My Body is Not Yours to Touch

A Piece of Fabric and Some Skin Doesn’t Mean Consent

Men constantly sexualize women for their clothing. Graphic Anthony de Marte.

Being a woman isn’t easy. From societal expectations to work and school, life is constantly keeping us on our toes. 

No matter how hard we try, it never seems to change the fact that if a woman wears something revealing, she is either chasing attention, easy or has no self-respect. 

 In reality,  women don’t wear revealing clothes because we want a guy’s attention, or because they are looking to be catcalled. Personally, I do it to feel comfortable in my  body, to feel hot and powerful. Maybe I want to flaunt my gym progress, or this is simply my style. No matter the reasons, it doesn’t justify all forms of harassment I endure on a daily basis. 

Ever since I was a teenager, I started becoming more comfortable in my own skin.. Thanks to my genetics, I have always been curvier. I have since learned that, regardless if you’re 15 or 50, society will shame you for wearing something that remotely shows your skin. Back then, I couldn’t understand why people cared so much about what I wore. It’s just a tank top, who cares? 

Growing up, I understood this the hard way. . Society normalizes men fetishizing and lusting over women who follow a certain beauty standard, such as showing off more skin and may even have a certain body type. It’s perceived as normal for men to stare into your chest while walking down the street—as if you are asking for it. 

Not only is it disturbing, but it’s also highly disrespectful.  The fact that my tank top is low cut, or that I’m wearing shorts, doesn’t give you permission to ogle. It doesn’t allow you to whistle, stare or even try to talk to me while I’m walking. You certainly don’t get to get angry if I don’t pay any attention to you. 

I’m sick of people justifying men’s actions by saying “if you don’t want to be stared at, don’t wear low-cut tops.” I can’t change my genetics. You, though, can change your manners.   A person’s standard for modesty shouldn’t be enforced on others, especially people you simply walk by in the street. 

Clubbing, particularly, is very frustrating for me. I often feel uncomfortable simply because of the men around me and their lack of basic decency.  If you want to get my attention or want to speak to me, learn how to do so in a respectful way. Am I wearing a short dress in the club, while dancing to the music? Yes. Is that any of your business? No. The length of my dress and the amount of skin I show don’t give you permission to grab any part of my body.  I am tired of having to be accompanied home by one of my guy friends every night, just because I want to feel a sliver of safety. 

Statistics show that in the U.K., 97 per cent of women aged 18 to24 have been sexually harassed. Furthermore, 96 per cent of women are not reporting those situations because of the belief that it would not change anything. Not only that, but in 2019, the Independent released an article stating that 55 per cent of men believe that women who wear revealing clothing are more likely to get harassed. 

It’s a shame that in 2022, after decades of conversations about sexual harassment against women, men, and the LGBTQA+ community, we still have to deal with it on a daily basis. 

I think it is high time for society to let women dress however they want and educate men on how to deal with it.