We live in a society that glorifies sexual assault to a degree that when I was a teenager I asked myself whether something was wrong with me for not being groped in the streets. The pride with which my classmates spoke of how apparently every random male hit on them made me wonder whether I was just too ugly to be desired. Something is rotten when harassment becomes the means young girls are taught to determine their self-worth with.
street harassment is really a luck-of-the-draw style phenomenon, the levels you’re exposed to depend on where you live and who you’re around. on MULTIPLE occasions i have seen men accidentally cat-call other men out of cars, simply because the men on the street had long hair and were seen from behind (and assumed to be women).
on the flip side, i know that women with short hair are publicly “hit on” less often, because their presentation is considered less feminine and they are therefore perceived as more intimidating.
you have to remember that street harassment is not about trying to make connections with other people, it’s about affirming a power structure and reminding women (or queer people, or fat people, or POCs) that we are below the harasser. that we don’t have a right to space.
it’s really not about compliments! real compliments are much rarer unfortunately. apparently it’s easier for people to yell “nice tits!” at a stranger than to say something kind and well thought out to somebody. anyway, if you’ve never been harassed, i really hope you don’t see this as somehow a failure about yourself because it reeeaallly isn’t. you can just chalk it up to chance.
"In San Francisco last year, a man stabbed a woman in the face and arm after she didn’t respond positively to his sexually harassing her on the street.
In Bradenton, Fla., a man shot a high school senior to death after she and her friends refused to perform oral sex at his request.
In Chicago, a scared 15-year-old was hit by a car and died after she tried escaping from harassers on a bus.
Again, in Chicago, a man grabbed a 19-year-old walking on a public thoroughfare, pulled her onto a gangway and assaulted her.
In Savannah, Georgia, a woman was walking alone at night and three men approached her. She ignored them, but they pushed her to the ground and sexually assaulted her.
In Manhattan, a 29-year-old pregnant woman was killed when men catcalling from a van drove onto the sidewalk and hit her and her friend.
Last week, a runner in California — a woman — was stopped and asked, by a strange man in a car, if she wanted a ride. When she declined he ran her over twice."
FUCK YOU if you think that street harassment is a “compliment” or “no big deal” or that it’s “irrational” of us to be afraid because “what’s actually gonna happen.” Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you some more.
This is terrorism.
"I suspect it’s difficult for men to imagine a world in which their bodies have long been inextricably linked to their value as an individual, and that no matter how encouraging your parents were or how many positive female role models you had or how self-confident you feel, there is an ever-present pressure that creeps in from all sides, whispering in your ear that you are your body and your body defines you. A world where, from the time of pubescence on, you can feel the constant and palpable weight of the male gaze, and not just from your male peers but from teachers and sports coaches and the fathers of the children you baby-sit, people you’re supposed to respect and trust and look up to, and that first realization that you are being looked at in that way is the beginning of a self-consciousness that you will be unable to shake for the rest of your life.Even if they are never verbalized, the rules of bodily conduct for females become clear early on: when school administrators reprimand you for the inch of midriff that shows when you lift your hands straight in the air or youth group leaders tell you that the sight of your unintentional cleavage is what causes godly young men to fall, you learn that your body is dangerous and shameful and that it’s your responsibility to cloister it in a way that is acceptable to everyone else. You learn that your body is a topic of public debate that everyone is entitled to weigh in on, from a male classmate telling you that those jeans make your ass look huge to the male-dominated United States Congress dictating the parameters that rape must fall within to be considered legitimate. To be a woman, and to live life in a woman’s body, is to be held to a set of comically paradoxical standards that make you constantly second-guess yourself and jump through a million hoops in pursuit of an impossible perfection."
A catcall is entirely about reminding you that you are not yours. The purity myth is entirely about reminding you that you are not yours. The fetishization of female purity in a world where catcalls are an acceptable form of communication telegraphs one thing very clearly:
“Women, stop sexualizing yourselves—that’s our job, and you’re taking all the fun out of it.”
The sexualization of women is only appealing if it’s nonconsensual. Otherwise it’s “sluttiness,” and sluttiness is agency and agency is threatening."