Women in Thailand Reject Suggestion That They Dress Conservatively to Prevent Harassment

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The Songkran Festival celebrates the Thai New Year with water fights in the street. Women revelers have complained about sexual harassment at past festivals; before this year’s festivities, a Thai official told women to dress conservatively to avoid it. They’ve responded to the suggestion with their own hashtag about sexual harassment that echoes the #MeToo movement.

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The Bangkok Post reports that Sutthipong Chulcharoen, department director-general of the Department of Local Administration, announced that there would be alcohol-free zones for the celebrants, and suggested tourists dress “conservatively” during the event, especially women, so that “they do not fall victim to sex crimes.” This statement is offensive, of course, because it puts the onus on women for preventing their own harassment, rather than targeting the men who are doing the harassing.

In response, Thai-American model Cindy Bishop spoke out about Chulcharoen’s comments with a video that went viral, hashtagging it #DontTellMeHowToDress. According to Bloomberg, the hashtag has become far more popular than #MeToo in Thailand, and Bishop said that she thinks it’s because it’s a more general concept:

“Maybe the reason this is taking off faster is because they’re not coming out and accusing anyone,” Bishop said. “Our society is quite conservative, and for someone to come out and point a finger at someone who’s assaulted her is huge, I don’t know if we’re ready for it yet.”

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Non-profit organization Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, who approached Chulcharoen about the issue of sexual harassment at Songkran, they surveyed 1,650 women and girls, and found 59 percent of them had experienced harassment at the festival.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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DISCUSSION

urmomisnicelady
Your Mom Is A Nice Lady

I’m not a cat caller or harasser in any way. Not expecting a medal for being decent, just establishing my perspective that I’d obviously prefer men just not do this to women at all. I just feel like it’s really dumb to act like dressing conservatively doesn’t help even a little bit. Commercials are meant to put an item in your head so you’ll go out and buy it. Your clothing is an advertisement for yourself. If you dress like a librarian, people assume that you’re a stick in the mud. If you dress like an unkempt hobo, people assume that you’re homeless. If you dress like a harlot, people assume they can at least say something nasty because they think you’re dtf.

The problem and disconnect here is that people on the side of women being able to dress however they’d like (should be everyone), are stating how things SHOULD be, rather than how they are. People make assumptions based on looks and they do it without knowing basically instantaneously. So yeah, dressing conservatively because men are horn dogs is insane. It also will more than likely reduce the amount of people who cat call or harass. I’m sure “there was this one time” where it didn’t seem to help, but one time is an anomaly, not the rule.

Sorry that my fellow fellows can’t behave.