from the chicktionary: bad feminist confessions

Lena Chen

lena chen wears tight jeans in NYC - and lives to tell about it.

bell hooks says that “feminism is for everybody” but could you be doing it wrong? If you wear push-up bras, partake in doggy-style intercourse, or enjoy teen vampire romance novels, then chances are, you’re unwittingly aiding the Patriarchy! Luckily for you, Lena Chen, a self-described “Bad Feminist,” is here to steer you clear of pink consumer products and strippercise classes. In this edition of “Bad Feminist Confessions”, Lena finds that she can’t speak truth to the Patriarchy when the Patriarchy is busy looking at her ass. It’s time for a more creative solution to street harassment, don’t you think?

I forgot how much cat-calling goes on in New York. And then I ended up wearing super tight skinny jeans for my three-day visit in the city and found out pretty quickly. It was supposed to be a one-night trip, but things came up. (And by “things”, I mean multiple personal crises.) 72 hours after donning pants that molded to the shape of my buttocks, I was more than ready to go home and shower off the city grime and and dissuade any further displays of lecherous attention.

Sometimes I do talk back (sometimes, I even kick cars!), but I mostly just walk away. I’ve never felt as if there’s a really effective comeback. I’m not sure what would be the feminist thing to do in this situation. The middle of the street is not the place to be delivering a lecture on objectification and personal boundaries. I’m more than content being the humorless feminist when given a situation in which I might actually be able to make a difference/point. But cat-calling? Is there ever a correct response? (And no, responding meekly “thank you”, as I once did, is not the appropriate response.)

I read somewhere (perhaps on Jezebel?) that one’s woman solution is to yell at her harassers: “Suck my c*$%!” Threatening someone’s masculinity by casting doubt on their sexuality is perhaps the best way to teach them to keep their lascivious thoughts to themselves. It’s not mature, I’ll concede that, but it’s likely to leave a lasting impression, especially if one can manage a simultaneous crotch thrust.

Maybe it’s time for me to start packing a little something extra in those skinny jeans.

What were you wearing when you’ve been cat called? Are you ready and armed with a response? Share your comments below!

Interested in smart talk about gender and sexuality? Follow Lena Chen‘s blog, The Chicktionary!

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Posted in: Ask an Expert, Health, Sex & Relationships
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  • crystal

    I've never had someone do that to me but i've had guys stare at me (nothing was on my face or my butt or my shoes i've checked each time) which kinda creeps me out.

  • Rem

    Oh, oops, I see. I didn't pick up on that. But in that case, go on! I wish people would talk about feminism more often.

  • Hey Rem,

    I totally agree with you! Bad Feminist Confessions is mostly satire and pokes fun at the notion that women can't be feminists and also do all of those things. Sorry if that didn't get across!


  • Rem

    Just a note: Push up bras, doggy style, and skinny jeans are not the problem here (although Twilight, now that is a problem). Feminism is about letting women wear and do whatever they want. The solution is not to hide women away in shapeless clothes and stop them from participating in sex positions that they enjoy; the solution is to do something to change the way men behave and treat women. Telling them to "suck your c***" is not going to change anything. What we need is a revamping of the way people are raised, educated, and influenced.

    • Eve


  • jennyBgood

    i've totally told guys to eff off or go to hell and not been afraid to drop f-bombs on them. do i have to show respect if they are disrespectful in the first place? no way. i don't see it as sinking down to their level, but I do see it as the clearest way possible to get my point across in a way i know they'll understand. vulgarity works wonders that way. and it doesn't matter what I'm wearing, guys are dogs.

    • deeee

      i agree with jennyBgood ^^^^^^^

      it definitly doesnt matter what im wearing , guys are pigs ! ive been walking down the street in sweats , hair mess , && no make up at all . men have almost broke their necks starinng . plus if a "man" is going to be vulgar to me then he deserves a dose of his own medicine , im not gonna be treated like something im not .