Have you seen this hashtag? If you haven’t, you may want to check it out before reading this here bliggity blog so that you know what in the heck I’m even talking about. I’m glad the movement finally has some feet, but good Lord WHY do we even have to say it?! So here’s my take on it, as a woman, as one who walks this path every day of her life, as someone who has been preaching #yesallwomen for over a decade. Because I’m fired up.
I’m fired up after being harassed, again, for the ten thousandth time, by a man because I dared to be a woman out in public. I’m fired up because there’s NOTHING I can do to stop the harassment. There is no response that these particular men will accept that doesn’t get me either followed around and called names or hit on. There’s nothing I can do that will allow me to carry on my daily tasks in peace. I’ve been down this road 100 times. We all have. #yesALLwomen
I walked into the grocery store (Yes, ladies, the grocery store isn’t even a safe haven for us, and for the most part, it’s only full of US.) I saw the man hovering by the front door as I approached. I saw him eyeballing me (by me, I mean my ass) the second I got out of my car. I had a decision to make. A decision I have to make every time I see this look in some dude’s eye and I know he’s going to “hey, girl” me while looking at my breasts as though I am privileged to be ogled by such a specimen. Do I feel like being called a bitch today? If not, then I’ll have to be polite and say “hi” back when he tries to make contact. I know the consequences of this are that he’s going to try to get in my pants, because CLEARLY I have shown interest in his penis with my polite response. I can also choose to ignore him, meaning he will then call me a bitch or, most likely, since he appears to be doing nothing in particular, follow me around in order to make sure I know that I’m missing out and that I’m a stupid whore. After assessing the situation, I chose the polite version. The guy wasn’t doing anything, so I knew that no matter what, he was going to follow me (he did), but he was also alone, so he didn’t have anyone to impress, so maybe I would get off easy.
No such luck. His four buddies were waiting for him inside the store. Let the ignorant games begin. *sigh* I just want to get my groceries and get out of here. My kids are on summer break and have been at one another’s throats all day, so I wasn’t gonna drag all 3 of them to the store, which meant I had to go after bedtime. It was late. I was tired. Just let me get my milk and eggs and be on my way, MFer.
He stalked me through the produce section leaning back and making disgusting spittle noises and saying “damn” over and over. Wonderful. He sounded like the Bot when she’s stuffed too much apple sauce in her mouth and she’s trying to slurp it all back in. I flourished my wedding ring. His buddies laughing at my obvious discomfort.
I yawned as I walked down the juice aisle. It’s 9 pm and I’m 30 minutes from home loading up on Juicy Juice after what amounts to 2 months of OT for a stay at home mom (summer BREAK?) A dude in the aisle says, “You look tired!” He’s making eye contact and smiling pleasantly and NOT staring at my ass when speaking to me. SWEET! So I smile back and say, “Yeah, just trying to get this done. Summer break isn’t a break for moms.” He chuckles a little and tells me to have a good night. Too late. I realize that jerk face is right behind me and has seen me talking to another dude. His heckles are raised, my friends, and raised heckles are a terrible thing to waste. Polite, non-leering man received some of my attention; therefore, touch my penis mcgee has decided that I owe him some as well, only he’s not going to make normal conversation and let me go about my business, OH NO! He is not.
I could barely understand most of his mumbles as I nodded and inched away through ten minutes of questions on whether I am married (yes, you eyed my ring several times), and “how married” as though there are degrees of married (hint: there aren’t.) There was something about working on the railroad and a Mercedes and a Jaguar and he has 5 kids and here are their names tattooed on his arms and he’s divorced and whatever. And then, “it’s too bad you’re married, or you could get my number.”
O.M.G. Seriously? No one is THAT douchey! I almost wish we were in the pharmacy department so that I could grab a box of douche and physically hand it to him while walking away. He tried 3 more times to get my number, saying I may need someone to talk to. Really? Are you a psychologist? Because I think I need one after talking to you. I also probably just got crabs by being in your vicinity, so thanks for that.
I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. But it’s not. I deal with this a few times a month. Can I walk down the street without being cat called out of a car window? Can I take my baby for a stroll or walk a dog or even get the mail without at least weekly harassment from a man in a passing car? Nope. I can’t. Not at my biggest, not at my smallest, not even when I gave myself a hideous boy haircut and wore only men’s clothing. I can’t walk down the street without being cat called and having inappropriate comments about my body. Because I am a woman. In public. And so I deserve it somehow. We’ve all experienced it. #yesALLwomen
And there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
Or is there?
Dudes. My good men out there. Hear my plea! TEACH YOUR SONS THAT THIS IS NOT OK! Cat calling women is NOT ok! We don’t LIKE it. It’s NOT a compliment. Call it what it is. It’s showing off. Because no man alone in a car cat calls women. It’s the man in the passenger seat making a woman uncomfortable for the benefit of his car full of friends who find her discomfort amusing. GOOD DUDES, if your friends are cat calling women or harassing them in the grocery store, or the library or the bar, then tell them to CUT IT OUT! When you stop making them feel like the coolest POS in the room for it, THEN things will change! When you see your buddy staring at a woman’s breasts while she’s obviously uncomfortable and not interested, a, “Hey, man, let’s go over here and grab a beer, you’re making her uncomfortable” would do the 50% of us with a vagina a heck of a lot of good.
Teach your sons that it is perfectly OK if a woman isn’t interested in him. There are 3.5 BILLION of us on this planet. One of us is going to like him. Teach him that going back to his buddies and calling her a bitch because she DARED to shun his affections is completely inappropriate. Teach him that if his friend is rejected by a woman, that’s ok, too, and if his buddy comes back and calls her names, to STAND UP FOR HER. She has every right to not be ok being leered at and hit on or have her marriage or relationship questioned.
Stop letting your friends follow women around and eyeballing their bodies or making comments about their bodies, especially when the woman is just trying to go about her day! Stop laughing at our discomfort! Stop making your pal feel like the more uncomfortable he makes us, the cooler he is.
HELP US! WE can’t change this alone. We need your help. Man the eff up and do something about this!
If you’ve got the stomach for something a little more graphic, click and watch this. Welcome to a day in our world.