Woman showcases how she modifies her outfit to avoid getting catcalled in NYC: ‘I will be afraid that someone is going to take me and hurt me’
A New York City-based fashion influencer is demonstrating how she modifies her outfits to avoid getting catcalled while on the subway.
Madison Wild (@madisonxwild) is a model and fashion girlie located in New York City. With over 656,000 combined followers on TikTok and Instagram, Wild’s developed a following for her clear, eclectic point of view when it comes to her sense of style.
In a recent video, TikTok user Hannah (@hannahtiktoks97) asked, “Do you get catcalled in NYC? I would be so scared but your fashion is impeccable.”
‘…I would not be caught dead on the f****** subway in this, because I will be afraid that someone is going to take me and hurt me.’
On May 12, Wild posted a video in response to Hannah’s comment.
“So, unfortunately, part of being a gowrl in NYC is that you have to have an outfit over your outfit or under your outfit,” Wild begins. “This is the outfit I’m wearing to the event. Super cute, but I would not be caught dead on the f****** subway in this, because I will be afraid that someone is going to take me and hurt me.”
Wild pairs a patterned halter top with a sheer, cream-colored lace skirt.
“So, what we do is a lot of the time I will put, like, a big t-shirt over something like this or I put shorts under and then I just put them in my bag after. And then I also will probably do a little jacket moment,” she explains. “And it’s not totally ruining the outfit. It’s still cute.”
“Same thing if I were to put, like, just an oversized jacket. I usually like to do an oversized jacket or t-shirt I can put in my bag. But I like the underwear. So yeah, that’s what I do,” she adds.
Wild admits that she still feels a bit apprehensive leaving her apartment, even with the adjustments she’s made.
“And I still feel, like, a little nervy, but I’m not in anything crazy,” she says. “Like, at the end of the day, these are normal-length shorts. Men are just scary, so stay safe.”
“Keep a knife or something. Maybe not. Maybe pepper spray, a gun, I don’t know,” she jokes.
‘we could literally be wearing trash bags and still get cat called … sad’
Wild’s video, which has more than 266,200 views and 26,200 likes in just two days of posting, has generated discourse surrounding the perils of being a woman in New York City.
“got catcalled in a huge oversized hoodie and pants… they see female they jump regardless of what ur wearing,” @carlymariin wrote.
“It’s very sad we have to do this as women. You’re beautiful as ever,” @babygrinchxox said.
“I dream of a world where it’s all girlies and we can dress SO cute,” @rootforellie replied.
“we could literally be wearing trash bags and still get cat called … sad,” @desiraerita admitted.
“i forgot my subway shirt on monday and i almost had a panic attack,” @priya.mia revealed.
‘yall act like lower manhattan is afghanistan’
And while many TikTok users feel for Wild and the precautions she takes to maintain her safety in the city, others have taken a critical, less empathetic stance.
“It’s not about what you’re wearing this just kinda perpetuates…..” @1017bonkers wrote.
“Leave New York you ain’t welcome anymore,” @realkennybattle declared.
“i don’t think it should be allowed to wear underwear in public anyway,” @hyunjaestinyteeth said.
“yall act like lower manhattan is afghanistan,” @7sssssb criticized.
‘…I probably wouldn’t if I hadn’t gotten a chunk of my hair ripped out after being chased down the street, and mugged and assaulted…’
Wild replied to @7sssssb in a separate video on May 14, in which she defends her decision to alter her outfits in an effort to protect against unwanted male attention.
“See, and I probably wouldn’t if I hadn’t gotten a chunk of my hair ripped out after being chased down the street, and mugged and assaulted while with two guys and another girl,” she revealed. “And I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if I was alone, because we luckily got away, but only because I was with other people that helped me get away.”
Wild then asserts that she’s completely content with taking precautions just as she wants to — and encouraging others to take theirs, too.
“So I will wear my shorts and take my precautions, and warn other people to take their precautions as well, in peace,” she added.
SSH, or Street Sexual Harassment, “occurs in a public space (street, public transport) and is conceptualized by a face-to-face interaction between two unknown people, that is, people who share no stable, long-term or safe connection,” according to Victoria A. Ferrer-Pérez, a women’s studies, feminism and gender researcher at the University of Balearic Islands.
Commonly recognized as “gender-based harm,” SSH is understood to be among “the most pervasive forms of sexual violence,” according to Bianca Fileborn, a senior lecturer in Criminology at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. “Street harassment is deeply implicated in the (re)production of gendered power relations and their spatial manifestation” and “can be understood as both the result of broader systems of gender inequality and actively reproducing these power relations.”
Women in cities where catcalling and street sexual harassment are prevalent find themselves in incredibly vulnerable, often gendered positions. In a matter of moments, women can become victims of what’s called “sexual terrorism,” which is the control implied by men over women in the form of both “actual and implied violence,” according Deirdre Davis in the UCLA Women’s Law Journal.
All this to say, Wild has every right to dress however she wants, whenever she wants — and her decision to alter an ensemble to mitigate potential sexual harassment is also entirely hers to make. While some commenters lack the empathy to recognize the plight of simply being a woman, the majority, thankfully, support Wild and the ways she chooses to express and protect herself.
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