While scrolling through Tik Tok, you may come across someone mentioning the term, “subway shirt.” The name for the subway shirt was created by 24-year-old New York City local, Claire Wenrick, who posted a video showing her putting a large baggy t-shirt over her actual outfit. The entire idea behind the subway shirt is wearing a baggy t-shirt over whatever outfit a woman is planning to wear out in order to avoid harassment on the subway. It’s an attempt to make women attract less attention from potentially dangerous men. While the subway shirt is meant to be a tactic to keep women safe, it puts out a negative message on how to combat the deeper issue of harassment on public transportation.
Although the subway shirt just recently began trending on Tik Tok, it brings attention to an issue that has been around for a long time and continues to get worse. The subway shirt started because of the harassment in the New York City subway, but it has caught the attention of women all over the world who feel they have to do the same thing when using public transportation.
Women feeling like it’s necessary to wear a baggy shirt just to get from one point to the other without being harassed just proves how brutal harassment can get on public transportation. Women should not have to change the way they dress in order to protect themselves. To think that there are so many women who put on an outfit that they feel confident in only to have to cover it up with a t-shirt is a reflection on how society puts the blame and responsibility on the woman for being harassed. It would be more beneficial to focus on the person doing the harassing than the victim of the harassment.
The idea of the subway shirt has certainly brought an important topic to the surface and is causing lots of debates on the internet over whether it is right or not. The main priority is for women to feel safe. If putting a baggy t-shirt over a dress the next time you go out makes you feel safer, that is completely ok to do so; however, hopefully one day you won’t have to feel that way. If you ever feel unsafe on a subway or just walking around by yourself, a Viola volunteer is there to talk with you until you make it home. Viola believes women should not have to fear going places alone or using public transportation by themselves.
Article by Valerie Hudson