If you are a woman, then this post is one you will totally understand. Today, I want to talk about street harassment. According to the results of one study, 99% of female respondents said that they had been harassed in a public place at least once. I personally have been harassed many times.
Here are several of the instances to which I have been subjected. Last summer, I went to my local gym. Normally when I go alone I – to avoid harassment – go at the busiest time of day, about 6:00PM. But that day I went about 12:00PM. I was the only woman there. There were only three other people there, all of them men. I will note that I was not in hijab at that time of my life. I spent that hour of my life being followed around the gym, barked at, whistled at, called “hot”, cheered and jeered at. I was in terror – I suffer from PTSD among other things – and that hour has been seared into my mind.
Or how about even farther back in my life, when I was an over-developed and pretty eleven-year-old? I remember going to local restaurants with my mother and being stared down by, whistled at, leered at, and generally intimidated by young men. I spent my tween years wondering what clothes I could wear to avoid sexual harassment at McDonald’s! That is a feeling no girl should have.
Even recently, now that I am a faithful hijabi, I find that while the issue has diminished it has not gone away. I was leered at and called “hot” by a random old guy in a Wendy’s fast food joint. My husband was in the men’s room when it happened. When he came out and I told him what happened, he was shocked. We were both even more shocked when friends told me it was my fault either because I was wearing pants (that day I wasn’t) or because my headscarf draws too much attention.
Like I have said, dressing and behaving modestly has helped prevent it. But it doesn’t solve the real issue. The real issue is a culture that says how a woman dresses can justify how the man behaves! Each person should take responsibility for their own actions. I dress modestly for God, not for men. If I am wearing a miniskirt I am still a human being. I am still a soul. I still deserve respect. And if I am wearing the garments of my religion, whether you agree with it or not, I remain a human being, a dignified soul. I remain worthy of respect no matter how much of my body is or is not exposed. Those who say otherwise have bought into the poison that is rape culture.