It’s hot. For once, the British weather has actually acknowledged the meaning of ‘summer’ and has graced us with weeks of sun. I couldn’t be happier – nothing makes me smile more than a lot of sunshine. I instantly equate sunshine and warm weather to days out with friends, catching up and cooling down with a pint, listening to music whilst basking in the sun and spontaneous evenings out.
It is only this summer, my first summer after university, that I’ve thought about the sinister side of summer. I never had a problem before; I haven’t seen a summer this hot in a good few years, so I was never really aware of it. It was only when I was catching up on Everyday Sexism and browsing the internet about air conditioning and ventilation on the tubes that it became obvious. Summer seems to bring out the pervs in people. Sexual harassment has risen significantly during the heatwave and the common excuse is that by wearing skirts, shorts and dresses – i.e. dressing comfortably in the sticky heat – means that women are ‘asking for it’.
Believe it or not, when women get dressed before going out and bracing themselves for the stuffy underground, which is terrible even in winter, we don’t dress and think ‘gee, I hope someone catcalls me or gropes me in these shorts, else it will be a wasted outing!’ We dress the way we do because it is summer. It is incredibly hot, even more so when commuting. We dress for comfort. I can’t think of anything worse than it being almost 30˚c and being covered head to toe in something like jeans and a jumper (though given some of the gentry around, we’d probably still be asking for it then). We dress for ourselves, be it for our own satisfaction, comfort or practicality. We are not objects to defile and degrade. You do not have a right to comment on our bodies or the nature in which we have dressed them. Our bodies are our private space, not a public space which you can grope or masturbate at. Catcalling is never a compliment and actually makes us feel like we shouldn’t have bothered leaving the house because of the amount of sexual harassment we have had to endure just to be comfortable.
Our bodies are exactly that – ours. We have the right to dress according to the weather without suffering leering gazes mentally undressing us. And I’ll be damned if I let perverts dictate my movements and outfits during the summer: clothing is never the cause of sexual harassment.