‘Don’t dress like a whore’: Toronto mayor’s niece Krista Ford gives women safety advice on Twitter

Krista Ford from her Facebook pageToronto mayor Rob Ford is usually the one to get in trouble for putting his foot in his mouth.

This time, however, his niece is making headlines for tweeting controversial and misguided advice to women concerned about sexual assault:

"Don't dress like a whore."

This comes from a woman known for playing lingerie football.

The tweet was posted shortly after Toronto police's Wednesday evening news conference during which they warned women of a string of sexual assaults in the Bloor and Christie area of the city.

Ford, daughter of Coucillor Doug Ford, tweeted:

"Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don't dress like a whore. #DontBeAVictim #StreetSmart"

The tweet has since been deleted and according to the Toronto Star, Ms. Ford has apologized for writing it, saying "I didn’t mean to cause such an alarm and I apologize if I did. I just want women to be safe."

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CBC News notes that "her advice to 'carry mace' is also controversial, since mace is a prohibited and restricted weapon."

A comment like Ford's was the catalyst for the North America-wide SlutWalk. During a personal security conference at York University in January 2011, Constable Michael Sanguinetti said that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

He later apologized for the remark.

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SlutWalk Toronto responded to Ford's tweet:

"(Krista Ford's) tweet was victim-blaming and misguided," the organization tweeted. "That said, harassing, slut-shaming, name-calling, threatening her is not helpful."

SlutWalk expanded its response on Storify:

"Rates of sexual violence and what makes anyone 'at risk' parallel rates of social discrimination. At increased risk are: women of colour, disabled women, Indigenous women, trans women, and this is not an exhaustive list. We KNOW that sexual violence is not about the victim. That approximately 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 boys, and many others, are not deserving of abuse — that no one is deserving of sexual violence. Victim-blaming validates the actions of perpetrators of sexual violence by the inherent assumption that anyone can do, say, drink or wear something that makes them deserving of sexual victimization."

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University of Toronto's Ask First campaign also debunks sexual assault myths:

"Every woman has the right to wear what she wants, and to choose her sexual partner. The idea that someone 'asked for it' because of what she was wearing blames the victim instead of the perpetrator. You have to ask if someone wants to have sex."

While Ford's remarks were misguided and hurtful, so are the comments and threats being hurled in her direction. If we really believe that no one is deserving of violence, how do we justify online bullying?

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