Street Harassment SUCKS!

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You know those old Tex Avery cartoons with the wolf like Swing Shift Cinderella or Red Hot Riding Hood?

They’re the ones where the overly amorous horndog wolf makes an actual fool of himself over a woman that isn’t interested in him in the slightest. He hoots, he hollers. He bangs on the table and howls at the moon like he doesn’t have anything better to do with himself than make loud noises to harass women.

Picture those cartoons in your head.

Picture them real good.

That’s what I had to deal with on my way to work this morning.

I take two buses to work because my car isn’t Stitch-ready yet (it’s a long story…). This morning, my first bus was running late so I had to book it to the second stop so I didn’t end up an hour late to work. As I’m walking to the bank parking lot I usually cut through in order to get to my stop stop, I hear whistling.

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What I was wearing when I got the cat-calling of a lifetime…

At first, I’m not sure where it’s coming from or who it’s directed to. (This is despite the fact that I’m the only person on that side of the street…)

Who would be whistling at me, I think. It’s 80+ degrees out and I’m a sweaty mess. I’m grumpy and my hair is everywhere. I’m in a dress and tights sure, but that’s because I’m sick and this is a concession to the South Florida sun that’d roast me if I dressed the way I wanted to.

So I ignore the whistling.

I don’t look back because I don’t want to encourage them.

I don’t want it to get worse.

Only it gets worse.

The whistling gets louder. I hear men shouting things at me.

“Hey, baby” they say like it’s my name. They say it like I should be glad that some weird men with no sense of manners between them are shouting at me. They start interspersing the whistling with banging. Hitting the top of the truck I think they’re in repeatedly. Calling me like I’m a goddamn dog instead of a thinking, feeling human being.

When I walk faster, they bang faster, whistle louder.

By the time I make it to the bank proper, my nerves are shot. I keep looking back as subtly as I can to make sure I’m not being followed into the empty parking lot. My hands are shaking. My face is hot and not from the heat around me. But by the time I get to the bus stop I’m notscared any more.

I’m angry.

Angry that this is what many men do when they see a woman (or a feminine person they perceive as a woman because I don’t tend to ID as such all the time). I’m angry that I have to watch my back like this, that I can’t exist without worrying that someone will see me in a dress and tell themselves that I am for them. That my body is a thing for them to shout at. That they have the right to call me like I’m not a person, like I’m an animal that exists just for their pleasure.

It’s been nine hours since then.

I’m still pissed.

How is it that I can’t even walk to a bus stop without being cat-called?

How is it that wearing a dress in front of certain kinds of men makes them lose every bit of sense in their heads?

I wore a dress for comfort – my comfort – not for anyone else’s. I didn’t wear it to be commodified and objectified for anyone’s gaze, much less a male one. I didn’t wear my dress so that someone losers in a truck could make me feel unsafe and make me regret putting it on in the first place.

And to every single man that thinks harassing women/feminine ppl is cute and funny and will get them anywhere but cussed out or ignored: go fuck yourself.

Seriously.

Go fuck yourself.

I am no one’s object.

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About Zina

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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