FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

I’m Not Your Shorty

It wasn’t the first time.

Like most women—84 percent across 22 countries, in fact– I have been catcalled by random men many times.  In a widely shared 2014 experiment, a woman in New York City received 100 catcalls in just ten hours.  But last night was definitely the scariest I have ever experienced. This man amped up his harassment, not only hollering a barrage of “compliments” but following me as well as I walked through an apartment complex.  Surely he felt quite clever at the uniquely revolting ways that he described my body and the things he planned to do to me. His amusement at my fear was clear from both his commentary and his demeanor.  I am both proud and sad to say I said nothing and responded with a hasty retreat. Upon arriving home, described what happened to my 12-year-old daughter.

I feel good that I sensed that the potential danger with this one was greater than with the typical degenerate that shouts out at women.  Some women who have been sexually assaulted by strangers report that they sensed something was off but chose to ignore their feelings. And, I think it was really important to discuss what he did and how I felt with my daughter, who, unfortunately, already has experience with guys hooting at her.  A 2014 survey found that 71 percent of women experience street harassment for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17. More than half of the reporting women had been fondled or groped on the street.

What makes me sad, though, is the power this individual ended up having over me. He didn’t change what he was doing or where he was going last night. I did. He doesn’t have that scary experience as background the next time he goes somewhere that is new to him. I do. He didn’t have to hold his tongue out of fear of escalating the situation. I did.

Like so many women, I wish I had felt comfortable telling him how unwelcome and repulsive his comments were. I wish I didn’t have to prepare my child for how to handle these things, or mentally ready myself for harassment before I walk somewhere.  I wish that women didn’t have to change their lives in any way for fear that someone will do worse than shout out obscenities.

One way to address catcalling is to criminalize it. Belgium and Portugal have laws about street harassment and issue fines to offenders, while other countries like Canada and Argentina use existing harassment laws to address it. The U.S. could do the same, but generally does not.  Nor do I necessarily believe that these laws will deter men from harassing women on the streets, although it is a sign that the government recognizes the scope of the problem and the seriousness of the issue.

More important than criminalizing catcalling, however, is changing the way men are taught to view and talk about women. We need to teach young men that hollering at women just isn’t OK. That a genuine compliment is always nice, but a litany of adjectives to describe women’s anatomy shouted from across the road is not. That they might feel quite cute when they compete with each other to offer up new harangues, but that women do not find them at all witty for doing so.  We need to teach young men that true power isn’t about making women fear you. Such conversations need to happen in homes, schools, churches, and other institutions.  And they need to happen often, starting at a young age.  It’s time we put some more focus on the daily microaggressions that women must endure, rather than treating them as if they’re an inevitable fact of life if you were born with a vagina.

More articles by:

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail