I am writing this while waiting at AT&T. Walking into the store, through the mall parking lot, I saw some men walking through a row of cars towards me. I looked forward. I have been conditioned to look forward, walk with purpose. Don’t make eye contact.
I hear them yell after me, “Hey, how you doin’? You are attractive. I think you dropped something.”
I walked forward. I didn’t look their way. The last time I acknowledged a man’s gaze in a parking lot he exposed himself to me. I was traumatized.
So I walked straight. I thought about yelling at them but I couldn’t muster up the strength. I was alone and, unfortunately, I fear for my safety constantly. If I talk back, what will they do? Two big guys against me. I fear for my safety.
Now I am waiting in the store and feel dirty. I feel unclean. Street harassment is not a compliment. “Hollering” at me does not make me feel pretty. I do not take it as a compliment and I’m sure most women don’t. The topic of street harassment has become a topic in the mainstream. More and more people are speaking up and saying enough is enough.
This video, along with many other videos and photo campaigns, have opened a dialogue about the topic.
The woman in the above video, Shoshana B. Roberts, is now receiving threats for her participation in the video. She doesn’t feel safe. Just reading through the comments section of the video will turn your stomach. I feel sick just reading them. People complaining about the women, women sticking up for her then they get attacked. Where does it end? When you comment on a video like this with insults towards women or you tell them to smile you are further demonstrating the point they are making!
Cat calling isn’t a compliment. It is rude. It makes us feel self-conscious and dirty. It is an intrusion on our right to just be. I do not walk around to please others. I do not dress the way I do to entertain anyone. Women are not just sexual objects. It ISN’T alright. We are people with minds, feelings, opinions, and yes, bodies. We should be respected.
Have you ever been cat called? How did it make you feel?