I Have the Right to Walk

I walk a lot in my daily life and a very often occurrence in my walks are men catcalling me. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a “bad town” or a middle/upper class neighborhood. It doesn’t matter if it’s day time or in the evening.  Men on the street will call me for my attention. I have often been suggested to just ignore it, but how long can you ignore an issue before you recognize it as one? I have been screamed at, touched while walking down the street and even followed by guys that were seeking to get my reaction. The sad part is I know I’m not alone in these occurrences, but I hope bring awareness to this issue and fear of walking alone.

In our society, women have a reputation of overacting to social issues, with their activism against street harassment seen as “nagging” or “complaining” about being “flirted” with. Men who cat-call often get aggressive if their feelings of sexually adoration aren’t returned. “You should be happy that I said you were sexy,” or, “you’re not that hot anyways,” followed by more insults, are common responses to female rejection.

One of the earliest memories I have, is my Mom teaching me to put a key in between my fingers so I could use them as weapons if I was ever attacked. As an adult, my parents and peers often tell me to not go anywhere alone, as a precaution for keeping me safe. Women are expected to have a companion, or rather,  a chaperon at night. This doesn’t change the fact that even with large groups of people, I have been catcalled.

I shouldn’t have to worry if my skirt is too short or if my shirt is cut too low so that I can be safe to go out in public. It is not my responsibility to not get attacked. We live in a country where girls get kicked out of school and refused an education because the hem of their shorts don’t reach the tips of their fingers. While, the young boys who get too distracted by bare legs in their classroom get to stay in school. While the educational system believes that it’s doing a good deed here, I respectfully disagree. Young women are being deprived of proper education and being taught that their clothing choices are to blame for harassment and assault. The truth is that I’ve been harassed in provocative outfits AND proper office attire. I refuse to monitor what I wear in order to repel cat-calling. It’s proven that my clothing is not to blame.

If a guy falls asleep at a party most would fear a penis drawn on his face. If a girl falls asleep at a party most would fear a penis harassing her. We are told to not go out too late alone or to not even jog alone because of the fear of catcalls or the unthinkable. Women spend most of their days trying to avoid the outcome of what could happen if they aren’t careful and this mentality needs to stop.

Gentlemen, if your friend or if even you have screamed out the window to a girl or stopped to turn your head to stare at her “assets”, just end the humiliation. I can assure you that you may even get a date or a positive reaction by simply treating her as an equal instead of just being there for your pleasure. If someone is not interested in speaking or flirting back with you, respect their wishes without harming them. Women in public are not here for your enjoyment or pleasure but because we exist as equal as to and should be respected as such.

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5 thoughts on “I Have the Right to Walk

  1. Reblogged this on Dances with Feminism and commented:
    I absolutely agree with this post. Women should not be responsible for keeping men’s “uncontrollable” sexuality at bay. We shouldn’t have to worry about what we wear when we leave the house alone. Our safety or our education should not depend on the length of our skirts when men are free to dress however they like without fear. We shouldn’t need companions to walk us down the street. We deserve to be equals.

  2. I love this post, it reminds me of a video I saw recently on why men street harrass in the first place. The overall answer was that they didn’t think it was harrassment at all, this is where the problem resides. The lack of sufficient education on this topic is the biggest hurdle we have to jump, teaching the difference between flirting respectfully and harrassment not only to guys, but also women so they know when it is happening to them (many women think this behavior is ok and respond to it, which makes it harmful for the rest of us).

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