Do not think I don’t see you lurking on the corner of the sidewalk with your sweaty pals and mischievous grin. I quicken my pace as your piercing eyes give me an uncomfortable feeling. You attempt to make your presence known by hollering animalistic slurs. “Hey babe,” or “Smile for me,” you tell me. I focus my eyes in the direction of my destination and try to drown out your voice.
On some days you get angry when I don’t give you what you want. If I don’t acknowledge your existence or give you a smile, you become offended as if I’m expected to hand over my attention. On other days you follow me until you get what you want. “Where are you going sweetheart? Why are you ignoring me?” From your perspective, I owe you something. Walking to class may seem like a daunting task because of constant verbal harassment.
What do you get out of this situation, anyways? Do you think I’m going to be flattered by your so–called “compliments” and turn around to ask you for your phone number? Do you think I’m going to be honored that someone like you has given me the time of day? Are you disrespecting me to receive a high–five or “pat on the back” from your slimy friends? Think again. It’s immature, disrespectful, and a violation of my space, body, and privacy.
“But why do you dress up if you don’t want attention?” a close friend once asked. This question stabbed me right in the gut. Although she has also experienced street harassment herself, she still could not understand why her question was wrong. I wanted to pound my head against a wall. I believe she is a product of our society’s sexist reinforcement, which goes along the lines of asking rape victims, “Well, what were you wearing?” My response to my friend was, “Why is the choice of what I wear become the deciding factor of whether or not I’m going to be harassed today?”
Thus I ask you, are you going to teach your children that it’s normal to be disrespected and objectified? Do you want your daughters or sisters to know their value is based merely on whether or not they have a big butt and curvy hips? How would you feel if you found out a female you care about is being harassed on the streets, from someone like you, on a daily basis?
All I ask is that you act like a respectable human being, and keep your eyes and your comments to yourself. It’s distressing to know that women—and young girls—feel unsafe walking around their own neighborhood. Think before you speak.
Girl walking to class
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.