I was walking back to the 42nd street subway stop from an improv show. It was midnight and I felt tired having just spent a lot of energy in my own improv rehearsal and then watching a show. I hunched into my jacket and felt the familiar sense of false safety from having a big winter jacket on. The way I figure it, if I have a big winter jacket on, a large hat that covers my hair, and a scarf that takes care of everything but the face, I should avoid the looks and jeers of most horny guys I pass on the street, right? Because, as far as I know, some religious practices dictate that women wear this kind of stuff all the time in order to avoid any salacious comments, and that it is absolutely necessary if you wish to live a more modest (and therefore pious and good?) life.

I disagree.

Try being a woman in her 20’s, walking up 8th avenue at midnight, wearing full winter regalia and still getting snapped out of a thought from a guy banging on his store window in order to catch your eye as he winks at you. Or, getting the very perceptive comment of “Nice hat, beautiful,” followed up by: “Can I buy you breakfast?”

I’m flattered that these human beings feel the need to express themselves and let me know how attractive I am to them, but, really? I’m wearing a big puffy jacket, smeared make-up, and bags under my eyes. I’m staring off into space (like I normally do when I walk the streets on New York) and am totally comfortable being in my own world until someone snaps me out of a thought with a comment about my physical appearance. I’m not even looking at them! I didn’t make eye contact or accidentally drop my bag and cry for help. These guys, noticed me walking by: big coat and all.

I’m not mad; I’m more amused than irritated. Does it really matter what I’m wearing? Summer has me in shorts, flip-flops, and a tank top and I get the same comments that I get in the winter. The real hypocrisy to me is that modesty has been defined by what a woman clothes her body in. I’m finding that is stinking with a lot of bull shit. I saw a photo of a young woman wearing nothing but her birthday suit and written across her naked chest a statement that says: “Still not asking for it.” Damn right.  A woman is beautiful, no matter how many layers she can throw on herself, and any man with an eyeball to look out of will comment regardless.

January 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm by Natalie Allen