skirt shorts are going to get you raped. That’s the message NYPD officers are sending to women in Park Slope, Brooklyn:
Earlier this evening, at around 7:30 p.m., I was on my way home from the gym, keys in hand, not talking on my cell phone, very aware of my surroundings. I passed a cop and he asked if I would stop and talk to him. He then asked two women who were wearing dresses to stop and talk to him. Here is our conversation:
Cop: “Do you know what’s been going on in this neighborhood?”
Me: “Yes, a man has attacked several women.”
Cop: “Do you know what he’s looking for?”
Lady: “…Young women walking alone?”
Cop: “And how do you know that? Someone told you that?”
Lady: “No, I’ve been reading about this in the news.”
Cop: (points to my gym clothes) “Your shorts are pretty short.” (points at women’s dresses) “Kind of showing some skin. Do you think that might make this guy angry, think he can get easy access?”
Me: “I really appreciate that cops are out in the neighborhood, but I’m coming home from the gym, and it’s hot outside. Women should be able to wear shorts and dresses without it being seen as an excuse to be attacked.”
Cop: “I’m just making sure you’re aware of what’s going on. Girls like you are targets.”
Me: “Thank you for being out here, but I would really prefer if you caught the criminal.”
But maybe it’s just one officer, right? Nope!
Asked whether officers were warning women against wearing shorts or skirts, the New York City Police Department responded in no time.
“Officers are not telling women what not to wear—there’s a TV series that does that,” quipped Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne in an email. “They are simply pointing out that as part of the pattern involving one or more men that the assailant(s) have targeted women wearing skirts.”
The rapist is targeting women who are wearing skirts, so NYPD officers are warning women who are wearing… shorts. Sure. Also the rapist is targeting people who appear to have vaginas, so maybe people who appear to have vaginas should just leave their bodies at home. What’s wrong with that advice? I’m just looking out for you.
I don’t live in Park Slope, but I’m in an adjacent neighborhood, and for a while there were a string of muggings nearby. The mugger targeted men — most of whom were wearing pants with pockets, in which they kept their wallets and cell phones for easy access. And yet I didn’t hear of one police officer stopping a bepantsed man and “simply pointing out that as part of the pattern.” Weird. I’m sure that was just a departmental oversight.