Holy shit, you guys, it’s finally spring. Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and every molecule of your pale, pale body is crying out to be caressed by warm air. And if you happen to be a woman, or any type of seemingly non-straight male cisgendered person, really, you can also expect the added bonus of that most seasonal of specials, street harassment. Oh boy!
Personally, I just can’t wait. The self-esteem boost I get when strange men comment on my looks, or better yet, just come right up and touch me, simply cannot be beat. What is a woman’s purpose in life if not to constantly offer up her body for judgment by whoever decides to claim it with his eyes? I am clearly not wearing these shorts or this tank top because I like looking at myself in them. Female agency? Don’t be ridiculous.
Why, just the other day, the temperature climbed into the seventies for the first time this year, and I broke out the short-shorts. Within the first two hours, I’d already been catcalled three times, which shows I am doing everything right. I am certainly not going to think twice about my desire to wear these shorts vs. my desire to be left alone before wearing them again. Not even for one second.
What’s that? You don’t like it when strangers say unsolicited things about your looks, then get mean quickly if you dare to talk back? I’m going to go ahead and say that that’s your problem. I mean, no one told you to leave the house unescorted by your husband/father, and it was your choice to wear that sundress. You should feel lucky that no one has raped you yet, you little tease. Women in other countries have their genitals mutilated, hence no one has any right to complain about sexism or misogyny who is not currently experiencing it in its worst possible form.
In all seriousness, street harassment is a real thing, but I probably don’t need to tell you that if you are a woman or a queer person. You know what else is real? Terrible articles telling people not to wear what we feel like wearing because we are too fat, or too slutty, or because we might get harassed on the street by people who have decided they don’t respect other people’s boundaries. There are also the people (like this guy) who pretend to be honoring the women who show skin in the springtime, but are actually making them feel gross and self-conscious. Don’t do that.
This is not to say you can never criticize someone’s fashion choices. This is a fashion blog, after all. But I think there’s a difference between saying someone’s top looks garish, or clashes with their bottoms, and saying their legs are too chubby/evil/assault-worthy to be sticking so far out of their clothing, no?
Then there are yet more people who make you feel bad for letting the catcalling terrorists win by covering up your goodies. (Really, I have talked to some of them.) These people also do not have a right to tell you what to do with your body. If I decide to cover up my cleavage because I don’t want to deal with the yelling on a particular day, I do not want to be made to feel like a surrender monkey. That’s my choice, too.
Basically, nobody but you has any right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with your body, and no one has a right to comment on it in a way that makes you feel unsafe or even just annoyed. (Not sure if a comment will make someone feel unsafe? Err on the side of fucking caution!) I’m not sure why this is so still so hard for some people to understand in this year of our lord 2013, and I hate to write an article that’s probably been written before, but I want you guys to remember that you’re still not alone, and you’re still not taking crazy pills if you think society’s treatment of female flesh is fucked from all sides.
And if you are passionate about this issue, here’s an organization working to end street harassment around the world. Get involved!