To The Man Who Catcalled Me
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Politics and Activism

To The Man Who Catcalled Me

No, you can't "grab my ass."

To The Man Who Catcalled Me

Dear man who catcalled me,

I'm glad that you appreciated the way that my body looked in the outfit that I picked out that day. My long pants and sweater were really the most appropriate outfit choice for the weather at that time period, and I picked them out especially for the long walk from the Johns Hopkins campus to the aforementioned CVS. I take great pride in my body and the way that it looks, because I take good care of it. So while you may think that asking if you could "grab my ass" was flattering, it wasn't. In fact, it made me quite afraid to be in a place that I now call my home.

I just moved to Baltimore not that long ago, and even though I'm just a college student, this city is as much mine as it is yours. And because this city is mine, I deserve to feel safe and comfortable in it.

Now I realize that Baltimore isn't exactly what people consider a "safe city," but that doesn't mean that behavior is more acceptable here. You are several decades older than I am, and generally, I don't like it when significantly older men that I don't know call across the street and ask if they can touch my body in ways for which I'd never give them permission. It was the middle of the afternoon, and all I wanted was to pick up my prescription and some cute winter decorations for the dorm. I wanted to walk there and back in peace. And I purposely picked this time to venture to the store so that I could avoid potential harassment, because I know that as a woman I have to be aware of the fact that I can't walk down the street at certain times of the day without that harassment.

And maybe it wasn't so much what you said that offended me the most (although it certainly was offensive), but it was the fear that if I said anything to deny the advances, my life may have been in danger. Because, as humans, we don't like the word "no." And it wasn't just you. It was the man a block ago. And the group of guys the block before that. It was the whole walk there that I moved to the edge of the sidewalk to avoid confrontation, kept my head down, and bit my tongue because I was too scared to say anything. So I kept walking faster.

I don't want to feel ashamed of what I wear or how I look. I don't want to be afraid to walk down the street to pick up a medication when I feel sick. I want my home to be my home, and I want to feel safe and comfortable.

And maybe it's naive to expect this to happen, but it's definitely not unreasonable.

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