To the men who catcalled me today,
During our two-minute encounter, you made my life hellish.
I was on my college campus, just trying to walk from point A to point B. It was 11:37 PM. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, jeans, and sneakers. (I shouldn't have to say what I was wearing, but that's usually the first question I get asked regarding this issue, so I might as well get it out of the way.) I had earbuds in. I heard a faint yelling, so I took them out to listen. Being hyper-vigilant is a woman's strong suit. It has to be.
Then I saw you. All four of you, your heads hung out the windows of a pick-up truck, like dogs on loose leashes. And how you did bark. The vilest, most obscene strings of words came from your teeth, gritted and smiling. I shook my head and then lowered it, in hopes that the Angels of Sexual Misconduct would pass me over. But nevertheless, you persisted.
You picked up your speed, I picked up mine.
As your obscenities became louder, so did the pounding in my head.
You forced me into a full-on run in the other direction. I turned my head around to try and see faces, that I might see you in the light someday and defend myself, but the darkness outside and the hoodies over your heads masked you too well.
I had a self-defense keychain in my purse. I could have taken a photo of your license plate. There was a blue light button on the other side of the street. But, who can think about fighting when flight is the more immediate route to safety?
I had so many questions for those men on that night, and they have stayed burning in my head and heart. Where did you get the idea that the verbal assault of women is okay? Did you learn that from a father who treated the females in his life as property? Did you learn that from your buddies in high school who ranked the girls by sex appeal? Did someone tell you that women want to be harassed?
I want to believe that you are good, morally upstanding people in "real life" and that you just made a silly mistake like most college guys do. But, if you have the heart to scare an innocent woman to the point of breakdown, then there is something fundamentally ignorant and wrong in the way you think.
Your behavior is unacceptable. It will be tolerated no longer.
Being male is no longer an excuse for being violent. Your raising is not a reason to make women feel endangered. You can only get away with something for so long, and one day your attitudes and actions towards the women of this world will come back to bite you.
Maybe someday, you will learn how to get the good kind of attention; the kind of attention that doesn't come at someone else's expense. When has harassment ever gained you a healthy relationship or a human encounter that enriches your life?
If you see someone, and you want to enter their life in some way, a polite "hello" is so much more effective than throwing hand gestures out a car window.
Even in all of the hurt and terror I feel, I forgive you. I want the best for your lives and hope that whatever wound your bullying and aggression spews from is healed. I hope you have good friends that sit you down and call you out the next time you force your ferocity on an innocent stranger.
Please teach your children to hold the highest respect for all women because they do not get it often.
Above all, I pray you never hurt another woman like you hurt me.