Ladies - how many of you were catcalled yesterday while you were out walking around? My guess is that a lot of you were, and if not yesterday, then sometime this week.
Just yesterday I experienced several instances of street harassment (because, let's be honest, that's what catcalling is - it's harassment and it SUCKS).
I went for a run yesterday morning, and - even with my music blaring - heard one guy yell, "Ow ow - looking hot today!" Another guy honked at me. And another, oh-so-charming fellow told me, "If you get tired, let me know and I'll carry you home."
Um yeah, I'd rather run myself to total exhaustion than let you carry me anywhere creeper.
This was at 11 AM and I was running in shorts and a tank, and I had on ridiculous looking calf sleeves. Plus, I had just put in hair dye (and was waiting to wash it out until after my run), so purple sweat was running down my face. I did not look "hot."
Later in the day I did some shopping on Melrose Ave. before heading to work. I was wearing flip-flops, cute but casual tennis shorts, and a black, cropped tee-shirt. Nothing crazy. There was more honking, and more shouts of "hey baby" and "sexy."
What's sad - and scary - is that I've gotten used to the catcalls. I've learned to tune them out, and consider them "normal." And I'm worried that other woman are doing the same.
Newsflash: they are not normal - they're rude, degrading, and scary, and completely unacceptable.
Anytime someone yells at me out a car window, or follows me along the street trying to talk to me, my privacy is being invaded in a frightening and inappropriate way.
These guys have no right to objectify me and then - what's worse - expect me to LIKE it.
When I don't respond to these catcalls, more often that not, I'm greeted with disdain or anger.
"What, you don't like me?"
"You're not going to smile? Smile!"
"I'm complimenting you!"
Heaven forbid I actually respond with what these assholes deserve: my own anger. What I wouldn't give to tell these guys to fuck off. But I don't, because - honestly - I'm scared. I'm not a very imposing figure, and no one is going to think that - if they wanted to physically assault me - I'd be much of a threat. I'm scared that, if I were to tell catcallers exactly how I feel, I'd end up in an extremely dangerous situation. And that feeling of helplessness freakin' sucks. I want to stand up for myself, I want to right the wrongs that are inflected on women, but I also don't want to risk assault. I'm a fairly sweet, benefit-of-the-doubt-giving person, and I hate confrontation. But catcalls and degrading commentary make my blood boil and my middle finger twitch. Every now and then I'll give someone the middle finger, but I always get a pit in my stomach, fearing what they might do in retaliation. My strategy now is to mostly ignore the come-on's and rude comments, while trying to raise awareness. I want women to know that it's not okay that they're treated this way, and I went men to know that it's not okay to catcall, honk, and wink at women like they're pieces of meat.
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to address catcalling when it happens to me, but I'm going to keep writing about it and urging the people in my life to spread the word that street harassment is so incredibly wrong. If any of you gals (or guys) have suggestions about how to deal with street harassment, I'd love to hear them!
Also, f you haven't seen the video by Hollaback, which shows a woman (wearing jeans and a crew neck tee shirt and tennis shoes), walking around NY for ten hours and receiving over 100 catcalls, you need to watch it ASAP. This video was an incredible idea, and it is a great way to raise awareness in regards to this issue. Additionally, I just read the other day that the woman in the video has since received numerous threats to her well-being, which only further proves how dangerous and outrageous catcalling is (and how abominable human beings can be).