Okay, it's going to get really real really fast in this post, so here goes...
My biggest fear in life is getting raped. That along with being abducted or getting sold into human trafficking and the like. I read stories that literally bring me to tears and leave a pain in the pit of my stomach, and the thought of anything like that happening to me scares me so much that I find myself making choices that will help me blend in rather than stand out.
A lot of people may call me a plain Jane when it comes to my wardrobe, but most times, that's something I do on purpose. I've found that a lot of my wardrobe choices are based on helping me blend in and not bring too much attention to myself. Yes, I want to feel beautiful, but at the same time, I want to feel safe. While some people may find this a little extreme, it's completely normal for me.
I'm going to try say this in a way that doesn't make me sound vain, but there have been instances where a simple black v-neck and a pair of colored skinny jeans have caused men to wink at me or say inappropriate things to me. When I stepped out of the car in New Orleans, after a 5-hour drive in my PJs, a man stuck his arm and head out the window and said "hey, baby" to me, and I practically ran away. I've never been one to show cleavage and my wardrobe is pretty conservative, but that doesn't seem to matter.
Just the other day, I wore this outfit to work:
Had my sassy boots on today #workflow 👗👢 pic.twitter.com/q0iwlRJC5n
— Tiffany Khyla (@tiffanykhyla) March 5, 2015
A man was walking past me in the hall, and he paused in his steps, looked me up and down and made an "mmm" noise. Mind you, the skirt of my dress is loose, accentuating nothing, and my chest area was completely covered with my blazer and scarf. In no way, did I think this outfit was sexy, but this man thought it was okay to make a noise at me like I was a piece of juicy steak that was just presented to him on a silver platter.
When did it become okay for men to make noises at women as if they were food, as if women are simply pieces of meat put on this earth for their enjoyment?
It's instances like this that make me want to be plain, wear less make-up, let my hair stay frizzy, and wear nothing but loose clothing. All because of the fear that I carry around with me.
Sometimes, even going out with friends is a task. People assume that because I'm out dancing with my girls and I don't have a guy in tow, I'm looking to talk to them. I'll be dancing with my group of friends and guys will come up behind me and start grinding with me. It makes me uncomfortable, and when I push them away, I get called a b-word, when I didn't even insinuate that I had any interest in them in the first place.
The fact that I can't walk down the street at night or even to my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot without being afraid is a problem.
It's not fair that I should have to go out of my way to try to avoid situations that shouldn't even be dangerous in the first place. Cat calls, winks, inappropriate noises, etc. make women feel degraded, and it's not fair for us to have to be wary of our non-sexual actions because of the fear of a man noticing us and the potential for that to lead to something horrific. A simple "How are you doing today?" is fine until you answer them and they start following you in a deserted parking lot at night while you're alone. It's scary, and I know that I would never be able to protect myself in those situations. I've read comments on articles about this subject, and I've seen people say things like those things aren't considered harassment or there are some people that would welcome the compliments, but when I feel like my life is in danger, there's no reason for me to say "thank you" to anybody or try to make someone believe that I'm even remotely interested because who knows what that could lead to?
I'm going to end with these two things:
1// A photographer named Allaire Bartel created a series called "Boundaries" that shows women going through their daily motions and experiencing sexual harassment. It focuses on sexual aggression and male entitlement and how women become almost blind to the fact that it's happening because it's so prevelant in today's society. The message of the series is so powerful, and you can view the photos and more information about them by clicking here.
2// This video that you may have seen that perfectly embodies the message I'm trying to convey in this post. Going through some of the comments really sickened me, both from the people telling their own stories of sexual harassment and also the people who don't understand how it's considered harassment.
Have you ever experienced things like this? What are your thoughts on the subject?