A few weeks ago, the Department of Justice issued a memo calling on law enforcement to consider wearing leather jackets when investigating domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes.
The memo was part of an effort to make the government more transparent, and it’s a step forward in a culture where people feel like they can say no to police harassment.
“When I was a child, I was told to wear a hat or a coat because I was being too sensitive,” Sarah McBride, a 23-year-old California resident, told BuzzFeed News.
“My mother told me I should wear leather jacket because I couldn’t be sensitive enough.”
The government memo, released on March 11, 2017, is a direct response to a rash of domestic violence incidents in which women have been the victims of assault or rape.
Since President Donald Trump took office, police in California have killed more than 1,000 people, and more than 30,000 were arrested on misdemeanor charges.
McBride said that the recent incidents are evidence that “we can be sensitive when we are dealing with violence.”
But that isn’t true of all of us.
She said that she has encountered a wide range of responses when she has asked police to not arrest her for being a woman.
She has been pulled over on her way home from a grocery store, she has been asked to wear the wrong clothes, she’s been asked if she has a knife, and she’s even been accused of stealing something.
“It was really frustrating to me because I didn’t have any other option than to not answer the question,” she said.
In the past, McBride has said that it’s her decision whether to wear leather.
But that was before she found a place that sells her leather jacket.
She told BuzzFeed that she’s not a big fan of the leather jacket, especially when it comes to its price tag, which she believes is prohibitively expensive.
“If you want something for the price of a pair of jeans, you can get that,” McBride said.
“I really like the idea of making it affordable.”
She said that even though the leather jackets can be pricey, they make it easier for people to leave abusive relationships.
“A lot of times, I don’t feel comfortable leaving,” McBrien said.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m a victim.
Sometimes I feel that I’m the one being victimized,” she added.
“It’s hard to feel safe when you’re in the middle of a relationship and you’re being told you’re a bad person, but it’s also hard to have someone tell you, ‘It’s a good idea to not wear that.'”
While McBride may not be one of the “victims,” she does believe that women should be able to choose whether or not to wear it.
“I think that if we have a system that says, ‘We’re going to make sure that if you’re wearing this leather jacket that you don’t get arrested, you’re not charged with a crime, you don.t have to worry about that,’ that’s a really good way to make it clear to people that this is a way to have a conversation about why women are being treated that way,” she told BuzzFeed.
But not everyone agrees.
In response to the DOJ memo, women’s rights activists have launched an online petition called “No Leather on Leather,” which aims to push back against the “no-cost” argument for women’s protection.
It has garnered more than 2,500 signatures, according to its creator, Rachel Paltrow, who said the campaign is designed to encourage women to “choose what’s right for them.”
“There are people who feel that leather jackets are expensive and we shouldn’t have to pay for them,” Paltrows told BuzzFeed, “but they are not the only ones who feel this way.
Women are not just a group of people who want to be protected, but women of color, LGBTQIA+ people, trans people, people with disabilities, and people with all kinds of different experiences.
So when you start to say, ‘No leather on leather,’ you’re really saying, ‘Yes, I can’t afford to buy this jacket.'”
Paltrow said that while leather jackets “do make women feel safer,” they are only a part of a larger culture that treats women differently.
“There’s an assumption that women aren’t human, that women are inferior, that they don’t have agency or power over their bodies,” she explained.
“The reality is that if people feel that they can’t say no because they feel uncomfortable wearing a leather jacket in a police station, they’re not going to feel that way.”
McBride’s experiences are typical of other women who have faced discrimination in the police department and in society as a whole.
A law enforcement officer recently told her that she would never arrest her if she wore a leather coat, she said, and police officers told her she should “just say no.”