Apparently one out of three Australian women are afraid to walk down the street alone, especially after dark. We don’t live in a country where intimidation, degradation, or violence against women is acceptable — so what the hell is going on? What kind of society are we living in where women are still accosted and sexually harassed for their clothing choices?
A short skirt and/or a low cut top is NOT an invitation to sexual harass or rape. We do not owe anyone anything by wearing what makes us feel good or comfortable. No one owns us, and has no right to tell us what to wear.
It’s time to educate both men and women about this issue. It’s time to stop bullying each other into acting or wearing what most think of as “socially acceptable.” Here are a few points that you could consider to empower yourself, or share with others that this issue affects:
Stop accepting the attitude someone is “asking for it”
Both men and women need to get out of the frame of mind that a certain type of clothing or image equals a certain level of promiscuity, or openness to sexual banter/content. Stop accepting the attitude that if someone wears a certain type of clothing that they are sexually promiscuous.
If you do have a prominent sexual lifestyle then that is great! No one has the right to tell you that what you do with your body is either right or wrong. You will know what is right and wrong for you by how you feel about a situation — using your own internal judgement.
Society is slowly opening its mind to the possibility that people are able to individually express themselves through fashion, and it does not reflect the type of social standing/political/sexual lifestyle choices it may have typically reflected say, 50 years ago.
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Support each other, and stand up for each other
Speak up when someone close to you makes a derogatory comment about a woman’s clothing, or makes judgements about her sexual lifestyle. We need to let people know that their attitudes are unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. You won’t let their stupid, mindless, frustrated comments bother you because you are your own person, and were not placed here to be what other people think you should be.
Practice feeling powerful
It doesn’t come to all people naturally. Some seem to be born without a care in the world, some of us stress over every little bit of dust and dirt. Either way, it’s a good idea to practice mindful confidence in regards to your style and sexuality. For you, the two may not be linked, but it is very important to let people know, with respect, how you want to be treated. Take responsibility for your confidence even if sometimes you gotta “fake it ’till you make it,” to a degree.
Don’t be afraid to say “no” or “fuck off!”
Or the more refrained “Stop, you are making me uncomfortable.” Many women feel like they have to be nice and compensate for other people all the time otherwise, they will be labelled as (god forbid) a “bitch.” You may not feel like you have enough confidence or the skills to defend yourselves from comments, but as long as you have a voice, remember that you have a choice to express yourself if you want.
Obviously this isn’t a blanket solution — unfortunately not all women are physically, mentally, or socially able to practice all these behaviors. But, for those of us who are able, we can make a difference for ourselves and for the others who can’t. We can inevitably teach the next generation of women and men, through role modeling, to stop this harassment and abuse.
Be free! Wear what you want, do what you want with your body, do whom you want with your body, just make sure you are respectful, in charge of yourself, and let people know that it is not okay to judge anyone’s sexuality or make assumptions at the deservedness of punishment based on what someone is wearing.
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