Biking in a Skirt, Slut Walks, and Dressing How You Please

06/13/2011 11:23 AM |

bike_skirt.jpg
  • NY Daily News

Yesterday, the Daily News ran a story about Jasmijn Rijcken, a Dutch woman who was allegedly yelled at by cops for biking in a skirt.

“He said it’s very disturbing, and it’s distracting the cars and it’s dangerous,” Rijcken told the Daily News. “I thought he was joking around but he got angry and asked me for ID.”
Rijcken, 31, was not given a ticket during the May 3 incident, and did not get the officer’s name, but was left feeling baffled.
“I didn’t even think for one second that my outfit could be harmful or disturbing,” she said.

As NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne points out in the story, there’s no way of knowing what actually happened without talking to the officer in question. But as slut walk protests happen around the country in response to a Toronto police officer’s suggestion that to avoid being raped, “women should avoid dressing like sluts,” it seems like we need to be having a more serious conversation about women and how they dress.

It’s so 101 that it’s tedious, and yet the fact that women’s bodies are not the problem never quite sinks all the way in with some people. The response always seems to be like, but panties! What if I saw a girl’s panties, I can’t be held responsible for driving if there are panties around! When there are billboards full of women in panties all over the highway, but more importantly, grow up. Women are people, people in bodies, bodies that need to get from place to place, in public. Clothes shift. Shirts gap. Skirts blow up in the wind. Clothes that are culturally normative don’t cover every inch of skin from every possible angle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been “corrected” by some stranger when I’m in a skirt (and not a short skirt, not that it matters, but I’m talking knee length plus, here) because someone below me on the subway stairs could see my underpants up my skirt. Here’s a thought: instead of me wearing only loose-fitting, long pants and long sleeved, high-necked shirts, maybe don’t look up my skirt while I’m on the staircase! Or if you do, fucking deal with it! It’s just underpants! You’ve seen them before! They’re not going to kill you!

If an accidental panty flash makes it so you can’t drive a vehicle, or if a scantily clad woman makes it so you can’t not rape her, you are the problem. People bitch about nanny state this, government control that, but is there anything more infantalizing than the assumption that men are so very unable to control themselves that women’s bodies have to be criminalized? Or that it’s only “natural” that the sight of a woman dressed in a sexually provocative way—whether she intends it to be sexually provocative or not, since that is rarely in our control—would make a man unable to keep his eyes on the road or his dick in his pants? Guys, you are the ones who should be insulted here. Just another reason why feminism is for dudes, too.

9 Comment

  • Applause!

  • Marketing stunt for the bike she’s pictured on. She works for the company and is town to promote it, and now you’ve run a photo with the (visually distinctive) bike front and center. You’ve been duped, L Magazine.

  • For more info on The New Amsterdam Bike Show, the first bicycle show in NYC in over 5 years, please visit http://www.newambikeshow.com/!

  • You’re equating distracted driving to rape? Feminism is for dudes, but this isn’t about feminism; this is about political correctness & the need to suspend sense in favour of it.

    We have firm, fairly just laws against unwanted touching of another person, a few laws against unwanted verbalizations, & none against looking (unless you’re looking at a building that houses government – can’t look at that too long before authorities see a problem).

    We have begun to address distraction within the vehicle – radio controls on steering wheels, methods for hands-free cellphone communication (handheld cells while driving is illegal here in Ontario) – & some advocate reducing some/all kinds of advertising from where drivers are expected to manoeuvre thousands of pounds of steel without killing anyone. We give pedestrians the right of way, but expect them to cross roads at designated areas & to look both ways.

    By insisting that the distracted driver is 100% at fault for not being able to resist an ill-timed glance at a sexually attractive someone is an argument in favour of the burqa. Slavish devotion to any philosophy, doctrine or ‘ism’ without acknowledging that human beings need to live inside them after evolving with the necessary ability to identify & focus on things that interest us is a big reason why (insert any reason authoritarians wish us all to be on mood/emotion stabilizers).

    ~An unpopular POV from an anti-authoritarian, pro-slutwalk dude feminist

  • At no time did the author equate distracted driving with rape. They were mentioned as two entirely separate facets of a connected perception (i.e. that men are helpless slaves to their hormones).

  • You’re overlooking the weird fact that much of the cultural opposition towards female body visibility is from women themselves. There are a lot of women who don’t want their men looking at other women under any circumstance, much less the more illicit views of underwear or bare skin. Again the problem is not with the woman being viewed but with the mindset of the people condemning her.

  • This town ain’t big enough for religious dude and attractive chicks.

  • Murpedo, you defend OP’s wildly assumptive correlation between distracted driving & rape. The rotation of the eye toward, & holding one’s attention for a few seconds on, a flash of underwear is MANY levels of dastardly perversion & intentional disrespect (not to mention a crime) separated from the several conscious & considered actions needed to subdue & rape a person.

    It was a bad analogy by OP; it suggests that every stare at an attractive person would become an attempted rape in another circumstances.

  • The conservative religious opposition to pants-wearing by women has to do with inciting lustful thoughts, not with suddenly, uncontrollably going berserko. Looks like the anti-pants people would be happy for women to wear skirts, biking or whenever. If the skirt is “too short,” all it needs to fix that is to wear a longer one. At least the women are wearing skirts! It’s a start! It shows that women really CAN survive while wearing skirts!