Lolitas and Street Harassment

The other day I came across a feminist blog on Wordpress and one particular entry really stood out to me. In fact, I read it several times in order to determine if this could easily apply to what many Lolitas face on a daily basis when they go out in public with their frilly clothing. 

The title of this blog entry is (wait for it.....) "I like the way your tits bounce" and it features several instances of the author's experiences with being catcalled on the street by men, among other things. As women, unless we're wearing a parka or a giant plastic bubble around our bodies chances are high that we're going to face some street harassment. And I think those chances are doubled considering what WE wear out in public, sadly.

How many times has someone made a rude comment to you about your clothing or body while out in public? I imagine all of you will say this has happened at least once. I know it's happened before to me. Oh I know we all get our fair share of compliments too, but harassment is almost guaranteed and not just because we're women, but because we're women wearing a rather peculiar fashion.

According to this blog "Experiencing harassment on almost a day-to-day basis isn’t simply annoying: it’s a reminder that your clothes, your face, your body,you are constantly on display, and up for critique by any slack-jawed gawker who can force a loud enough utterance out of his mouth. As our own aliasmitch pointed out in his post Slut Shaming and Street Harassment, street harassment is “fundamentally built upon the idea that women’s bodies are public property”, and may therefore be commented upon, looked at, or touched. On an individual level, these actions are disrespectful and dehumanizing, but they also serve a much bigger purpose: keeping women out of public places."

When we walk down the street in our Lolita finery, we walk with the anticipation of someone yelling something at us. We cross the street early to avoid groups of males or construction sites. Most of us also make sure to avoid groups of teenagers, as they can be especially harsh in their judgments. How many of us refuse to walk alone in Lolita? Get a cup of coffee in Lolita? Visit the library in Lolita?

And with any kind of verbal harassment comes the fear of physical assault. I haven't read too many stories of Lolitas being physically assaulted or attacked but I know that is DOES happen. So what are we to do?  We can ignore it, playing the passive victim and hoping it'll go away or we can speak up and yell back at our harassers - both tactics which do very little to actually put a stop to verbal attacks.

Don't despair though, there is a proactive way to handle street harassment. Here are some smart and reliable intervention skills meant to diffuse the situation in a non-violent but assertive way, courtesy of Marty Langelan, an expert on harassment and harassment intervention:

The All-Purpose Statement: When someone feels the need to comment on your appearance, simply look them in the eye and in a calm, matter-of-fact voice, say “stop harassing women. I don’t like it- no one likes it. Show some respect.” This simple statement is surprisingly effective- most harassers will back off, some will even- dare I say it- apologize! If he gets defensive, simply repeat yourself. He wouldn’t be defensive if he didn’t think what he said was stupid in the first place.

The A-B-C Technique: “When you do A (the behavior you don’t want), the effect is B (how you feel), and I want C (the specific replacement behavior) from now on.” Be calm and concrete- it’s very difficult to ignore shitty behavior when it’s blatantly called out.

The Socratic Question: Face your harasser, and ask him why he just did a specific behavior. For example: “That’s so interesting- why did you just blow a kiss at me from your window?” The dumber the action, the more difficult it is to explain. If he gets defensive, stick to your question and watch him flounder for an answer. Or end it on your terms by calmly saying, “There’s no excuse for that. No one likes it.”

The Spotlight: This one is my personal favorite. When someone says something stupid to you, ask them to repeat themselves. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please?” Statements like “I like the way your tits bounce” usually sound dumber the second time around, and forcing someone to take accountability for what they said or did often results in embarrassment. I actually got to use this method just the other night. After catching the aforementioned young gentleman fake smack my ass, I stared at him, raised an eyebrow and asked him if he’d like to repeat what he did for the rest of the audience. He stepped back, started stammering, and made his exit faster than you can say “douchebag”.

If you want to have a look see at this entry yourself, visit the link above or click here: jmuwomensstudentcaucus

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these suggestions--they make that sort of situation seem less scary. I think I light the "Spotlight" best, though the All-Purpose Statement certainly seems useful...as do all of them.