It’s a daily occurrence for most women in today’s society, and happens to me personally most times I walk out of my house. Maybe a car drives past and the horn beeps, young lads, or maybe even a group of old perverted men are wolf whistling and cat calling down the street. Or maybe when we walk past the pub, and the group outside having a fag holla after us, pointing and jeering, offering to buy us a drink ‘darling’. It could even be the lad walking past us with his hands very obviously in his tacky boxers, copping a feel whilst sending us an over exaggerated wink.
The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter what we’re wearing, how our hair is, whether we’re wearing make up or not, or who we’re with. We could be in our uniform on the way to work, or dressed up in a short skirt and high heels making our way out for the night. Maybe we’re just nipping to the shop in converses and a onesie, having not even brushed our hair (that walk when you want to see no one you know, you know the one). We could be with our friends, on a date, with family members… but these animals shouting abuse at me know no shame, they carry on anyway.
And sometimes it’s not all ‘sexyyyyyy’, ‘come over here babe’ or just simply ‘Oiiiiii’. Sometimes it’s nasty. Really goddamn nasty. I remember one time I was walking down the street hand in hand with a guy I used to date, enjoying the sunshine, when some douchebag drives past and loudly shouts “Your girlfriend’s butters mate!”
Although to be honest, the fact he shouted “butters” says it all.
Sometimes, if we’re feeling particularly gutsy, we’ll shove our middle fingers in the air and shout a stream of abuse back. It’s like reclaiming our pride, standing up for ourselves, and for that small second, we feel invincible.
Let me just make this clear. It’s not a compliment. It’s not attractive. I have never met one girl who said ‘Oooooh he was a good looking bloke! What a gentlemen! Wish I had his number!’ Seriously fellas, what’s the result you’re looking for? Are you expecting us to drop our pants the second you toot your horn?!
Catcalling, wolf whistling, anything even remotely along these terms – is degrading. Leah Pickett said ‘Street harassment fuels rape culture, “blurring lines” to the point that many women can no longer tell the difference between a compliment and objectification.’ and I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve spoken about this with many different people, normally the lads don’t think it’s a big deal, and some people give me the response ‘Well if she’s wearing a short skirt then..’
Are you kidding me?
I should be able to walk down the street in just my underwear, and still not be subjected to this kind of behaviour.
Take this photo for example. Do I look like I really care whether my skirt is above my knees or not? I don’t stand there and think ‘Well my skirt is short so I guess I deserved that guy to grab his dick whilst kissing his teeth at me’. No. The problem is that guys are bought up in a culture where this misogynistic attitude is almost needed within their social groups, and the girls are bought up learning to accept it as normality in daily life. Not that I want to rant about this too much, I think this subject needs a whole post all on it’s own, but it’s accepting this behaviour that opens the window to rape.
Ladies, think about it. A guy shyly approaching you on the street, chatting to you for a while, maybe he invites your for a coffee in Starbucks round the corner. (If he says costa, leave. Unless there’s no other coffee place around, because even Costa coffee is better than no coffee, right?) Maybe he tells you you’re pretty, asks to add you on facebook because he knows your number is a personal thing – you don’t just give out your number to a stranger.
This is the kind of street treatment you deserve. It’s not threatening, it’s not aggressive, and it’s not forced upon you. If you want to leave, you can. Maybe you’re already taken, maybe you’re not in the mood, maybe he just doesn’t give you butterflies…but you can leave if you want to. This is a compliment, this is what makes you leave walking around smiling for the rest of the day, this is what makes you feel oh so fabulous.
Don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve.
This objectification is not acceptable, and it’s time that we take a stand.