To All The Men Who've Catcalled Me Before, Why Do You Do It?

To All The Men Who've Catcalled Me Before

Obviously I want men to stop catcalling and harassing women. But sometimes there's a deeper meaning behind why they do it.

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I'm driving down Route One, windows down, listening to my favorite podcast. At a traffic light, I spot out of the corner of my eye that the window of the car next to me is being rolled down, and suddenly words are being called to me, trying to get my attention. My open window is not for an invitation for those words, but an invitation for the crisp spring air to fill my car.

However, these words that I can barely make out, interrupt the tranquility of the scene, invites an uncomfortable presence that I wasn't prepared for. At this point, my eyes were still on the road ahead, but curiosity turned my head towards the one who possessed those unwanted words.

He was a black man. He looked at me with a bold gaze and now with my attention held, he began to increase his advances. He made kissy noises, smirked and kept asking me how I was doing. I wanted to take this as an innocent and friendly interaction with a fellow stranger, but I couldn't. I was not afraid of him, rather I was afraid to give him that chance. Instead of a fearful side-eye, I look at him directly and say hello.

But as soon as the greeting escaped my lips, I wanted nothing more to do with the interaction. I quickly rolled my window up as the light turned green and speedily drove away.

Maybe I handled it badly. Maybe I should've just ignored him and turned my speakers all the way up, and pretend to have not heard him. Maybe I should've kept my window down, look at him without any judgment, no fear and confidently said, "Hello." But preconceived notions permeated my mind at that moment and all I wanted to do was drive undisturbed to my destination. Instead of listening to the rest of the podcast, I sat with my thoughts on the situation. It wasn't a big deal; women get catcalled all the time and it's frustrating when it happens.

This shouldn't be the norm, but it is.

We can blame society and toxic hyper-masculinity but at the end of the day, it probably will still happen. But after the situation that had just happened at the traffic light, I wanted to think about the man who catcalled me for once. How did he feel? What made him do that? Did he think I was a bitch when I acknowledged him only to shun his existence by rolling up my window? Did he think I would appreciate his advances towards me?

These open-ended questions got me to think of a new perspective. Obviously, I want men to stop catcalling and harassing women. But sometimes there's a deeper meaning behind why they do it. And this doesn't categorize all men as predators. Men and women are both potential victims of this unwanted attention. This is not a gendered issue. So maybe we should take a non-gendered approach to it.

Men like Terry Crews who are outspoken voices in the "MeToo" movement have helped break down the walls of hyper-masculinity, especially in black men. I wonder if the expectation to adhere to the "boys will be boys" ideology and "brute" stereotype often attached to black men inadvertently drives some of the crass behavior some men partake in. If these ideas were never pushed upon or perpetuated, would catcalling even occur? In a perfect society, maybe.

If I could go back to that scene, to the black man who catcalled me from the car window, I would acknowledge him and ask, Why? I wonder what he would say.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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In Case You Haven't Heard, My Body Means My Choice, So Deal With It

With all the political differences and laws trying to be passed, based on what a woman can do with her body, demonstrates how the United States decides to use their power and control others by the means of it.

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Since the beginning of America, there have always been minority groups, which include African American, Hispanics, the disabled, homosexuals, and women. Such minority groups have made it their responsibility to fight for their rights and earn justice for it. However, there has recently sprung up a debate on abortion policies, attempting to alter and re-write the rules on Roe vs Wade per state to pursue when or if abortion is illegal based on certain circumstances.

Now, I am not writing this in any means to deter you from your individual opinion on this situation or your perspective, but I do believe that I have a voice in this situation since I am a woman and this situation affects me if any of you individuals like that or not. And most of all, I deserve to be heard.

Starting off, in no means should a man, government officials, or anyone for that matter be able to decide what is acceptable to do with my own individual body, EVER. How have we become a country that thinks it is more than okay to tell what others can do based on the decision of another person. See, we have this thing called bodily autonomy which means we have independence over our own body, or at least we should. A prime example of this is when an individual dies, a surgeon can not remove the person's organs (if they were an organ donor) until the designated power of attorney says it is okay to do so. However, it is apparently acceptable and illegal for someone who has become pregnant through rape or in general is unable to care for a child to receive an abortion and loses their bodily autonomy for the following 9 months. How does a corpse have more rights and bodily autonomy than a pregnant woman does today?

Currently, the state of Alabama has passed a bill that makes abortion illegal under any circumstances and committing this now known felony, can lead to a very long jail sentence. In fact, committing abortion in Alabama (for the woman or the doctor) can lead to a longer jail sentence than someone who raped another individual. Wow. How is that acceptable????

Many states are following in Alabama's lead and we need to put a stop to it before it becomes too far. We women, need to fight for achieving our bodily autonomy and band together and show America that we are a force to be reckoned with.

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