As a woman, when I look at my wardrobe in the morning, I ask myself one question: do I want attention today? Next question: what kind of attention do I want?
If I choose the jeans, I will go undetected. Ripped jeans bring more chance of a cat call. But top drawer in the hierarchy of attention-grabbing clothes is the mini skirt.
If I’m feeling confident, I’ll wear it. I’ll moisturise my legs and hope I’m not too cold. I’ll leave the house and walk two minutes down the street. A van will drive past and my body will go tense, because I know what is about to happen.
“Nice legs, darling!” He will call out at me. It is always vans, big white vans.
Another day, I might take the tube to work. It is packed. My face will go red and burn hot when I feel the man behind me pushing himself against me, resting the back of his hand on my bare leg.
But I fear that one day it will go beyond cat calling, and being touched up on the tube. Out late at night and alone, I become very aware of what I am wearing. I shouldn’t have worn this, I think to myself, I’m just asking for the wrong kind of attention.
I wonder if a man has ever felt this way when he is picking out his clothes for the day? Of course, not all men are perpetrators, but they will never cringe every time they see a white van, for fear of being screamed at.
Here is a message for all the men who have yelled at me from behind their wheels. All of the men who have leered at me on a crowded tube: my miniskirt is NOT an invitation. It is not for you. It is for me.