I was musing on this after reading about this creepy dude who thinks it's totally cool to snap pics up a woman's dress on a bus and then post them online.
It was the "If she didn't want anyone looking she shouldn't have worn a skirt" comments that got me started. But what about women who don't wear skirts? Wasn't there endless fascination with Hillary's pantsuits?
I was once sitting at a bus stop on a Sunday morning. I was heading off to pick up the kid from a sleepover. I am not a morning person so I was doing my best soccer mom impersonation- yoga pants, a baggy sweatshirt, hair in pony tail and no make-up. For who knows what reason, this totally slutty get up made some old dude in a beater think I was a prostitute. I didn't realize that the MILF fetish had gone so far as to now include streetwalkers, but who knows?
So what can we wear that will let us be left alone? The head scarves and long skirts that the Muslim women in my neighborhood wear don't work. They still get harassed. The super modest dress of the FDLS women doesn't work. They still end up as someone's 3rd child bride/rape victim/ domestic slave. Women in Saudi Arabia who cover everything get chased by desperate men in cars.
Maybe, just maybe, what we wear doesn't matter. Maybe harassment of women has nothing to do with whether or not we invite it by our style of clothing. Maybe there is something else going on here, like perhaps the patriarchal ideal that all women in public spaces are public property.
We will know that we are safe when a woman could be the Naked Cowgirl of New York and not worry about being raped and when using the subway doesn't require nerves of steel and the willingness to have some dude rub his crotch on you. Until then, it doesn't matter what we wear. It's not about that.