Another Tuesday. Another Second Cup latte. 🙂
I actually have the day off from downtown. So my partner cooked breakfast. 🙂 I had a doctor’s appt. :(. I knew I had a lot of time between here and having to go to the mall for my baby shift tonight I decided to take my laptop and write a blog and perhaps do some work while enjoying an awesome latte, which I redeemed with my points. So… ya know… :D!
I feel as though I should warn you. This entry has been heavy on my heart for a while. It still steams me, which is why I thought I wanted to share this particular experience with my readers. Curse words and love of metal to follow.
Have you ever regretted an outfit choice once you began to work? I sure have.
There is this cute dress I have that is white with black geometric symbols that I have had for a couple of years (it was one of my first proud purchases at my old job). It hits just above the knee and is a cute tank style with a hi-lo skirt that flares out. Super cute right? However, whether it’s my dryer or my weight gain to blame, it seems to have gotten shorter.
I put it on and didn’t give it a second thought as I paired it with cute shoes and a longer cardigan. I popped on a pair or shorts under the dress just for good measure and began my day.
I got through the first nine hours of my day unscathed. However, I did notice when I had to reach for something the dress would rise with me. I thought, “Oh shit…. oh well. No harm done. My butt is still hidden. All good.”
When I went to my second job that evening (Please, keep in mind, this was hour 11/13 that day) I was picking up paper that fell out of shoe boxes and a customer, a middle aged-early retirement aged woman, came up to me.
She said to me (and I paraphrase), “Honey, take this from someone who has four daughters, your dress is too short.”
I said with sarcasm, “Oh, thank you so much for letting me know.”
She said, “Now don’t get mad at me. There are men that can see everything when you bend over. My husband was at the end of the aisle and he could see everything.”
I said, again with disdain, “Oh I’m so sorry for that.”
She said, “Just be happy that I’m telling this to you and not complaining to your manager. I’m just saying this to protect you.”
This is when she walked away and left me jaw-dropped.
I didn’t write about this particular situation before because, well, I am still fucking mad about it! I needed to simmer down before I approached it in a rational way. And everyone wonders why Beezleboss by Tenacious D is my anthem.
And quite fitting, since then, the devil’s advocate in me really has looked at this situation in many different lights.
I’m not bitter that it happened. I knew the dress was short, this lady called me out on it. It was more so in the beginning a “Thanks, I already know… ya gonna buy me a new outfit? No?… didn’t think so!” I had to wear what I was wearing. But as I kept thinking about it, what still burns me is how she brought her husband into the conversations.
I still think, why was my short dress the problem? The real problem, in my opinion, is that this woman’s husband was looking, or that she was worried that her husband was looking.
Firstly, he couldn’t see everything. The cardigan was well long enough that he only saw my shorts.
Secondly, if he did see anything I hope he liked it. He wouldn’t be seeing something this nice when he gets home! Haha.
And thirdly, and most importantly, a woman should be able to wear what they want without worrying about the thoughts of the men around her. And a woman should be assured that if her husband did get a quick peek he didn’t think anything of it.
It turned, to me, from a call out on dress code to a question on sexism and on my own self-image. Instead of telling me my dress is too short, tell your husband to stop staring! If it had not been in a work environment, say if that happened on the street waiting for the bus, he would still have looked. If he even did look… *eye roll.*
Was I in the wrong by wearing this dress? Yes. Did I react in the correct manner? Yes! Haha… no… absolutely not. I could have handled this in a much better way.
Was this customer in the wrong? Thinking about it, no. She was right to say the dress was too short. It was. I agree with that. Now when I wear that dress I generally wear leggings with it and treat it as a tunic of sorts. It’s too cute to keep in the closet!
Perhaps her argument was a bit dated. She cautioned that she was saying it because men would be looking. Her warning had arisen something that many women fear. In our society, we see cases regarding sexual assault and rape every day, and many of them happen closer to home than we would like to think about. The myth is “cover up and you won’t be a target.” When the reality, people assault and do things for many different reasons. Does seeing a woman in a shorter dress magically spark something in a man to attack a woman? I don’t think so. There is something underlying that that man has kept hidden and it becomes unleashed in different circumstances.
As women, we can’t let this thought be the reason to for lack of a better term, “cover up!” At work, I wouldn’t want to see anyone’s underparts and I understand that no one else wants to see mine. Simple as that. As people, instead of nurturing the idea that women should cover up or act a certain way to deter abuse, we would be better to nurture the concept that assaulting ANYONE! is wrong. That’s what I would want those around me to believe and a concept that I would share with everyone.
Assault, rape, abuse. These things are scary. And these happen more than anyone would like to admit. But they don’t just happen because of what a person is wearing. It happens because the person doing the assaulting has a particular mindset that entices the actions. Whether it’s a guy sexually assaulting a girl outside a nightclub downtown, a taxi driver taking advantage of a drunk girl in his cab (sadly, two instances that has happened here in the past year; the tip of the iceberg), or anyone in a certain demographic that is assaulted for any reason, it’s not your fault. It’s never your fault. They see something in a person that they can prey on, a “weakness” in their eyes, that they hone in on.
I am lucky. In my adulthood I have came out pretty unscathed when it comes to this topic. In my childhood, I was a target of bullying because of my weakness to stand up for myself. When they saw that I could, they backed off. As an adult I try my best to keep myself safe. Staying around friends and family, letting someone know where I am at all times, even keeping someone on the phone when I’m alone. But I know people who have dealt with assault, rape, abuse. I can never know what they experienced, nor would I want to. But I know, they didn’t ask for it nor did they want it. And they certainly didn’t have this happen to them because of what they wore. And if they did, it was an issue the abuser had, not them.
I’m going to leave you with Lady GaGa’s “Till It Happens To You.” I warn you this video can be rough to watch.
I don’t know how it feels. But if we teach each other that abuse is wrong, assault is wrong, RAPE is wrong, perhaps someday, in the distant future, we can wipe it from our society.
There’s that dumb optimism again. Haha. But you never know. It starts with raising our voices, getting heard, and changing minds.
Well, that’s all from me. Time to bid adieu.
Cheers and Stay Smiling!