Summertime, Sundresses and Street Harassment6/11/2012
I hadn’t even heard of ‘Sundress season’ until a few men on my twitter feed began to mention it ea...
I hadn’t even heard of ‘Sundress season’ until a few men on my twitter feed began to mention it each summer, around the beginning of June.
Sundress season usually means there’s a pretty good chance I will get unwanted advances and harassed walking down the street.
I seem to have inherited my mom’s beautiful curvaceous body, which often results in men breaking their necks to look at my backside. Then here comes the harassment:
It’s to the point where I have calculated, prepared responses to unwanted advances, because the wrong way of rejecting them turns into me either getting called out of my name or some other kind of put down. I have to be prepared to give these responses at any moment, because I am unsure of whether turning down a guy’s advances will turn into a name-calling session.
At times it gets so bad, I sometimes hate going to the store, or anywhere else I have to walk, by myself, and began to wish I wasn’t so curvy.
I love and hate sundress season all at the same time. I love being comfortable in the summer, wearing pretty dresses, and showing off my curves. I don’t like being harassed because I don’t respond to a man’s advances in the manner he wished I would.
I have heard men say ‘If you don’t want that kind of attention, don’t wear what you’re wearing.’ I’m not a fan of that logic. Since when does our choice of clothing give men the permission to harass a woman?
Women should be able to walk down the street, without the fear of being harassed, called out of our name. We shouldn’t have to act a certain way to avoid it. I shouldn’t have to wish my husband were with me to ward off men who want to try and talk to me. I shouldn’t have to consider my clothing just to walk down the street so I won’t be bothered. Unfortunately for women like me, we’d either have to wear baggy or similar clothing that hides our curves. That means, our self-esteem takes a hit, because instead of celebrating our God-given body, we’d be hiding in shame, wondering why we’re harassed by men.
I wish I could be naïve to say that it will be different when I have a daughter, that she won’t face the same issues with summertime and dread it a little bit because of those issues. I only want men to understand that the woman you are bitter with for rejecting your advances is someone’s sister, daughter, and mother.
I understand that men are visual, and are attracted to us physically first. I have no problem with that. I even have no problem with getting unwanted advances, even as annoying as it can be sometimes. My only issue is the harassment that follows the rejection of said advances.
‘Sundress season’ should be a season in which both men and women appreciate the beauty of summer. It should be a season that both sexes look forward to. Men have no idea how many times over a lifespan that women deal with unwanted advances, especially as a woman. They have no idea what it feels like to have a man undress you with their eyes. It’s downright uncomfortable. Black women just want to feel fully human, and not like a piece of meat. No black woman should have to fear walking past a group of black men in her sundress or other summer clothing during the summer months.
As a woman, I am hoping that men can appreciate our beauty without it turning nasty if a woman doesn’t respond the way he thinks she should.
A self-proclaimed city kid hailing from the midwest, Deidre Gadsden can usually be found either on her computer typing away or with a notebook and a pen in her hand when she's not at work. Deidre lives in Cleveland, OH with her husband. You can follow her random, never-a-dull-moment commentary on twitter @ScoutsHonor21 and check out her blog at missdei.wordpress.com.