Anyone who knows me knows that I love to wear dresses and skirts. Poufy ones, skinny ones, every color of the rainbow – and, in general, the shorter the better. Now, before anyone makes any sort of “oh, you must wear short skirts because you WANT attention” remarks, I would like to make it EXTREMELY clear that this is not the case. I wear skirts because I love my body, and in particular I love my legs. I love the feel of having sunshine on my bare skin, and I love how skirts look on me. I feel good when I wear a skirt – much better and much more confident than when I’m wearing a pair of pants. They are so much more flattering on my body and so much easier to move in than a pair of jeans. At least, that’s my opinion. I really could care less about what other people think of my appearance.
That being said, I cannot express how utterly sick and tired I am of getting catcalled and harassed by men on the street who seem to think that it’s their right to make obscene comments on my appearance, the way I walk, and what they would like to do to me. What, do they expect me to lie down and spread my legs in the air for them because I chose to wear something that makes me feel good? No thanks – I actually have self-respect. While I understand and have no problem with the fact that many women wear short skirts in order to attract attention, a short skirt is not and should not be considered an indicator of a woman’s sexual proclivities. Note that most men who catcall say only what they would like to do TO a woman – not what they would like to do WITH her. As if women are objects to be used at will. Just because I am wearing a particular article of clothing does not mean that I am an object to be fucked, no matter how much “easy access” a skirt provides or what the behavior of other women has been in the past. Nor does it mean that I am a brainless ditz – in fact, I am a pre-law student who is double majoring while working between 6 and 20 hours per week on top of that. Even if I was unintelligent, that still wouldn’t give anyone the right to make assumptions about me based on my appearance. Yes, in many cases the only judgment we are able to make about other people is based on their appearance, but that doesn’t make it right. Just because societal stereotypes dictate that a woman in a skirt is fair game for any man doesn’t mean it’s true.
To those people who would argue that since I know what kind of attention I will receive while wearing a skirt, I should either stop wearing skirts or stop complaining, I say screw you. Screw you for denying me my agency in choosing what to wear. Screw you for telling me that I deserve what I get for wearing something that makes me feel good. Screw you for participating in exactly the same type of victim-blaming mentality that leads to rape victims being blamed for their rapes. Because that’s what this really is – saying that a woman shouldn’t complain about men harassing her on the street if they find her to be attractive is only one step away from saying that a woman shouldn’t complain about being raped if her rapist found whatever she was wearing to be “provocative.” The most pathetic thing about people who make this type of statement is that they tend to be women, at least in my experience. How ironic that women are perpetuating the very stereotypes bandied about by the patriarchy, stereotypes created specifically to keep women “in their place” and remove all the blame from men.
Speaking of responsibility, whatever happened to men acknowledging their part in creating problems like this? Unless we accept the (obviously incorrect) premise that men have absolutely no control over their own behavior, we must admit that there is no good reason why men would feel the need to sexually harass women on the street. However, I have yet to hear a man tell another man that he is wrong for making inappropriate, sexually explicit remarks to a complete stranger. Why is this, I wonder? I know that there are many men who would never think to harass a woman on the street, but why is it that these men never speak up when they see other men doing so? True, it’s not their job to police other men’s behavior, but it seems a bit hypocritical to me when men tell women that they think catcalls are inappropriate and vulgar, but don’t do anything about it. I’m not saying that I can’t defend myself against these types of remarks, but that I feel like I shouldn’t have to since they shouldn’t occur in the first place. Just because a man finds a woman attractive does not give him the right to make her feel uncomfortable in a public setting that she has every right to be in, and if other men supposedly think that this is inappropriate too then they should actually do something about it.
I will continue wearing skirts of every shape and size whenever I please, even though I know that I will have to deal with men whistling, catcalling, making lewd remarks, and even following me down the street in their cars. I am not afraid of these men and I will be damned before I allow a bunch of adolescent minded idiots to prevent me from dressing any way I please. I just wish that we lived in a society that valued women for their intellect and accomplishments rather than one which bases a woman’s worth solely on her appearance.