I was walking to the shop, it was hot so I just wearing my dungaree dress and a crop top. On the way back I had to wait at a road for a while (curse you corner of Crookes and Crookesmoor) and I realised I was scared. I was wearing not many clothes and I was exposed, waiting to cross. A white van was waiting in the queue and the man in it was looking me up and down, in a way only feminine presenting people will know. At any moment he could shout something at me, that would make me feel defenceless, ashamed and embarrassed. I felt vulnerable. The traffic moved and I hurried into our house, just grateful that he had decided it wasn’t worth catcalling me.
This is something pretty much everyone who looks feminine, wears a short skirt with no tights, a cropped top, a low cut dress, will have experienced. The summer is one of the worst seasons to be a woman. Winter is pretty much fine, we’re all bundled up in layers of clothing (curse you British winter) and most of us are too cold/sad/thinking about a nice hot dinner to harass one another. (but of course women get harassed in winter because yay it’s always crap to be a women in public and quite often it doesn’t matter how much skin you show!!!) But summer, the moment my bare skin is on show, it like a beacon calling men to assault me in public.
I’m bloody sick of it. I feel really powerless when it happens and mostly I just ignore it, but that makes me feel crappy. I’ve got angry, swore and screamed, but then they just laugh at me because they’ve upset me and they think that’s funny. So what’s the solution? I have some ideas on how to respond, their pros and their pitfalls.
- “Alright chill out mate” – make him seem like he’s being hysterical and needs to calm down. Pro – a non-angry way to show how ridiculous he is being. Pitfall – they get aggressive at being told by a woman to chill out and i cry.
- Make a double chin and weird screeching noises. Pro – just straight up weird him out. Pitfall – Says something offensive and then I cry
- “OH FINALLY MY PRINCE HAS COME, LET US WED AT NOON” – pure sarcasm. Pro – top comedy reaction which highlights the ridiculousness. Pitfall – he doesn’t understand sarcasm, says something rude again and I cry.
- Laughter – make him feel small. Pro – easy to do. Pitfall – hes gets aggressive and I cry
Those are just the top three, my other ideas that I have dreamed up after being harassed and mentally reliving the situation for hours afterwards, but some also involved running after him and smashing his windscreen, drop-kicking him in the balls etc. but apparently you cant do that???
Why does it have to be our burden? Why do I have to feel afraid when I wear shorts and why do I have to call them out? Why can’t some men get it into their heads that shouting “NICE TITS” or “I’D FUCK YOU” at a woman in the street is not a cool thing to do? I’m tired of being angry at the world. Sort it out lads.
Power to everyone who is wearing less clothing because its hot and has been harassed. You do not have to react if you do not want to, it is not your job to reeducate assholes. Be safe. It’s fine to go home and change because you feel vulnerable, you are not being a bad feminist, you are protecting yourself. Try to be an ally if you see someone being catcalled or harassed. Maybe call the harasser out if you feel able or just ask the person if they are okay.
p.s. Also fat people can wear crop tops and shorts and get their fat bodies out on show and you don’t get to shame them because you can’t handle fat people being comfortable with their bodies. But that’s a whole another blog post.