An Open Letter to Cat Callers

An Open Letter to Cat Callers

Or to anyone who harasses women.
54
views

It’s 11 p.m. on a Tuesday. I’m situated in front of the coffee machine at an empty gas station that's dimly lit in fluorescent lights when you walk in.

“Oh, hey baby, what’s your name?” you whistle. I turn, ready to snap some snarky comment your way when the words stick in my throat. Towering over me by a foot and a half and outweighing me by at least twice my body weight, it’s clear that the last thing I should do is anger you in any way. I just smile meekly and turn back to the coffee, hoping that you’ll leave me be.

“I’m talking to you. Hey BITCH, I asked what your fucking name is.”

“Uh, Am-Amy…”

“You workout, Amy? You look like you work out. You’re fine as hell.”

“Ah, thanks.” I’m wearing leggings and an oversize Salisbury t-shirt. No makeup, hair up in a pony tail plastered under a hat, the way I look would be considered bumming it and that’s being generous. My eyes keep darting to the bathroom where my Mom is and I try not to show any fear as I stare behind you at my Dad parked outside, willing him to look up. You pay for a couple packs of cigarettes and turn back towards me, advancing, leering down at me. Even the clerk looks worried from the counter.

“You smoke? How old are you?”

“Eighteen.”

“Oh, eighteen huh? Good age, heh-heh. You smoke? You drink? We should hang out sometime.”

The bell on the door rings and my Dad walks over to me. By sheer presence of another male associated with me in the store, you finally leave. I can confidently say that if my parents weren’t in that store with me that this would have ended very, very differently.

I’ve had so many other interactions like that. When I was in seventh grade (just at thirteen years old), some middle aged man called me a slut in front of my whole family - mind you, I was wearing a gray t-shirt and jean shorts. There’s been at least four instances of guys following me around in grocery stores and gas stations, plenty of times where construction workers have whistled and yelled at me in different languages as I walked to my car, and an infinite number of stare downs with men old enough to be my father in restaurants. If I had a nickel for every time cars honked at me and my friends when we walked down the street, I could pay for all my college tuition.

I would bet my life that every single girl reading this can attest to their own stories of cat calls and harassment. If someone asked any woman what they do to protect themselves against men, it would sound something like this.

“I park as close as I can to the store front and if there’s a spot, I park under street lights. I never park next to a truck or a van, and when I walk to my car I hold my keys between my fingers like some kind of Wolverine. Walking down the street alone I keep a brisk pace, never making eye contact with men that seem remotely threatening or any men at all for that matter and I never leave the house without my pepper spray. I don’t leave my drink out of my sight at parties and I never accept an open cup from someone. I go to the bathroom in groups, I keep my phone unlocked with 911 at the ready if I’m alone at night and I do a check around and inside my car to make sure no one’s in it. If I’m catcalled, I just smile and keep walking; I don't dare make them angry out of fear that they’ll follow me home or get violent. I know too many friends who have had that happen to them.” The fact of the matter is that sexual harassment has reached such a high level that it’s common. It’s common to sexually harass people. So common, that it’s become second nature for us to turn as nervous and alert as a freakin deer as soon as we step outside a store or our house. We are constantly on watch, ready to fight or flee at any sign of danger.

A lot of our first responses to being cat called is to fire back with a retort or flash the middle finger. But we’ve had to suppress that defense mechanism because if we women show any sign of being defiant or fierce, the harsh truth is that we run the risk of being followed, attacked, raped, or even killed.

Catcalling is not a compliment. It’s not flattering, it’s not funny, and it’s certainly not attractive. It is a predatory sound that we dread. It is the sound for literal danger, a signal that we need to get ready to either defend ourselves or search for an escape route and run. So, the next time you think about screeching a “AY YO BABY”, or piercing the public peace with a shrill whistle and a “HEY! NICE ASS”, remember that it doesn't do anything for you. If anything, it just makes you look like the disgusting, low, sleazy piece of trash that you are. Because let's face it, no relationship has ever begun with "Oh, he yelled sexual obscenities to me on the street and I just knew that he was the one!"

Cover Image Credit: Gainesvillesene

Popular Right Now

A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
21527
views

I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

8 Types Of People Fetuses Grow Into That 'Pro-Lifers' Don't Give 2.5 Shits About

It is easy to fight for the life of someone who isn't born, and then forget that you wanted them to be alive when you decide to hate their existence.

1188
views

For those in support of the #AbortionBans happening all over the United States, please remember that the unborn will not always be a fetus — he or she may grow up to be just another person whose existence you don't support.

The fetus may grow up to be transgender — they may wear clothes you deem "not for them" and identify in a way you don't agree with, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them a mentally unstable perv for trying to use the bathroom.

The fetus may grow up to be gay — they may find happiness and love in the arms of someone of the same gender, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them "vile" and shield your children's eyes when they kiss their partner.

The fetus may grow up and go to school — to get shot by someone carrying a gun they should have never been able to acquire, and their life will mean nothing to you when your right to bear arms is on the line.

The fetus may be black — they may wear baggy pants and "look like a thug", and their life will mean nothing to you when you defend the police officer who had no reason to shoot.

The fetus may grow up to be a criminal — he might live on death row for a heinous crime, and his life will mean nothing to you when you fight for the use of lethal injection to end it.

The fetus may end up poor — living off of a minimum wage job and food stamps to survive, and their life will mean nothing to you when they ask for assistance and you call them a "freeloader" and refuse.

The fetus may end up addicted to drugs — an experimentation gone wrong that has led to a lifetime of getting high and their life will mean nothing to you when you see a report that they OD'd and you make a fuss about the availability of Narcan.

The fetus may one day need an abortion — from trauma or simply not being ready, and her life will mean nothing to you as you wave "murderer" and "God hates you" signs as she walks into the office for the procedure.

* * *

Do not tell me that you are pro-life when all of the above people could lose their lives in any way OUTSIDE of abortion and you wouldn't give 2.5 shits.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is gay or trans, you will berate them for who they are or not support them for who they love.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is poor or addicted, you will refuse the help they desperately need or consider their death a betterment of society.

You fight for the baby to be born, but when the used-to-be-classroom-of-fetuses is shot, you care more about your access to firearms than their lives.

It is easy to pretend you care about someone before they are even born, and easy to forget their birth was something you fought for when they are anything other than what you consider an ideal person.

Related Content

Facebook Comments