Real talk here, I want to know when it became a crime to be a woman who is unafraid of expressing her femininity?
As a proud female I encounter sexism essentially every day and it SHOCKS me that many of the chauvinistic displays I am harassed with are still acceptable social norms in the twenty-first century. Sure you can say such behaviors are looked down upon, but then why do people turn a blind eye to the men cat-calling women as they pass them on the street or making obscene propositions toward a girl who is sitting next to them on a crowded train. Recently, really since summer arrived and I’ve dug out my sundresses and skirts I’ve noticed a gross trend in how men treat me when I am dressed in traditionally feminine clothes verses more masculine attire. That is that quite a large number of men are under the impression that it is perfectly acceptable behavior to objectify a woman who is outwardly displaying her femininity.
Happening number one: I got stalked on my way to the grocery store this Monday. Do I live in a bad part of town? No. Have I walked there before? Yes many times. Was I dressed like a prostitute on my way there? No. However! I WAS wearing a skirt that day. Now you may say, “but Tricia you should have known better than to invite unwanted attention by wearing such revealing clothing.” No, thanks to Catholic school I’m pretty strict about my skirts hitting just above the knee not to mention the blouse I’d paired it with didn’t even reveal any cleavage. Now, perhaps you’re thinking, “Eh, the guy didn’t really hurt anyone.” True enough, I wasn’t physically hurt in that situation. When I got to the grocery store and asked the man if he needed some sort of assistance he mumbled some sort of garbly-gook and skulked off (probably to follow some other unsuspecting victim). The issue at hand is not that I was not physically hurt, but that I was mentally unsettled by the experience. The man following me could have been the sweetest mother fucker in the whole damn world, but he could also have been a serial killing rapist – the point is there would be no way for me to know that without confronting him. Ah so now you might say, yes you did confront him and he then left you alone. Good job paying attention, yes I was able to safely confront him – after making my way to a public place which I knew had security that I could look to for assistance if the man became violent. And therein lies the reason for my discomfort at this man’s advances, the element of uncertainty which I felt while walking to a potential safe spot combined with the uncertainty at how the man would react when called out was extremely unnerving. All because I decided to wear a skirt that day.
So why is it that when wearing more masculine attire (jeans/leggings) I am generally left unmolested, but when I switch to more feminine clothing (skirts/ dresses) the rate of me being harassed is drastically increased? Based on how society is currently handling sexual harassment, the reason for this is seems pretty clear. Men are under no obligation to demonstrate any sort of self-control when it comes to their advances toward women. An abrupt shift in a man’s personality from all around great guy to complete scumbag is obviously due to the woman’s promiscuous advances and not a deeper seated problem within himself. Or does that sound off to you? Do you think that maybe, just maybe if a man decides that skulking around like a fucking creep and stalking a woman who is minding her own damn business is alright that he should have to take some god damn responsibility for his actions.
How about another story then, happening number two: A friend of mine who exclusively wears feminine clothing was groped and propositioned by her cab driver while on her way home the other night. Report the incident you say? Why yes she did. And here are how few shits the cab company could give for how its employees act toward their customers. First off, when reporting the SEXUAL HARASSMENT she had to label it as discourteous customer service. There was not even a fucking option to register sexual harassment under it’s proper name. Why does this matter? It means that if the cabby in question was fired over too many complaints then those complains would not be on record as a sexual harassment – they would be on record as “discourteous customer service” which is a belittlement of what actually happened. Oh, and second – the cab company closed her report before even looking into it because she was willing to be called in for questioning, but did not want to go through the stress of attending a hearing. Why did she not want to go in for a hearing? Because due to the lack of rape she was afraid the claim would be seen as inconsequential. Additionally, she did not want to have to deal with the victim blaming questions of the police concerning what she was wearing (if it wasn’t a sweat suit she had no case to complain as she was clearly asking for it), if she had been drinking (we women are notoriously sexual drunks), and why she was out so late (without a chaperone to protect her womanly virtue what was she thinking!?!?!?!). Now, perhaps you will say, “eh if she wasn’t willing to use the procedures we’ve set in place to take care of these issues it’s her own fault.” Fine, but maybe you missed it when I said SHE. WAS. AFRAID. TO. CONTACT. POLICE. BECAUSE. OF. VICTIM. SHAMING. Oh victim shaming, something society vehemently defends is not a thing, well let me make something perfectly clear. If it were truly wiped out, if victim shaming truly was no longer part of our due process then my friend would not have been afraid to attend her hearing. Near the end of our conversation this is what she said to me, “Ugh, its ok, im glad nothing worse happened although it’s kind sad that I can even view it that way.” YOU DON’T FUCKING SAY? Yes it’s absolutely disgusting that as women we can be THANKFUL that we were ONLY MOLESTED and not FULL ON RAPED. Seriously sickening.
So who was at fault in her story? The cab driver who decided to take what he wanted from the woman he was supposed to be providing a clean and safe service to? Or my friend for being driven home late and wearing feminine, work appropriate clothing? I feel like the answer to that question should be obvious, but from the way this and many other situations just like it are handled every day I’m not sure the answer is as obvious as it might seem.
Let it be known that I am not saying all men are disgusting scumbags who need to learn how to treat others with even an iota of respect. However, I think it’s deplorable that society is placing the blame of men’s objectification of women onto the females whom they have forced their attentions. Men are you honestly so starved for femininity that as soon as you see a woman in feminine attire she becomes a sexual object in your eyes? And as I previously said, the last I checked women were supposed to have the same rights as men – to live their lives the way they want… be that in skirts OR pants. So why the fuck am I worried about how I’ll be treated if I leave the house wearing a skirt?