Thursday, 8 June 2017

Harassment in Lolita

EDIT- So I wrote this post before the recent terrorist attacks, both here in the UK and other parts of the world. I suppose I just wanted to add a quick little note to say that although these attacks can be scary and devastating, I really hope that we can all continue to go about our lives as normally as possible. Don't let terror win. I guess I just wanted to acknowledge recent events and my heart goes out to all the victims.

I have seen a very worrying trend in my social media feed as of late and sadly, it is one I am all too familiar with. Stories of friends getting 'hit on', harassed and sometimes even attacked. This is not just about lolita fashion, although I think it is fair to say that wearing the fashion can draw a lot of attention from the general public- whether it is wanted or not. There are so many stories I could tell you about things I have experienced (mostly whilst wearing lolita) but I would be here all day. I think over the years I have heard it all and nothing really surprises me anymore. Sometimes it can be a very positive experience. Seeing a little kid getting excited about seeing a 'real life princess' can be super adorable! But sadly, it also goes the other way an awful lot. I have had drunks flirt with me, I have been grabbed by the wrist by a complete stranger, had a druggie confront me. It can be very difficult to just shake it off and forget about it, even if most of it is 'harmless'. I wont go in to detail, but there was an incident that happened during my childhood which is still affecting me today. One day I was cooking a meal when suddenly I remembered something negative which happened to me during a lolita meet. I ended up hyperventilating on the kitchen floor. But there is a part of me which simply refuses to stop wearing lolita, in spite of the negative moments. In an ideal world, we would be able to wear whatever we wanted without having to worry about reactions from other people. We should wear the clothing we love, but should also feel safe. I refuse to let them win. So I feel that as lolitas, we should acknowledge that actually, what we are doing is quite brave and inspiring in its own way. I remember as a new lolita being a bit terrified about wearing the fashion outside the house and it took me a bit of time. Now I wear my frills with pride!

But sometimes it doesn't hurt to be prepared. If you feel reassured that you are safe, I think you are more likely to enjoy yourselves when wearing lolita in public. Here is hoping that these hints are never needed, but do keep them in mind. A lot of these points will seem like common sense, but it is vital to emphasise these points. I tried to make some lolita-specific points as well. If you can think of any ideas to add, then please comment. Your input could make a huge difference.

Just a quick note- some of these are just general comments about dealing with the general public, whereas others are about being prepared for the more serious.

Block out the cat-calling with props- If you struggle with comments being shouted at you, sometimes the only thing you can do is ignore them, especially if it is a less serious comment. Sometimes it is hard to come up with a witty comeback and if you misread the situation, you can end up making things worse. I tend to use 'props' such as fiddling with my phone, sticking my headphones in (regardless of whether I am actually listening to music or not) or making an effort to make eye-contact with just the person I am walking with.

Attach a bell to your bag- Some bag charms come with bits and pieces which jingle when tampered with. The good thing is, there are loads which will fit in with a cute aesthetic! If somebody is getting a bit too close for comfort to your belongings, hopefully you will get some warning. Another suggestion would be to wear bag straps across your body.

Make use of concealed pockets- Another reason why Angelic Pretty is one of my favourite brands! Not only are the pockets useful, they are also not too visible. So sometimes I will put some essentials in there, just to keep them safe. Always remember to take them out before you wash your clothes though! An interesting idea I came across recently is to hide a small bit of money inside a sanitary pad napkin (hopefully nobody would go out of their way to touch that...).

Learn basic self defense techniques- I never thought I would ever need to use these in lolita, but I admit that when a stranger grabbed my wrist and clenched my wrist tightly, I completely froze. It made me realise just how open I had left myself. Knowing how to get out of that hold could have been very useful. Thankfully the guy let me go after a few seconds but I was still left shaken. I would never wish that sort of incident on anybody.

Take off some accessories in 'rougher' areas- Sometimes areas of your town, whether justified or not, gain a bit of notoriety for being dangerous. It is usually best to avoid these areas, but sometimes this is not possible if you have to be somewhere. If I am wearing something that is easy to take off, such as a head bow, I will sometimes take it off. I also try to wear my coat whenever it is not too hot. I once even mastered taking off my petticoat in a toilet cubicle without touching anything!

Everyday objects can help when you are at serious risk- Brushes, keys, pointy rings... there are loads of everyday objects you could potentially have to hand if somebody attacks you that could help you to escape. Just be careful, as laws can vary between countries. For example, I don't believe it is legal to carry mace spray in the UK? (somebody please correct me if I am wrong) but there is nothing stopping you from carrying a holiday sized travel mini of hairspray on you. It wont have the exact same effect, but it gives you the element of surprise.

Thank people who are polite- If somebody goes to the trouble of asking me for a photo instead of just taking one without asking, I will usually try to thank them. I feel it just emphasises that it is common courtesy to ask, rather than not getting permission. Sometimes I have even spoken a bit loudly whilst doing so, as another rogue snapper has been in earshot!

Stay in groups where you can- Safety in numbers! I always feel a lot more confident when I have other people around me. It makes me feel a bit less 'exposed'. Other lolitas usually have their own horror stories about dealing with the general public, so they tend to empathise more.

Download safety apps on to your phone- There are loads of them out there, just in case the worst does happen. You can get ones that alert people if you are taking an exceptionally long time to get somewhere or ones that act as alarms.

I really hope that this post is just me wanting to be extra cautious. I have sometimes mentioned in the past about my negative experiences on this blog. Unfortunately, negative scenarios are all too real and there are people reading this who will have experienced terrible things. It really upsets me to see others get treated in such a bad way as well. Like I said, ideally we would all be able to go out in whatever clothing we want and not get harassed. But real life is not like that, even outside of lolita fashion. I actually had one of my worst experiences when I wasn't wearing lolita at all. I don't really know what else to say... I hope this post comes across with good intention. Stay safe.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...