My car broke down, but at first, I wasn’t scared. I was uncomfortable. I was in fetish wear, and deep down we all know that both men and women react differently to a person depending on what he or she wears. Last Saturday night, I was on my way to Miami to pick up a friend and head to Submission, a fetish party on South Beach. My car broke down in the middle of a busy intersection on Ives Dairy Road. It’s unsafe enough for a woman to have her car break down when she’s alone, much less when she’s wearing skin-tight, shiny, red leggings and a black corset.
I was in provocative clothing and put in a vulnerable situation, so I stayed in my car and called roadside assistance. All my doors were shut, all windows up. (I eventually got scared when a man speaking gibberish pulled up on his bicycle.) The hoots and hollers can get bad enough in the daytime while I’m in baggy sweaters. I cringed at the thought of getting hollered at there, hunkered down in my Chevy TrailBlazer.
I never feel better when a guy honks and shouts out that I’m sexy from his car window. In fact, it makes me feel worse because it frightens me. Day after day, we’re reminded that we’re women, and in turn, in danger because of a simple fact of nature: Men are stronger. (Another reminder: Buy mace.) I wonder what the world would be like if both men and women had equal physical strength?
Was I asking for obscene shout-outs because of what I was wearing? Absolutely not. Still, because I was wearing it, somehow I felt like I was asking for it. And that disturbed me. Why? It all begins and ends with the horrifying social edict that women deserve to be harassed or worse if they choose to dress a certain way.
Provocative clothing is not limited to fetish parties by any means, of course. But this is what makes these parties so glorious. No matter what you wear, you feel safe. No matter what you wear, you feel comfortable. There is a different mindset. Everyone is dressed in whatever way will liberate them that night — and no one looks like the stripper, or the dominatrix, or the lawyer, or the librarian, or the marine.
This was the second time this happened to me. The first time, I got a flat tire on my way to a Fetish Factory party on State Road 84. I was wearing a very short, poofy red tutu and a tiny black tube top, and luckily, I had on a thin cardigan because it was cold out. That night, I made an Andrew WK call: Party now, fix the tire later. I got the flat tire near the club. That night, in my tutu, I crept through a car dealership, so I wouldn’t be seen from the road. I stopped jogging because due to my lack of clothing, I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I got lost and ended up at the entrance of a hip hop club, where a woman out front gave me a suspicious stare and said: “What the fuck is this girl wearing?”
But this past Saturday night, I couldn’t stop the honks — my car was stuck in the left lane at a busy intersection. Fortunately, I found a hoodie in the back seat and put it on. Maybe 40 to 50 cars pulled up behind me, and, after realizing my car was not going to move, they went around me. Forty-five minutes later — shortly after the tow truck driver arrived — two cop cars and a cop on a motorcycle pulled up. Someone had called the police, saying I was passed out behind the wheel.
Think about what happened in Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts puts on a most revealing — yet not horrible — outfit and takes to her corner of Hollywood Boulevard. A billionaire pulls over. She gives him directions. They end up together. I had no such luck — though the tow truck driver did fall for me. But I also had no such luck because that’s a fantasy sold to women, telling them if they endure the hoots and hollers, the prince will emerge. I smell bullshit. Instead, I think it’s time we say goodbye to the glass slipper, and hello to the more liberal world trapped (willingly) under the stiletto of the thigh-high boot.
– By Mickie Centrone