Lately, I have been getting really pissed off, frustrated, and mostly scared by the fact that we, women, seem to have to take responsibility for our government and our justice system’s failures to protect our basic rights and for men’s inability to be decent human beings.
At first, it was about verbal and physical violence, verbal and sexual harassment, and rape: depending on what we are choosing to wear, we are running the risk of being told that we are asking for it! Indeed, men’s inability to control their primal instincts, to understand that we are not theirs to use and control, and probably more than anything, our state’s inability to ensure that we are protected and that whoever commits a crime against us is being pursued, arrested and punished, has made it our responsibility to adapt and compensate. So every morning, when I get dressed, I think about my entire day and about where I am going to be and at what time. And if it turns out that I will have to take public transportation later than 9-10 pm or simply walk downtown at night, I will leave that skirt aside and pick something that will not draw too much attention to me so that I can more easily blend in and not have to deal with unwanted looks, comments, or even moans and groans. Now, let me simply say that it is not a minor task to try to anticipate on what some stranger’s opinion of my clothing will be but since it seems it has become my responsibility to make sure no one will think I am asking to get raped, I will do my best.
And every time I see some young girls wearing shorts and tank tops in the subway, I am actually scared that some will look at it as an invitation. So sometimes, when I see someone staring at their bodies, I stare back until they realize how inappropriate their behavior is and start looking the other way. It does not always work.
But over the summer, I also started getting scared for Muslim women: because some cannot understand the difference between a scarf and a terrorist, and because once again, our governments are unable to make sure that racism and discrimination are penalized as they should be, it falls back on women’s shoulders to change their behavior, to forget about their basic rights, to sacrifice their freedom, and to compensate once again for others’ failings and inadequacies.
Are we getting closer to the day when women will be invited to stay indoors on New Year’s Eve to make sure that they are not going be the catalyst for mass sexual assaults?
Are we going to be told that we are no longer allowed to show skin because it is simply much easier to rob us of our freedom than to ensure that others treat us with respect?
I am growing sick and tired of all of this and I do want to claim a right to my freedom to dress as I please, to go wherever I wish to go whenever I wish to do so without feeling that I am putting my wellbeing or my life at risk; and I believe it is time for the justice system to do its work instead of leaving me to be the strategy.