Just so we’re on the same page, I don’t love these boots. I’m utterly obsessed. Though I have to admit, when I bought them back in September I thought they were just one of those silly frivolous fashion purchase. I’d wear them a couple of times and then they’d be banished to the back of my wardrobe. They’re bright pink AND satin so neither lowkey nor practical in London’s delightful weather…not to mention their racy over-the-knee length. But these bold boots have formed the basis of my AW17 wardrobe – provided there’s not a single rain cloud in sight!
Unlike the vinyl pants I blogged about a while ago, everyone on social media fell head over heels for my beloved boots too. The first time I wore them – to the Barbican and St Pancras Renaissance Hotel – they attracted admiring glances from pretty much everyone I passed. I was oblivious but my friend pointed out the stares to me. She said it was like being out with Beyonce!
However, not every encounter in the boots has been so positive. I’ve been at the receiving end of what I will politely describe as persistent unwanted attention and lewd comments while wearing my beloved boots. Q: What do the guy on the tube, the corner shop man and the bloke at the bar have in common? A: They all think they’re entitled to an opinion about how I’m dressed and that I give a shit about said opinion. It’s infuriating and infuriatingly common, unfortunately.
Don’t blame the boots though. We live in a culture of blaming the victim for the actions of someone else, which is absolutely ludicrous. yet for some reason, the knee-jerk reaction is to criticise what you’re wearing. Like most women, I’ve been at the receiving end of catcalling and other forms of street harassment, to give it its proper name, no matter what I look like or what I’m wearing. It’s always a reflection of the man and not how much or how little you’re wearing.
For the men who beep their horns, make unsolicited comments or worse, it really has nothing to do with what you look like. It’s a predatory action and whether they have the self-awareness to recognise it or not, their behaviour is aiming to intimidate women. Every time a car beeps at me while I’m just walking and minding my own business, I jump because I’m startled. I’m not flattered at the implied “compliment” from the anonymous man speeding away in their car. The same goes for comments, noises, being followed and otherwise harassed.
A couple of weeks ago, I headed out of my office for some air and to grab a matcha latte. I was engrossed with my emails and typing away furiously on my phone on the way to the little coffee shop on the corner. I was vaguely aware that I passed a building site and some comments were hurled in my direction. On the way back, latte in hand, I heard the comments again. One of the builders, clearly the comedian of the group, was shouting “text me, baby, I’ll show you a good time”. Something snapped. I stopped walking and stopped typing away on my phone. I walked up to the builder and asked him what the hell he said. And you know what, he was dumbfounded. Despite being Billy Big Balls just seconds prior, he had suddenly lost the ability to string a sentence together.
That little incident taught me two things. Firstly, that street harassment was definitely not meant to be a compliment and secondly, the men who do it really can’t handle it if you shout back. That builder’s actions were typically predatory and meant to intimidate. His words were meant to make me feel small. They were meant to convey that being in a public place meant that I was public property. But not on that day. I fought back and it felt good. I felt like I reclaimed my space by standing up for myself.
I wish I could say that I had the courage to speak out every time. The truth is I don’t. Sometimes I’m caught off guard and sometimes it just doesn’t feel safe to speak up. But every time it happens, whether I speak up or not, I remind myself that it’s not a reflection of what I’m wearing. I have as much right to exist on the street and in public places as anyone else. You see, the problem isn’t with the dress or the OTK boots at all.
Dress – Zara
Boots – ASOS (similar)
Clutch – Shrimps (similar)
Photography by Adorngirl.
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