It’s midday, humid. Despite the weather battling every strand of my hair, I feel pretty good. I’m wearing the new skirt I made, it’s floral print (for spring? groundbreaking) – overall, I’m pretty adorable today. The kind of look that gathers multiple heart emoji comments on my Instagram feed. All was well with the world except for one thing… Normally I put on my headphones in an effort to be as anti-social as possible, but today I forgot them and so I face the world and all its noise.
“Hey miss! Hey girl – yeah you!”
I don’t respond.
“Why are you ignoring me? Am I ugly or something?”
I glance but continue not to respond.
“You’re so cute! Why won’t you talk to me?”
If you’re anything like me, I don’t deal well with these situations. I politely smiled but continued to walk without response.
“I like your skirt, you’re really pretty.”
I haven’t worn the skirt since.
To some (I reiterate, SOME) men I have encountered, catcalling is either considered a compliment or hilarious. I recall a situation some years back where I was going out for dinner with a male interest. As we were on our way to the restaurant, a car slowed beside us and a group of men started shouting some pretty inappropriate things at me. I expected my date to at least give me some sign of sympathy or remorse, but instead he felt it appropriate to laugh. Laugh a lot actually. I guess it’s pretty comical for a girl to feel like hiding in her Louboutin for the rest of her life (actually that doesn’t sound too bad but I digress).
Let’s get down to it; why isn’t catcalling considered a serious issue?
“They’re just trying to give you a compliment!”
Funny you should mention that word. A compliment is defined as “a polite expression of praise or admiration.” The Urban Dictionary of catcalling is defined as “making a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.” If you can’t tell the difference between admiration and sexual harassment, you also probably can’t tell the difference between “your” and “you’re.” God help us all.
Catcalling is not a compliment. It is an insult. An excuse to belittle and freely objectify a woman, while you victimize yourself because your “compliment” wasn’t accepted. It makes women feel cheap, trashy, scared, and embarrassed. The worst part? Apparently, the only way to avoid this is to avoid physical grooming, because obviously makeup, a bomb outfit, and walking with confidence screams “GIANT WHORE!”
But it’s not that serious right?
“Just try to laugh it off!”
Okay, different scenario. Say like the previous situation I was in, your partner decides to laugh instead of apologizing for the obnoxious idiots shouting at you. Not only is this not okay, in some situations it’s actually worse. You’re implying is that sexual harassment is a joke. You could say I’m reading too far into this, but it’s true. Societal acceptance of sexual harassment, verbal or physical, is one of the many reasons Donald Trump is president.
“Men get sexually harassed too!”
I don’t doubt that. It’s an issue that should be assessed alongside women’s sexual harassment. In any form, it’s vile.
You’re probably wondering how this relates to a fashion blog (596 words later). Usually, my opening scenarios are fabricated however, this one is true. Situations like these have literally ruined pieces of clothing for me. If there is one thing I know how to do in life, it’s dress myself. For someone to repress my personal style through harassment forces me to question why I even bother. It’s a depressing thought. I suppose I should feel lucky to have a pretty decent amount of self-confidence to say, “F*?! it”. Knowing that I should be able to wear things that embrace femininity without also bearing a chip on my shoulder. As my idol, Miss Von Teese firmly states, “It’s not about seducing men. It’s about embracing womanhood.”
So whether I choose to wear a head-to-toe latex outfit, a sundress, or a burlap sack, there is no invitation for commentary. It’s a women’s right to look how she pleases. It’s her right decide whether or not she wants to have children or to put her career ahead of her relationship. This issue boils down to more than what’s on the surface. Women lead the right to their own lives, and their own physical appearance.
Happy International Women’s Day (heart emoji)!