I Wore a High-Slit Dress and Got Catcalled by a Bunch of Women


Walking was even harder. Even if there wasn’t wind to contend with, trying to walk at my normal New York pace made my skirt blow backwards, prying the slit apart to reveal my thong in the front. I tried walking slower, but it was still an issue. Honestly, is there a way to wear this dress without a wardrobe malfunction? Because I’m running out of options.

Jaya slit dress 1

Kathryn Wirsing

Stairs were completely out of the question. Anyone walking up toward me was in for a full crotch shot.

I was getting a little nervous at this point, because all the while I noticed some men leering, and one made a comment about my body. I expected that to happen, because I’ve lived through 30 New York City summers and have gotten much worse from men (like the infamous Man Rubbing His Erection Into My Thigh On The 1 Train experience of 2012), but the looks and whispers started to make my silly endeavor feel a little more shameful. I normally have no problem in revealing clothing (as my decision to even embark on this ridiculous task proves). I’m here for low cut tops and booty shorts and never worry if I let a nip slip on the beach. But the stares and smiles and lingering the dress inspired suddenly made me very aware of my body, and in that moment, made me wish it didn’t exist.

But before I could run back to my office to throw on an oversized sweatshirt and let my heart rate slow down, women came to my rescue. By catcalling me. Standing on the sidewalk, I heard a woman call out “Oooh, look at those legs, girl!” Later, another one simply said “you look amazing.” Four or five times, women called out compliments, and it completely boosted my self-esteem.

Jaya slit dress 5

That woman said I looked good!

Kathryn Wirsing

It’s weird to think that the same behavior that shut me down coming from men could lift me up coming from women, but there’s gender dynamics for you. Catcalling may be inspired by attraction, but it’s about power. When a man catcalls a woman he’s enforcing generations of men wielding power over women, letting you know that he’s watching, he’s assessed your body, and he could take it if he wanted. Even if that’s not his intention, the entire history of gender relations puts it in that context.

It’s weird to think that the same behavior that shut me down coming from men could lift me up coming from women, but there’s gender dynamics for you.

The women catcalling me probably weren’t doing it out of sexual attraction, but even if they were, their comments inherently had a different tone. We are on an equal playing field. To be frank, no matter what a woman shouts at me, I’m never afraid she’s going to follow me home and kill me. Instead, their comments reminded me that while, yes, this dress was going to get me stares, they weren’t trying to claim ownership. My body was mine. The street was ours. I didn’t have to let men claim the right to public space.

I have decided that there is no such thing as a “wardrobe malfunction” when it comes to the super high slit. This is how these dresses are designed to function, and anyone who wears them on a red carpet knows exactly what they’re doing. After all, what’s the risk of a cooch shot when the ones of your bare thigh are so incredible? We all make sacrifices.

KATHRYN WIRSING