a woman’s choice to wear a miniskirt in the same way I support her choice to wear hijab. But the point is, people will judge your character based on your clothing – and your behavior – no matter how you dress.
Therefore, given the abundance of photos of Liskula Cohen floating around the Internet that look like this…
…and the definition of “skank” (2. disgusting or vulgar matter; filth, and 3. one who is disgustingly foul or filthy and often considered sexually promiscuous)…
…I say a defamation lawsuit doesn’t stand a chance.