I recently recalled an article by the Emirati columnist Ayesha Almazroui, in her article she spoke about harassment and I can very much relate to everything she wrote about, the instances where guys chase you in the car just to force you to take their number.
Growing up I was taught that a women must dress in a certain way to avoid harassment, otherwise she will be simply “asking for it” if she dresses otherwise, and I must admit that when I was younger I firmly believed that to be very true. However I came to meet many different people from a variety of races, religions and backgrounds and I can honestly say that you should never judge a book by it’s cover.
During my conversations with my friend in Australia (Hey Izzy!) she was telling me about how women go out in groups and make a pact to stick together all the way till they get back home, and in between our chat she was talking about how women shouldn’t be shamed for dressing a certain way and how men shouldn’t use that as an excuse to harass/abuse/rape them.
And our conversation really got me thinking about that, and a few days after I was going to a mall and parked my car at the far end of the parking lot and I was fixing my hair when a car passed right in front of my car and there was a man driving it, he looked 50+ and he was alone and apparently he was following my car and he had his window down and he drove past very slowly almost stopping completely as he stuck his head out of the window and stared at me in a dirty way as I was fixing my hair, I was so tempted to honk at him or scream as he passed by but I knew that might actually “encourage” him more. I ended up being so upset that I left the parking space and drove to another mall because it looked like he was attempting to take a second turn to come back and stare at me some more.
When that happened I wasn’t dressed “provocatively” nor was I “asking for it” as I purposely parked at the furthest end of the parking lot to have some privacy. This really struck something inside me, who defines the standard of “asking for it?” or “provocative” to some men it can be a skirt over the knees or a tank top, but to some other men it might be a glance from a women that he could use as an indication that she “wants it” but to others the mere instance of a women being in a certain place at a certain time of the day, or just by simply being outside of her house alone and/or with female friends means she’s “asking for it”!
Women in Kabul are harassed and raped and they are all dressed from head to toe in the unified blue traditional outfit, was her outfit a lighter shade of blue than her counterpart when she was harassed? And in some other countries just walking in the street after sunset can lead to harassment, rape or even murder.
Some argue that the way she dresses or the time/place a women is at is an indication that she’s asking to be harassed, no she isn’t, and no one should assume that unless she verbally states “Please harass/rape/murder me”!
And as Ayesha stated in her article:
We can either move on in our lives, pretending that harassers are just “being boys”, or we can face the reality and act firmly to change it.