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Sexual harassment in summer

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sexual harassment, summertime, The summer months aren’t all fun and games for women.

Sexual harassment is a 24/7, 365 days-a-year problem – and as a 22 year-old woman, I know this well. It’s the bane of my day-to-day life, and it makes me feel on edge every time I leave the house.

But, with summer officially upon us, I think it’s important to discuss the effects that the change in season has on the frequency and nature of sexual harassment.

I don’t think it can be denied that sexual harassment tends to get worse in the summer, when women are less ‘covered up’, so to speak, and it can be a really stressful and frustrating time. We have to keep our guard up even more than usual for fear of unwanted groping, comments and propositions, and live in an almost constant state of anticipation and fear.

As well as dealing with the heat like everyone else, women are made to feel self-conscious, ashamed and ridiculed for dressing according to the weather.

We are asked to wear something ‘less revealing’, accused of looking ‘slutty’, eyed up and down as we pass along the street.

We are told, ‘what do you expect when you dress like that?’.

Even when we do wear something longer, something with a higher neckline, or cover our legs completely, despite the potential discomfort that comes with it in hot weather, we still question whether we’ve dressed inappropriately.

We walk with our eyes to the floor, avoiding people’s gaze, hoping nobody notices us. Hoping we won’t attract the wrong sort of attention, hoping that we’ll be let off this time.

We’ll go out on a warm summer’s evening, wearing a dress and feeling good about ourselves, only to be degraded by strangers. We are leered at, we are interrupted, we are grabbed, and we are shouted at.

We are made to feel like those big hunks of meat hanging from the ceiling in the butchers, on display for everyone to ogle at.

You know that I am not exaggerating, but this is the reality for women today, a reality which becomes even more unpleasant during what should be one of the nicest times of the year.

Blogger Rachel Hosie raised this issue in a recent post after she was sexually assaulted outside Victoria Station in London on her way to work: ‘It was the first day of the year I’d ditched the tights and gone out with bare legs.

‘I don’t want to make a link between that and what happened, but it’s bloody ridiculous that simply showing a little more flesh means some men think it’s ok to grope a woman.

‘I wasn’t wearing a tiny, tight skirt – I was going to work after all – but it shouldn’t have mattered if I was anyway.

‘No woman is ever asking for it or inviting unwanted attention by how she dresses, and men need to learn this.’

What makes this particularly hard to swallow is the fact that when the sun comes out, men frequently walk around in public bare-chested, and nobody really bats an eyelid.

Women on the other hand, as a result of being highly sexualised over decades, are often judged and subjected to unwanted attention and scrutiny simply because they are wearing a vest top and shorts.

Don’t even get me started on what it’s like to be on a beach wearing a bikini.

This, to put it mildly, is grossly wrong. These double standards are out-dated and tiring. Every woman has the right to dress how she likes, when she likes, and should be able to enjoy the nice weather without people commenting, touching or harassing her.

It is perfectly possible to admire someone and acknowledge that you find them attractive from a distance, without acting on it in any way. If you do wish to act on it, then there are plenty of ways of going about that without humiliating, frightening, offending, or outright assaulting the person in question.

It’s not rocket science and it’s high-time this issue stopped being downplayed, and started being given the attention it needs.

Going out with bare legs shouldn’t be a big deal, nor should my hemline or neckline be such an issue for other people. What I wear or how I look isn’t offensive – people’s attitudes are.

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