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Sometimes We Do Ask For It
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
This column will probably piss some feminists off. But it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. You’ve probably seen that video circulating on Facebook about a woman walking in New York, with a hidden camera following her. She was catcalled 108 times in 10 hours. I watched a very, very small portion of the video, and one of the catcalls was “how are you doing today?” Another one was, “what’s up beautiful? Have a good day.” And there’s the always insulting, “how are you this morning?”
I understand what the people who made this video were trying to do, but I’d like to see them make the same video in Fort Wayne. Our streets are not busy. They might get the reaction they are looking for if they film during Three Rivers on the midway at Headwaters Park, or down by the beer tent, but they filmed it in Manhattan. Maybe some women get this attention, but not all women do. Trust me on this one.
And this is going to piss some women off, but admit it ladies: if we want attention, particularly male attention, we know what to wear. And we wear it.
Even back when I was younger and thinner, I didn’t get a whole lot of attention from men. Maybe it was my body language, shit, I don’t know. I’ve always leaned conservative on my attire. I aspire to the moneyed/yacht club/ preppie look, and I have my fair share of Ralph Lauren polos, which I combine with conservative shorts/slacks. I’m sure at times I look like I just got off work from Target, with red polos and khaki shorts. In high school, I wasn’t one of the preps, but I liked the preppy look.
But clothes have a huge impact on how we appear to others. Like it or not, it does. We’ve all seen a photo of a tough biker type cradling a little baby. Or something similar to it. But what we wear gives out a message. It can mean don’t screw with me, please screw me, I’m going to screw you financially, or mess with me and you’re screwed. In my retail job, I’ve been physically attacked by customers twice. In order to try and fend off the third attack, I showed up in goth makeup and attire. No one hit me that day. So I guess in order to protect myself, I should deck myself out in black makeup, wear chains, and wear black clothing to boot on a daily basis. This is not my regular style, but I think I should adopt it, thanks to recent events. My normal nerd girl retail wear is not cutting it, and if looking frightening will keep customers at bay, so be it.
But is it fair I have to do this? No. In a perfect world, we should be able to wear whatever we want and not have to worry. But we don’t. I had another disturbing incident happen a little over a year ago, and part of me wonders if it would have happened if I hadn’t been wearing a low-cut, tight-fitting t-shirt. It wasn’t my usual style, but I bought it anyway, and happened to wear it that day. I remember having misgivings when I put the shirt on. I should have paid attention to my gut feeling. I usually don’t get guys complimenting me on my breasts, because my shirts don’t call attention to them. But this particular shirt did. That’s why I should have picked another one that day. Maybe I wouldn’t have been hugged against my will by a total creep.
And that’s what pisses me off about women sometimes. They post selfie after selfie emphasizing cleavage, ass, legs, whatever, then complain they are getting creeped on by men they don’t know. Ladies, what do you expect? I mean really. Men are pigs to begin with, why hand them more ammunition? Some women are going to get attention no matter what. But to dress provocatively and post the pictures online, then wonder why you have thousands of people checking out your social media pages is like throwing gasoline on the fire. In a perfect world, we could wear what we want and all would be well. But it isn’t. You may claim you are “empowering” yourself by posting pictures of your physical assets, but you are actually saying, “I need attention. Please affirm me.”
A part of me feels sorry for men nowadays. If they do see a woman they would like to approach, and she’s dressed in a manner emphasizing her lady parts in such a way it’s impossible to ignore them, how does a guy play it? “Gee, I noticed you really have nice hair.” “I like your bracelet.” “Your eyelashes are amazing.” It’s going to sound awkward and phony, especially if the woman has 44 inch fun bags.
I’ll admit to playing the game too. On my first trip to Cedar Point this year, I wore a low-cut tank top that was slightly too big for me, and a pair of shorts. I noticed the male ride attendants seemed to want to help me more. The second time I went, I wore my notorious University of Cincinnati shirt (propped up with a push-up bra) I mentioned earlier in this column. Twice as many men talked to me than usual. Most of the time, I don’t exist, but that shirt suddenly makes me visible. It makes me sad that I’m not worth talking to unless my boobs are spotlighted. But every so often, if I’m feeling particularly invisible, I put on that shirt, and poof! Here I am.
So which is it? Do women bitch about catcalling but secretly enjoy it? Or are we tired of wearing non-revealing clothing, but are still getting attention on the street and hating it?
Incidentally, the woman hired to be in that viral catcalling video sued the makers of the video for $500,000, claiming that Hollaback, which hired her for the video, was sharing ”videos containing her ‘creative content, performance, image, likeness and persona for the purposes of advertising or trade without her prior written consent.’” I can’t believe the makers didn’t have her sign a release. But I also can’t believe a struggling actress is bitching about a video that went viral. You can’t BUY that kind of advertising. If it were me, I’d be making up business cards calling myself the “official viral catcalling video girl” and auditioning for everything in sight.
And I’d like to apologize to everyone I have ever said “hello” to while out on a walk. I did not intend to catcall. I was just trying to be … polite.
But on the rare occasions I do see an attractive man walk past, I’ll probably look at him, then look at the pavement and say nothing.
I wouldn’t want him to think I’m a pervert.