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Style : Safety

 

In case you haven’t read Better in Real Life’s post about violence against women, uh, go do that and then come back:

 

Ok, hi again.

 

So last week I wore what I thought was a relatively conservative outfit to work:

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On the way to the train, walking down my sleepy suburban main street, I got tailed by 2 20-something dudes in an SUV yelling things at me that I thankfully couldn’t hear. This is so uncommon blue that for a minute I thought I had dropped something before I realized what was going on.

 

Then when I was getting off the train in the city an older man with a glint of serial killer in his eye got all up in my face squeezing by (when there was plenty of room) and breathed, “hey sexy” at me so quietly I thought I was imagining things.

 

Later on, one of the crowd of random workers who hangs out on our office buildings steps attempted to say hello. It was actually polite, and he probably meant well, but by then I’d had it.

 

This day had me thinking in circles about women and objectification, and feeling threatened, and how white tights are apparently more sexual than black, and what exact level of dowdiness one must wear to be left alone. I thought about the models I see being gawked at openly, and sometimes approached and harassed. I thought about the women who aren’t so fortunate as to have things left at a gawk or even a grope. I thought a lot about how when we aren’t sartorially “asking for it,” we are still apparently deserving of it.

 

And mostly, I wondered how we can handle these situations in such a way that tells the perpetrator that their behavior is NOT okay, without potentially risking our safety in the process. Is this even possible?

2 Comments

  1. GAH.

    I am so mad that this happens. And that it happened to you.

    I like Miss Manner’s approach to this, which is to call it what it is: rude. Except usually I’m in so much shock that I can’t.

  2. Oh man. I think about this constantly. I basically dress like a nun, in part because I enjoy dressing the way I do and in part because I feel like if I leave the house exposing more than one extremity at a time, I’m in for it.

    Although, frankly, a lot of the time when I leave the house dressed like a nun, I still get it. I’ve also noticed that if I wear sunglasses, it gets a lot worse, though I’m not sure why. Maybe because they don’t have to look me in the eye and say it?

    For a long time, people told me it was cultural, and that I’m not used to it because I’m from the suburbs where no one talks to each other. And fine, some of the “hellos” and “How are you, dears” are probably totally harmless people just being friendly. But the rest of it? The detailed lists of what’s attractive on me? The going on about what they’d like to do with me? The constantly oggling and head turns? It’s not cultural, it’s unacceptable.

    Anyway, if you come up with a response that doesn’t risk our safety, I’d love to hear it.

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