When I was taking movie suggestions for this post, I didn’t think that there would be one that I would instantly connect to. But a good friend of mine threw Taxi Driver out there, and that happened.
To know why I decided on that, you have to know this:
Early last month, I was leaving my local farmers market with my grocery haul for the week. I’d stopped to adjust items in my bag to optimize the comfort of my walk back home. It was a hot day, and I was feeling extra-cute, so I had donned a backless halter-neck crop top with some cuffed jean shorts, and my mock-Sperrys. Near me, there was an older woman with a young girl, perhaps 6-7 years old. The woman had an accident with her purse and items spilled out all over the sidewalk. I rushed to help and as I gave her what I’d picked up, she looked at me, saw what I was wearing, and with unmitigated vitriol, called me a “little whore”. Though I was sorely tempted, I’d said nothing in response, only smiled and then walked away.
For this post I decided to style myself similarly to the streetwalkers in Taxi Driver–short shorts, a crop top, high heels (all Salvation Army finds), and a touch of makeup. I fully realize that I don’t face the exact same issues as a child forced into sex work (part of the film’s storyline, for those unfamiliar)…but my overarching point here is that as a woman, it’s disheartening to know that many times, dressing to please myself has ramifications such as the one I faced at the market that day. As a woman, my body is constantly judged and policed by strangers and I am deemed ‘trash’ for showing skin on a hot day, or any other sort of day I please, for whatever reason.
I do my best to not let that impact how I choose to dress, but something happened when I went outside in this outfit to shoot it. I felt extremely conscious of everything I was exposing. I felt vulnerable. I felt a lot of eyes on me…no one said anything to me, but it was like I could feel their judgment. I was paranoid that someone would try to solicit attention from me, thinking I was ‘easy’ or asking for it. I was carrying a tripod with a camera attached to it and was moving with business-like efficiency, but I wonder if anyone would have done differently if I had been carrying a cute purse instead, with a hit-the-town vibe.
Then, when I got onto the elevator to return to my apartment a man came on with me, and he started asking me if I was a model, where I was from, where could he see my pictures, could he ever take some, heh heh heh. He’d held open the door to keep talking to me when I got off on my floor and I felt suddenly terrified that he wouldn’t let me leave, or that he’d be watching me to try to figure out which apartment I lived in. I managed to eke out a goodbye and walked nearly all the way down the hallway, passing my own door, until I heard the elevator close again. My hand was shaking as it gripped my keys.
I could hardly believe just half an hour in this outfit reduced me to so much quivering flesh and insecurity, and yet there I was. This is what we as women deal with. This is what we are told to work to avoid (being ‘distractions’, being ‘sluts begging for attention’, etc) because too few are interested in teaching how/why not to engage in objectifying behavior. And not only do we cope with others’ possessive feelings over our bodies, we have to cope with our own judgment; the culture of oppression against women is just that deeply embedded. I had to resist shaming myself the entire time I was outside! It goes to show that we’re still quite far away from eradicating this complex problem that perpetuates predatory behavior in men and insecurity, fear, and self-blame in women.
How do you feel about these issues, Honeymooners? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for stopping by. 🙂