Coming back to Amsterdam in winter comes with 4 layers of clothing extra. We’re talking the Michelin Man; a scarf, ear muffs and gloves. Other than in Hong Kong, my transportation of choice is a bike. A man yells at me from his bike “Hey sexy. Where are you going?” He stops, turns around and tries to follow me. Let me repeat that. He stopped his journey to wherever he has to go, in the cold drizzly weather, to follow a girl on a bike he does not know. – And you wonder why I don’t trust people. Especially when complete strangers have been following me more than once, and a lot first reactions were ‘But what were you wearing?’
First of all; I was wearing my old Jimmy Choo’s, black leggings with leather pannels, a knee length trenchcoat and a HUGE white scarf. I was on my way to school. I wasn’t asking for ‘it’. I just want to wear things I feel comfortable in. I should not feel guilty for wanting to wear what I like to wear, because some ass can’t control himself. Thank God most of my friends are quite progressive and share this view.
Second; 1 in 2 women and 3 in 10 men in the Netherlands have experienced undesired sexual soliciting. When you question my appearance as part of who is to blame, I will stop trusting you. Which also means, chances are big someone else in your close surroundings will stop trusting you.
Us, women, don’t need to be empowered to be strong. I, like many of my peers, come from a generation where my parents tried to give me any opportunity possible and told me I could be anything I wanted to be. We are strong. Even when society won’t let us. We need to be empowered to change the views on women in this society. And we all have different responsibilities. Our reality in the western world is to maintain and make equal our opportunities to our male peers. So we can make sure others in other less fortunate societies can do the same.
We are lucky our starting point is not as bad as other places in the world. But never listen to someone who says “Don’t complain, it’s worse in central Africa and the Middle East.” This is literally a tactic used by abusers. Translated it means “I can treat you worse if I wanted to, so be lucky I won’t.” We shouldn’t take catcalling as a better alternative than something worse. Because they are scarier, taller, stronger.
Stop it, you are harassing me.
“You look good enough to taste.”
“Can I come home with you?”
“I bet you look good naked!”
“Hey! Fuck Me-eyes! I want to fuck your ass.”
“Hey you, hot stuff! Where do you work? Can I give you a ride to work? What time do you get off? GET IN MY CAR!”Five illustrations of ‘But what I was wearing’ of five occasions of catcalling. Liquid eyeliner on watercolor paper (December, 2014)