Recently, an article was published in the Indy newspaper, a local, NC Triangle Area publication featuring views, reviews, and news on a global and county level. The article was written by a woman who was complaining about being shouted at / harassed /cat called by men while walking, running, entering grocery stores, driving, etc. I know what you’re thinking, because I always do, you’re thinking, “Hey, lady, you can’t help it if you’re hot and everyone wants a piece of you, right!?” Count your blessings, we should all be so lucky. But, I can tell you from personal experience, that this phenomena occurs regardless of size, race, creed, and whether or not you’re having a good hair day; being hooted and hollered at when you’re trying to get in a relaxing workout is not flattering, it doesn’t boost my confidence, it’s just plain annoying.
Many people know that my part-time job is walking. I love walking and I can usually muster up the energy and gusto to walk no matter what, despite my old age, whenever and wherever. Walking is delicious and on days when I need to work out stress and emotions, or when I’m just passing the time and looking to spark a freight train of thoughts through my brain, it’s the perfect medicine.
When I lived with my parents in Gastonia, there were no sidewalks per say, but I managed to devise my own 9-mile walk on road shoulders, which looped around the city and gave me a variety of scenery. I also apparently provided some scenery for the locals. Never in my ENTIRE LIFE have I been honked at, shouted at, whistled at, and verbally “harassed” as much as in that town. I dare say, that would NEVER happen in New Hampshire. At least, not in my 26 years of experience living there. I’ve been pulled over by a cop while I was walking, but I have not been the object of someone showing off their vocal chords and amplified pick up lines. I tell you what, the South is worse! So much for Southern hospitality. Perhaps I have magically turned into a beautiful princess moving down here and now I am the apple of all the gentlemen in all the land? Mmm….yeah, I don’t think that’s it.
Fortunately, upon moving to Raleigh, I rarely find this happening to me anymore, although it DID happen today coincidentally, as I was pondering this very topic. In a demented way, before this incidence today, I was starting to wonder if I had lost my strut, was I not attractive anymore? If no one hits on me at the gym these days, does that mean I’m becoming soft? See how society has me trained?
So, while one might THINK that being whistled at is a compliment; I can even remember personally wishing someone would do that very thing when I was younger, and I felt “cool” if someone yelled “Hey Baby!” at me and my friend Abbey when we were walking to go get ice cream, choosing to believe it was me they were praising and not her. I believe it, I believe that you do look really sexy in that blouse today, but when someone shouts it to you, “Check out dem’ titties!!” it’s actually quite demoralizing. You see, the guys who are doing the yelling don’t care if you’re a living, breathing, moving being, or a chick with a bag over her head, they just see legs, identify that it’s a member of the female species and raise up their war cry out the driver’s side window. While I’m thinking about how I love sparrows, and noticing the comforting blue of the sky, they’re informing me, loudly that I’m nothing more than a piece of meat with a pony tail. It makes me feel a twinge of anger inside, and makes me dislike them, which makes me dislike myself for disliking someone, because I don’t dislike anyone.
Does it really accomplish anything? Do you think girls like that? Does it turn us on? Do you think that is how you’re going to meet your dream girl? Dream on, cowboy. Dudes who do this are probably so dumb that their mistaking middle fingers for ring fingers. I don’t know what it accomplishes for these hicks, other than a feeling of overarching power and a sense of freedom, but it encroaches on the freedom, happiness and peace of those it’s inflicted upon…so, man up and quit it!
I think I’ve belabored the point plenty, but honestly, I’m going to take a moment to think of whether or not anything POLITE can be SHOUTED from the window of a car or to a lady. Yeah, no, got nothing. I can think of politely saying, “You have beautiful eyes,” or perhaps, “Your neck is that of a swan, ” or maybe even, “Would you like to join me for a fancy dinner upon the morrow, ma’ lady?” But pretty much anything else that you holler while beamin’ in your Beamer is going to be rude and disgust me. So save your breath.
It’s obnoxious and unsettling
Sometimes, being a woman is scarier than being a man. Sometimes we’re worried about not being strong enough or unable to defend ourselves. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and not everyone is nice with good intentions. Personally, when someone shouts at me, or honks their horn at me, I about jump out of my skin like a snake with fear because I don’t know what on earth is happening. Thanks for jolting my perfectly tame nervous system into fight or flight mode, jerk.
I’ve often thought about carrying mace with me when going for a walk or run. I know for a fact that mace in the eye does not feel good. Is that the kind of world we want to create? A country where mace is as common as a pair of socks, rather than a special twice-a-year Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Apple Pie spice?
I was really happy to see the article that woman wrote in the Indy Week. Unfortunately, for both she and I, our audiences are not exactly the type that need to be reading these words. But perhaps by making others aware, change can begin to occur.