I Dress {Down} for the Men


Eventually I stopped wearing anything I thought would illicit explicit hollas and I even avoided going down certain streets where I knew there would be a cluster of men. My bold patters were gone. Hems got longer. My four-inch stilettos turned into two-inch moderate heels. The moderate heels turned into flats with heels in my purse.

I dressed down for the men.

After I changed (literally) the comments were still there, but the level of harassment wasn’t as intense. I got less grief walking down the street, but I felt way more toned down than I wanted to be.

It wasn’t until a guy I was dating pointed out how silly this was.
Him: You would never let me tell you how to dress, would you?
Me: I didn’t even verbalize an answer. I just gave him a side eye with my face screwed up.
Him: So why would you let someone you don’t even know change how you move?

He hated the fact that I was being harassed, but even more than that, he hated that I was dwarfing myself.

Not only was I giving these men power over me, but I was taking on the burden of thinking I was somehow responsible for their bad behavior.

Shortly after that I went back to my way of dress: sequins, ruffles and all!

The gargantuan balls some men magically grow on the street corner didn’t have to turn me in to a shrinking violet.

The men haven’t changed and the “cat calls” are still there, but at least I’ve changed (not literally this time). I keep it moving, knowing that their disrespectful behavior is more of a reflection of them, not what I choose to wear.

I stopped dressing (down) for the men.

- Patrice J. Williams