Two weeks ago, I decided to go to a local fireworks show with my boyfriend. The place was crawling with teenagers, the thick summer air made my eyelids feel rather heavy, and game stands accompanied food trucks with lines seemingly longer than the Great Wall of China. We were standing in an overly-crowded parking lot as we awaited the fireworks to run streaks of colorful glitter across the night sky. A group of high school-aged girls stood next to us, all wearing trendy outfits with their phones glued directly to their fingertips. Two boys mingled with their group. Out of pure curiosity of analyzing youth, I managed to survey them out of the corner of my eye. Those boys looked at the girls like they were nothing more than a good meal. I quietly observed as one of the boys nudged the another, his eyes summing up one of the girls—who was coincidentally wearing a cute little choker. His eyes took their sweet time wandering to the base of her neck.
“Ah dude, look at that. She’s totally asking for it. I’ll have a lot of fun with her and that thing around her neck tonight.”
I was floored. Although he said it as a whisper to his friend, I was close enough to hear every word he muttered. I had never given much thought to chokers before this specific moment, but suddenly, a young man summing up a girl and her “sexual” desires based solely on the thin piece of fabric secured around her neck made me put this expressive form of an accessory into question.
Instinctively, my hand reached up to grab the choker around my own neck and my face hardened with internal rage.
That boy assumed wearing a choker meant she wanted rough-sex.
It’s a necklace. An accessory. It’s something females (or males) tend wear that is merely meant to display a sense of individualism and self-pride. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, a choker has now morphed and is viewed as an object that “insinuates something inappropriate to men”. So to provide my visceral reaction to the aforesaid statement: I am appalled that a man’s mind can completely wander when he sees a woman sporting a choker. A woman does NOT wear a choker or any other kind of seemingly “provocatively insinuating” garment to show anything other than it’s something SHE wants to wear. Even though I’ve never personally met the young girl wearing the choker and I can’t say for certain that she didn’t want rough-sex, I’d bet money on the fact that if she is anything like me or the rest of the female population, then she was wearing her choker as a fashion statement and not as a sign to boys that she’s an easy hook-up that occasionally likes to be choked. My blood boils at the thought of men hungrily staring at anything a girl is wearing, and then naturally assuming that “she’s asking for it.” Be it a choker, stilettos, heavier makeup, a clingy tube-top, deep V-neck shirts, or daisy-dukes—a woman goes out wearing what she wants, and not for the sake of what others desire to see her in. We put on our clothes and accessories in the morning with the full intention of wearing them for our own damn selves; because we wear what makes us feel good.
There have been times when I’ve heard about rape cases that went by without much thought or concern because the victimized woman was wearing something too revealing at the time and her lack of clothes was somehow indicative of her “asking for it to happen.” Sure, that makes total sense—a woman wears something risqué, so therefore she has the intention of getting raped. How can anyone defend such a moronic statement? How can anyone be so cruel as to judge another human being for what they are wearing, and then stake the claim that her attire was her way of virtually asking to be assaulted and/or raped?
There is so much constant pressure on women to look good in whatever they wear, at all times. We are not perfect muses, and nor should the things we put on our bodies somehow define us as anything other than individuals seeking our own versions of comfort in our chosen lifestyles. But now something as measly as a choker is grabbing an unwarranted kind of attention. As women, we should not and shall not stop wearing what we decide to, because we don’t dress to appease anyone but ourselves. And when it comes to chokers, we’ll continue to wear them for the trend. Mini history lesson: During the French Revolution in 1798, women took to wearing red ribbons around their necks (much like the modern-day version of chokers) in order to pay homage to those who faced their impeding death at the hand of the guillotine. So boys, we mustn’t forget that history has a tendency of repeating itself. If you keep making statements like these, then perhaps you’ll give us women a real reason to wear our chokers.
As the fireworks began to explode and fade in the sky above, the boy went over and hung his ape-like arm around the girl’s tiny shoulders. But she shrugged him off and slipped away so she could stand with her friends. I smiled. So much for his bright idea.
With love, by Ari.