Remember those conversations we were having some time ago about street harassment and catcalling? You know, the one where we repeatedly told men:
“Stop catcalling and harassing women in the streets!”
And they responded: “Why women got a problem with us saying ‘hi’.”
And we repeated: “Stop catcalling and harassing women in the streets!”
And they responded: “Buh y’all know you like it.”
And, exasperated, we repeated: “No, stop catcalling and harassing women in the streets!”
And they responded, “Women like it– that’s what makes them confident!” ???
Well, I think we need to revisit that conversation because I recently noticed two things: 1. Far fewer men have been catcalling and harassing me in the streets and 2. Contrary to male belief, I’m still a beautiful confident woman who doesn’t need some random man mumbling crap about my body or telling me to smile to be that!
I was harassed in the streets ever since I was old enough to start wearing a training bra (which was pretty young in my case) and I just about had enough of it by the time I was 11 or so. No exaggeration, 11. I remember a group of the same men always standing on the corner when I would walk to the store to pick up something or another.
“Daayyyumm, she sexy!” they would croak like the damn old toads they were.
“You want me to school you?” one asked me one day.
Might I add that these men were grown? Most certainly in their twenties and thirties? That they all personally knew my family and watched my mother struggle to work multiple jobs to hold down her family of three kids on a single income? That they knew exactly how old I was and that never stopped them at all?
These interactions never empowered me. Or made me feel beautiful as men continuously argued they must have, despite constant women’s claims to the contrary. They made me feel like a piece of meat for the consumption of dogs. They made me feel unsafe emotionally and physically in my own personal space. I kept them all to myself for a while and let them internally eat away at my person. Until one day, I had absolutely enough. I began to write about street harassment. To implore men to keep their comments about my body to themselves. And I hoped that somehow, someway, that would be enough to at least have a small impact.
Then a few weeks ago, I was walking down the street and I literally froze in my steps. I realized that a man had not made a demeaning comment towards me in my body in quite some time and I almost broke down in tears of joy!
Now, I cannot conclusively claim that the reason why dudes are less apt to harass me in the streets has anything to do with the millions of women who collectively agreed– and dutifully fought to make the opinion known– that street harassment is precisely that, harassment. These dudes could simply be too busy tracking down Pokemon to pay me any mind. Or maybe my resting bitch face morphed into a “don’t f***s with me” face, so now dudes are “scurred.” Heck, maybe that extra year or two has made me undesirable to more men in the streets who are completely undesirable to me anyhow?
Whatever the reason for this decrease in harassing attention: God bless it.
I may go to church this Sunday and give tithes to NYC’s “Prosperity Preacher” to help him pay for that 2 million dollar mansion he may have to give up because he can no longer afford it (NOPE). Or maybe I will start walking home late at night without pretending to talk on my cellphone. Who knows what I will do with all of this confidence I still manage to have coupled with the gratefulness I feel from not being catcalled every. damn. day.
However, I may be rejoicing too early. Perhaps this catcalling infrequency is merely a mirage; an imagined oasis of sorts amidst a thirsty-ass world that I am in denial of. Tell me the truth, Clutch readers: Have you noticed a decrease in incidences of catcalling since the movement? Don’t lie to me either!