I often wonder what men think about when they're walking down the street. Are they ever afraid at night? Until recently, I didn't even think about what I thought about while walking down the street. Now that I walk three blocks to work, I've been thinking about what I think about quite a bit. (Try saying that five times fast.) Most of the time, my very one-track mind is focused on carrying myself with grace in my stilettos and not wiping out, which has absolutely happened on a couple of different occasions. Lately, it's been going a little something like this: Left, right, left, right-- stay on that invisible line but don't look down-- left, right-- I wonder if that place has dairy-free fro-yo-- DANG! Almost walked into someone-- and if often interrupted by something like this, "AYOO, MOMMA GOT A CABOOSE." Cue the long, exasperated sigh. Yes. Street harassment. I chose that particular one because it was stupid, childish, and the least vulgar of the things I've had hurled at me. Some have frightened me to the point at which ducking into a bodega seeming like an absolute necessity. Some have made me cry. I'm not sure if I've gotten more self-aware or if then men on my street have become more brazen. If you're not from a large city, you may have never experienced this and my rant may fall on deaf ears. Chances are though, you've experienced it at least once. It's not fun. It's always been around and seems like it always will.
I laughed at this W. Kamau Bell segment but it also hits a little close to home. Anyone who has been catcalled knows the feeling. I went through all of the phases. First, it made me unspeakably angry. Then, it made me feel self-conscious and dirty. Then, I felt absolutely nothing. I don't know which emotion is the one I should be feeling. I don't know if I should feel unsafe when I am yelled at on the street. I do know that I've become very thankful for my thick, naturally-angry-looking eyebrows. I walk down the street with a perpetual scowl. It pains me that it has to be this way because I'm a generally open person. Putting walls up is difficult for me. But it seems like the only way. Is it though?
We live in a world in which influencing another individual to think or act a certain way is not a possibility. We all have free will. We will all do what we want. No ad campaign will convince someone who doesn't want to be changed. You cannot shame or legislate morality. It's a messed up world. Depravity is a real thing and everything is relative. Having said that, I hope you will eventually find the empowerment to speak up. The person harassing you is letting you know what he/she is thinking, why not return the favor? Be succinct and graceful but stern. Use your judgment and don't speak if you believe the individual may be particularly dangerous. Don't know what to say? Here's an excellent list.
Although this was less of a structured, well-thought-out essay and more of just some "food for thought," I felt the need to share. I've been getting pretty bummed due to the way I'm treated on my short walk into work. I want you to know that if you've gone through it, you're not alone. We're all here fighting this together. As always, my comment section is open for discussion. I'm hoping to have some kind of follow-up that's less disjointed but for now, I had to get it all off of my chest. What are some of your thoughts? I'm absolutely looking forward to hearing from you all.