An Open Letter to the Boy Who Yelled ‘Put on a shirt’

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To the boy that told my friend to "Put on a shirt,"

After a fun night out, my friends and I returned back to our dorm. We all felt and looked good, my friend Anna* was rocking her new tube top and I felt happy about how our night had gone. In fact, we felt the best we’d felt since arriving at AU, finally clicking with friends and getting comfortable in our new home. And of course, you had to ruin that.

As we walked down the hallway past the crowded lounge on our floor, you decided to shout “Put on a shirt!” at Anna. As laughter erupted from your little crowd, anger swelled inside me and I watched Anna’s face go red.

While hurt and embarrassed, Anna felt empowered to call you out on this sexist action as you muttered an apology without looking up from your feet. In your defense, your friends claimed you were a “well known feminist” and “attend women’s marches and protests.” In Anna’s defense, I called bullsh*t.

It’s not enough to simply make a sign and show up at a protest or to call yourself a feminist. You have to practice what you preach.

In the simplest sense, Anna can do and wear whatever she wants. It is and never will be your place to tell someone what to wear. If her outfit made you uncomfortable, don’t look at her.

Not only was this action blatantly sexist, but you made my friend uncomfortable in her own living environment. It is disgusting and unacceptable that she has to worry about people making comments about her appearance at all in life, let alone 10 feet from her bedroom.

While I recognize your intent probably wasn’t malicious, small actions of sexism are what motivate and encourage even bigger ones. While stupid comments like these may seem insignificant, they contribute to rape culture and violence against women.

To top off the night, we watched a 6.5 ft boy walk down the hall in his tiny tighty whities past you and the others in the lounge. You didn’t even glance up. This kind of singling out women even as a "joke" is not funny. It's harmful to the individual and is promoting rape culture as acceptable. So, if you would kindly keep your unsolicited opinions on our dress to yourself, that would be appreciated.

Sincerely, 

A friend of the girl you catcalled on Saturday night

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3

*name was changed for privacy

About The Author

Freshman at American University