Sartorial Politics

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So I had a great time at my college’s dance, up until the part where I was surreptitiously hit on by two creepy men. I should note here that my outfit was a pair of jean shorts and a white button down shirt over a bikini top with Hawaiian print; this was in keeping with the tropical theme of the party, but unfortunately caused me quite a bit of strife by the time I decided to leave the party.

The first guy comes over to me and tells me he has a serious question to ask me. I tell him to go ahead, and he asks me if I’m straight. Wtf. I tell him the truth, “half,” at which point he kisses my hand and walks away to find someone else to dance with. That was pretty weird, but the second guy was truly creepy. He was very drunk, and he danced with me, which I didn’t mind, until he tried to unbutton my shirt. I made him stop dancing with me at that point, of course, and my friends left with me to make sure that he didn’t follow me back to my room, especially since he was following me around the dance floor and trying to get me to dance with him again, even though I was clearly doing everything in my power to get away from the creepy fuck.

I hate that it’s still culturally acceptable to look at a woman’s outfit and immediately interpret it as an invitation. I wasn’t dressed like that to attract a man’s attention; I was dressed like that simply because that’s what I felt like wearing. I hate that I can’t dress up and dance without someone interpreting it as an invitation to hit on me and/or be incredibly forward and creepy and touchy-feely. It’s just #MFIF, I guess.

IS, United States

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6 Responses to “Sartorial Politics”

  1. mallynne Says:

    It doesn’t matter how you’re dressed. That’s like saying if you wear a short skirt and then get raped that you were asking for it. The men who do these kinds of behaviors don’t actually care about how you’re dressed – but they sure love to use it as an excuse.

    • Enoon Says:

      It’s also a defense mechanism by the rest of society. If they blame the victim, they don’t need to admit that their community has predators in it or that they, themselves, might be at risk.

  2. Sarah Says:

    Following on from the previous comment, I’d just like to point out one thing about your post:

    “…my outfit was…but unfortunately caused me quite a bit of strife…”

    Your outfit was NOT the CAUSE of the strife. The cause of the strife was the creepy blokes in question, with their disgusting attitudes and ideas (and society’s willingness to view such behaviour as acceptable).

    It is perhaps a very sad sign of how deeply sexist attitudes and victim-blaming are ingrained in our society; that it even comes through in the way women choose to describe their bad experiences.

  3. Katie Says:

    Ugh, this drives me crazy! I haven’t worn a short skirt without tights underneath it to a party since the first time when some guy decided that was an invitation to reach underneath it repeatedly while we were dancing! At the time tights seemed like the solution but now I wonder why they’re necessary when it is clearly people like these men who have the issue!

  4. IS Says:

    As the author of this post, I’d like to thank everyone who’s taken the time to comment on it.

    mallyne, Enoon and Sarah, I honestly didn’t even realize just how I’d worded my post until after reading your comments, and it’s beyond disheartening for me to realize that these horribly sexist attitudes are so ingrained in my head that I can’t even describe my own horrid experience without blaming myself in some way, without even realizing it. I definitely agree that it’s the men in question who are at fault, not my chosen outfit; here’s hoping that the situation I went through never repeats itself, but if it does, hopefully I’ll be able to tell my story without unintentionally blaming myself.

    Katie, I am so sorry that you had to deal with that. 😦 I absolutely agree, it’s the men who have the issue, not us. I hope you haven’t had to deal with anything like that since then!

  5. BranchMonster Says:

    IS, wear whatever you want to. Dress to attract admiration and eyes. My friends and I will openly admire a woman’s style and physique in whatever she is wearing – the difference is, we make tasteful comments and keep in mind that the women might see or hear us having the discussion. Your clothing will be an invitation because it is public – but never an invitation to touch or disrespect you – even if you wear an ugly outfit 😉

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