The Red Dress
So... What about the dress!
Oh, the red dress. Often used as a symbol for the ultimate in confidence, in Far From The Heart Felicity feels transformed after putting it on – though she's not so sure. She wonders – Do I look like a slut?
Back it up, girlfriend. Red dresses have been featured many times in popular culture as an immediate provocateur of seduction, confidence, sex appeal, and power.
Red, the colour of roses and the colour of blood, symbolizes passion and a hint of mystery. Felicity is trying on her older friend's dress and trying on a new sense of self-confidence, which even serves as a catalyst to stand up to her controlling boyfriend.
But where did the perception of slut come into the picture?
When did wearing flattering clothing that made her feel confidant and mature make Felicity wonder if she looks slutty? Certainly, part of growing up in today's society is learning to wear clothes that are appropriate to the situation and individual – and in which you feel comfortable and fabulous.
In touring the live production of Far From The Heart, there never fails to be a lot of debate around what Felicity chooses to wear to the party – the red dress. Some people think it's hardly revealing at all, some people think it's far too mature for her age. Some people think that she is too dressed up for a high school party, some people think she could be even more dressed up. Some people think she's sending the wrong signals, some people think she looks great but isn't as confident as her dress suggests and that's why she was hesitant about wearing it. And, always, some people wonder whether she might not have been sexually assaulted if she was wearing something, anything, other than that scandalous dress!
In other words, a lot of people think a lot of different things about what Felicity was wearing. What matters is how Felicity felt. What matters when you pick out your clothes is how you feel – do you feel confident? Do you feel fabulous? Do you feel shy? Do you feel adventurous? Do you feel sparkly? Do you feel casual? Do you feel like trying something new? And most importantly, do you feel comfortable?
The reality is that research shows that most convicted rapists don't remember what their victim was wearing. In fact, a Federal Commission on Crime of Violence Study found that only 4.4% of all reported rapes involved provocative behavior on the part of the victim – in murder cases 22% involved such behavior (which could be as simple as a glance).
Research shows that what someone wears is not related to their chances of being sexually assault. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted – dresses are rarely more revealing than a swimsuit, and everyone can agree that going to a swimming pool or the beach is not an invitation for sexual assault. There is nothing which should be considered an invitation for sexual assault – slutty or not.