Just Stop Catcalling
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Politics and Activism

Just Stop Catcalling

I don't care how attractive you think I am, I don't deserve to be assaulted.

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Just Stop Catcalling
Wordpress

Last night I was in Manhattan with my friends. I wasn't wearing anything special – leggings and an old jean jacket. We were walking to the Columbus Circle subway station, passing Trump Tower, and a guy leans out of his car window to shout at us. I don't remember what he said, but I know that I started walking a little bit faster.

At the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, my friends and I were standing around, waiting for the ferry to take us back to Staten Island, and I could feel eyes burning through my clothes. Less than five feet away from me, there was a guy staring at me, whispering to his buddies. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I've been through this enough to know that it probably wasn't savory. We get on the boat, and he follows us to the front deck. It's cold; we're tired, and he says, "I just wanted to tell the one with the blue lipstick that she's pretty." I half smile. He's not looking at my lipstick. I thank him and turn away from him and away from my friends. He asks me where I'm from and why I'm not talking to him. He invited us to a party that his buddy was having on the island. All four of us just wanted him to leave us alone. After a long, uncomfortable and frightening silence, my friend asked him to leave.

When the ferry docked, he followed us. He told us to run. And even if it was a joke, boy did I run.

At home, in Pennsylvania, I can't take the trash to the garbage can on the curb without getting honked at or shouted at by somebody driving by. One day I was wearing my favorite black skirt and some jerk honked at me. I immediately started tugging on my clothes – trying to make my skirt longer, pulling my jacket tighter around me – as if what I was wearing was somehow inappropriate. When I get catcalled, I doubt myself, becoming incredibly self-conscious about my outfit, my make-up, my shoes, my hair, even my friends. I almost threw that black skirt out because of how horrible that jerk in a pick-up truck made me feel.

Thank you for thinking that I'm pretty, but shouting "Hey! You! Whatcha doing tonight?" while staring at my chest is not a compliment. Sleazily saying "Hey, Beautiful!" with a smirk on your face is not a compliment. Following me and calling me a whore when I don't respond to your unwanted advances is not a compliment.

I've had men come up to me and say, "Hey, I saw you from across the Ferry Terminal, and I just wanted to say that I think you're really pretty." I smile and say, "Thank you." Sometimes it leads to a conversation; most of the time it doesn't. But when they ask for my number, I'm not terrified to say no.

The difference between a compliment and a cat call is how comfortable I am with rejecting any sort advance made.

I love going down by the river in my hometown by myself. I love going shopping in Union Square by myself. I love being that "strong independent woman" and I love being by myself, but I've been followed and yelled at and threatened because I just smiled at someone I walked past. Apparently, having basic human decency makes me a tease.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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