A short dress is more dangerous than a knife, by Houda Laabadi, Morocco

I had just spent what I consider one of the best moments of my life: I went to the concert of one of my favorite bands with a group of amazing friends. It wasn’t extraordinary! It wasn’t life changing. But I felt alive, and that’s all that really matters. I took the tram to return home, it was a great night and I felt optimistic. As if at that exact moment, anything and everything was possible. Yes, I was euphoric. It didn’t last for long. Little did I know that less than thirty minutes later I would witness a situation that would make me, and excuse the term, “lose my shit”.

In the tramcar, there was a young woman, maybe in her twenties. She was wearing an extremely short dress. I try not to judge people, so when I saw her, the only thought I had was: “Wow, she must be very confident, I could never pull that off.” I haven’t always been that way. I used to be judgmental. I used to slut-shame girls who wore short or revealing clothes. So, what changed? I grew up. I matured enough to understand that what someone wears has nothing to do with me; that every single one of us has their story, and that the way they choose to dress, talk, walk, or behave, is just the consequence of a life full of choices, maybe bad choices, but still, I do not have the right to judge them.

Unfortunately, the other people on the tram didn’t share my point of view. I heard a bunch of men criticizing her and looking at her legs at the same time. Ah, the hypocrisy! The poor girl saw them and started feeling self-conscious and pulling her dress down to make it longer. A few minutes later, it was her stop and it was then that the most revolting scene happened. A woman, out of nowhere, grabbed by the arm and began insulting her: “Why don’t you wear more clothes? Are you a prostitute? Don’t you have parents?”. She practically assaulted her in the middle of the crowd. The girl broke free from her and ducked quickly out of the tramcar.

After that, everyone in the tram talked about her. About how she didn’t respect them by flaunting her stinky flesh right in front of them. About how she was a whore and a slut and was asking for it. I even heard a sentence that made me dream of living alone in a hut on some far away beach: “She doesn’t respect people, what if there is a man here with his wife?” All I wanted to say was: “I’m sorry, but why would it be her fault that a married man looks at another woman and disrespects his wife? Are men some sort of wild animals? Don’t they have control over their lust?”

All of this made my blood boil. I wanted to shout at them, to tell them that it wasn’t their problem, that it was her body, her life; that they should just mind their own business and that, if they didn’t like what she wore, they could just not look at her. I wanted to tell those men that their eyes and minds were dirtier than her short dress and her flesh. I wanted to ask the woman who assaulted her if she would have accepted it if someone did that to her in another country where the veil was considered “extremism”.

I wanted to ask them all those questions. But I didn’t. Instead, I put on my headphones and listened to music. Because I didn’t want to listen to them anymore.

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