Should women wear miniskirts?

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I love wearing miniskirts at the weekend. Granted, I don’t look that happy about it in the photo above – but that’s just because I was caught at the wrong moment. I assure you, I was. I don’t wear them to work, as it would feel unprofessional – but don’t object to others doing it, if they feel comfortable. People in my office do, and that’s fine.

HOWEVER

I saw a woman this morning in a sheer skirt with a big slit right up her thigh, her knickers clearly visible. I take no offence in scantily clad folks but I couldn’t help ogling her – like everyone else – and I wondered if…

1. the staring was annoying her
2. wolf whistles and jeering are that much worse than staring incessantly
3. why us ladies like strutting our stuff in these clothes?

I’ve said before that it pisses me off if men whistle or shout when I’m running in the morning because it can scare me if I’m on a quiet road with no one else around and because I look like a sweaty tomato in leggings: there’s no reason to whistle.

But when we choose to reveal our bodies, what’s the etiquette for onlookers?

I was on the train not so long ago and a teenage girl was in a short, tight mini dress. People were staring at her. It’s not often we see people’s full legs, cleavage, full back etc – so we’re taken aback (esp. at morning rush hour). She got annoyed and said loudly to her boyfriend: I’m getting really PISSED off with rude people staring at me.

I get her wrath but couldn’t help but think that the way we dress is bound to garner certain reactions in people – baggy dungarees will probably give you peace; short, tight miniskirts, backless tops, tight jumpsuits will probably result in quite a lot of attention – whoever you are, whatever you look like, because we don’t see it very often.

So why do we wear miniskirts?

I think for young women miniskirts, and revealing clothes in general, have become staples – like shirts and jeans are for men. So when we’re dressing we pull them out like we might pull out a pair of jeans, or a dress. Anyone who cares at all about how they dress cares because they want to present themselves in a certain way – they know that people will judge them and so dress in a way that they think is appropriate/ cool/ attractive/ sexy. And miniskirts have become normalised – people wear them to work and to weddings, as well as when they’re going out.

Now back to the woman in the sheer skirt with the slit. I reckon the staring was probably expected. But that wolf whistles and jeering aren’t on a par – staring is often accidental, shouting and whistling is pre-meditated and embarrassing for the person receiving that attention.

I was sent a link to a Guardian blog post this morning written by a 17-year-old girl who was verbally harassed by a group of men (read the article here) and she felt like “for those men we were just legs, breasts and pretty faces”. She decided to speak up and the heckling became aggressive. “Speaking up,” she says, “shattered their fantasy, and they responded violently to my voice.”

It’s horrible to hear of young women and teenagers being targeted by older men and receiving unwanted attention – and great that this particular woman used her experience to look into feminism (though a real shame that there was unexpected, highly offensive backlash online). The solution here is NOT for women to cover their bodies, they should dress exactly as they want. The solution is for men to look but not leer.

The sight of skin in summer (that goes for topless men, as well as women in skirts / vest tops) can excite, or stir something in us all – we don’t see it for half the year. So, as I said, by all means have a quick look – we can’t help where our eyes are drawn. But don’t make people feel threatened by shouting at them.