Earlier on today I was trying to decide what to wear for University tomorrow as I’d have an early start and deciding beforehand would save time. I decided on a 60’s type dress with boots and then thought skin coloured tights would work best with it.
And that’s when I was filled with dread.
I realised I’d be coming home late at night and even though I’d be wearing a long coat, skin coloured tights seemed a bit too revealing to be walking around quiet streets. I then decided to scrap the whole idea and just wear jeans.
Then it struck me. Why does the idea of wearing a short skirt or tights that look like my bare legs fill me with such fear? Why do I always feel the need to cover myself up with a coat even if it’s summer outside? Why do I have to change the way I look because I’m afraid if I look a certain way I’ll be attacked? And even though I hate to admit it, why do I subconsciously feel that if I dress a certain way and something happens, dare I say it, it’s my fault? Now this is not something I like to admit, but my thought process inadvertently always ends up following the line of how can I LOOK to prevent myself from being attacked?
Obviously, there are things women and men should do to try and keep safe, but in terms of how I dress I find myself always resorting to jeans out of fear of what could happen. I’m terrified that if I dress a certain way I’ll be a walking target. But it shouldn’t be like that. It shouldn’t be how can I dress to prevent myself from being attacked, but what can we do to ensure potential rapists either don’t ever act on it, or what can we do to make the streets safer, or, worst case scenario, how can we guarantee that no one gets away with it if they do do something.
Within our society there are countless accounts of attackers being let free or pardoned or forgiven by those around them because they claim a girl was ‘asking for it’ by flirting, or drinking too much, or dressing in a certain way. And as women we actually believe it. Deep down, without realising, we think that way also. We fear that our actions may lead to us being raped. But it’s never our actions. It’s always their actions that commit the rape.
A clear loud yes should mean ‘yeah go for it, let’s have fun’ and if there’s any doubt it always means no.
I would love to say that I will make a stand and dress how I want because it’s my body and if I want to look and feel good I should be able to do so, but unfortunately we live in a twisted world that still has a long way to go. And this is my safety (and even life) so, for now at least, I’m choosing jeans.