Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I ain't no hollaback girl!

Women get catcalled everyday; it happens. "Anywhere between 80 percent and 98 percent of women report persistent, aggressive street harassment" (x) A quick look into the tumblr tag "catcalling" will show you how often it happens and how uncomfortable it makes us.
When I get dressed in the morning, a few things happen inside my head: how much time I have before I have to leave, what I'm going to be doing that day, how long I'll be out of the house, the weather and how I'm feeling that day. 

Things I don't worry about: if anyone thinks I look good enough for them to yell it out to me in the middle of the street. 
"While there is no one clear definition of street harassment, a few things come to mind. It includes both verbal and nonverbal behavior, such as "wolf-whistles, leers, winks, grabs, pinches, catcalls and street remarks"; the remarks are frequently sexual in nature and comment evaluatively on a woman's physical appearance or on her presence in public. The comments range from "Hello, baby" to vulgar suggestions and outright threats" (x).
I've been catcalled on the road, inside my car by a truck full of guys and then followed for a few blocks. I fail to see how that is supposed to be a compliment.

Yes, there are some genuine compliments to something I'm wearing or how I look nice that day, but not every "compliment" is intended that way.

Elizabeth Kissling identifies certain characteristics of street harassment:  1) a female target, and 2) a male harasser, 3) who are strangers and have, 4) in a public space, 5) a face-to-face encounter, 6) solely on the basis of the woman's gender, and 7) the content (remark and/or act) of which is not intended to spark conversation or mutual The last element is worth elaboration. As has been noted by scholar Deirdre Davis, most forms of street harassment are not words or actions that would engender mutual interaction (x).
Street harassment is intended to objectify and humiliate a woman.  Laniya's article later mentions that a "thank you" is not intended to be a response from the woman that is being catcalled. In fact, it could result in increased hostility because women are conditioned to just walk away from it and saying "thank you" is a direct rebellion against that conditioning. 

What I'm saying is, it's okay to voice your discomfort about catcalling to other people. Also, don't catcall. 

If you're with someone who is catcalling, call them out for it. If someone wants to actually give a compliment, there are much better ways to go about it. 

If all that anyone ever remembers about my blogs, I hope it's this. Let's make the world feel a little bit nicer and safer. Maybe one day I won't walk around by myself and feel the need to look down and avoid eye contact with every man I see out of fear of being harassed. 


Post a Comment