The Struggle is Real
I know. I know. We’re tired of hearing about catcalling. We’ve seen the video of the pretty little white girl being harassed by all of those black and hispanic men. Some of us have even seen a video of women of color speaking about their experiences, only to have a white man interrupt mid-interview and ask for a kiss.
But has it happened to you?
Here’s the thing. I grew up in NYC. Brooklyn to be exact. So I get what it is to live in a large city and be whistled at, taunted, cussed out, followed by a car, my hand or other body part grabbed by a random stranger or worry about if simply returning a polite hello or smile will somehow be misinterpreted. This happened from the time I got my breasts at the age of 12. I skipped the training bras and went straight into a C cup.
Imagine all of the young, inexperienced girls out there whose bodies have developed far faster than their maturity. Imagine them having to deal with this. I literally heard an older man in his 40’s say to my mother, when she explained I was 13, that “after 12 is lunch.” Basically telling her that I’m fair game…in front of me.
Don’t get it twisted. I’ve had females catcall me. I had one woman ask me the time and then try to start a conversation. I just wasn’t interested and kindly told her so. She decided to grab my hand and try to pull me back as I walked away. Yeah, no. Let’s just say, she was rather sorry she didn’t just let me go while she had the chance.
This is probably why I’ve developed a great bitchy resting face and big sign on my forehead that says “Just Fucking Try It.” I’ve also learned to pick my battles. Yes, women like to be told they’re beautiful, but there’s a fine line between genuinely complimenting a woman and stripping her naked with your words.
Good Afternoon, Sweetheart.
All phrases that have elicited a polite response from me. Maybe a nod, a small smile or a good day.
Only to have these phrases turn into
Can I get a hug?
Do you have a man? Because he shouldn’t let you walk in the street alone. Someone might try to steal you.
You look delicious today. Do you taste that way?
God, I would kill to see that every morning! Those are some gorgeous lips.
Am I bringing this on myself by responding to someone saying hello?
I am being as polite as my mother raised me to be, by responding to someone speaking to me. Most men start off with innocuous phrases that quickly turn into something far uglier and almost sinister. This doesn’t only happen in big cities like NYC. It happened in a rest area down in rural Georgia. It happened in Madrid leaving a restaurant, coincidentally with my mother again (she also happens to look very much like an older sister). It happened in Paris as I walked through the Louvre. It happened in Lisbon walking into the hotel lobby. It happened in Cambridge, when my lips were “complimented” by a random man who was watching me speak on the phone to my sister.
It happens everywhere. And it will continue to happen until we teach our boys that it’s not okay.
As recently as last week, I had a friend of mine become so scared of a man who stated that he had been watching her everyday. He tried to strike a conversation, but it was creepy. He followed her even after she declared her disinterest. He frightened her to the point that she’s worried if he will try to harm her, especially because he know where she lives. He happens to be in her neighborhood and she sees him everyday. Should she have to change her route to work, keeping ever vigilant, just to assure that he will leave her alone?
No, she shouldn’t. But she will.
Don’t dress that way and they will leave you alone. (Shorts and a tank top in 100 degree weather is more than acceptable.)
Don’t make eye contact and they won’t bother with you. (I’m sorry, but that’s false. I will stare them dead in their eyes and most of them shift uncomfortably and look away from me.)
Travel with others, especially another man. (Yeah, no. I hear- “Is that your man? Baby, you can do better! Come talk to me!)
Ignore them. (This one can be very dangerous in certain situations. Sometimes, you’re followed, taunted, they try to grab you, or they get their friends in on the action.)
I have been approached by men, women, black, white, hispanic, asian, big, small, short, tall, single, married, and all the other varieties of people in this world. I have been told hello and had a respectful conversation follow. I’ve been in a car at a stop light and had someone try to get my number, only to have them scream profanities and follow me when I declined.
Because I’m the one who’s a stuck up ugly bitch because I didn’t want to talk to you. It has nothing to do with you thinking I should be honored that you told me I was beautiful and you would make me your wife and I’d never have to work again.
Just stop. If someone did this to your mother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, girlfriend or whomever- how would you feel?
We can already feel you leering at us, stripping us with your eyes and raping us with your minds. Stop embarrassing yourselves by being rejected in front of your friends and feeling the need to save face. You’re being stupid and idiotic.
We are not stuck up. We are not thinking we’re better than anyone. We are not trying to insult you.
We are simply scared.