Catcallers in the City
NEW YORK - I like to keep to myself when I'm walking to class. I usually have headphones in, sunglasses on, and a resting "don't-talk-to-me-I'm-contemplating-life" face. Today, I left my headphones at home and it's too cloudy for sunglasses, so I decided to make my way to the NYU Writing Center without any evidence of my desire to be left alone.
I was walking up and down the street because the building was not easy to find. Turning a corner, I hear a man say to me, "Smile, gorgeous!"
Before I could process what had just happened, I was too far away from the man to look bad and acknowledge what he had said. I shook my head in annoyance and continued on my way to find the writing building.
Here's the thing about catcalling in the city: It does happen.It happens during the day and at night. It happens to women of all sizes and colors and shapes. It happens to college students and older women. It happens in parks, on streets, on corners, in bars, in townhouses, in dorms, outside classrooms. It happens when women are alone or in groups. Catcalling is real, and catcalling is, unfortunately, a part of the New York City culture.
Why is this still a problem? In the great scheme of the world and the various strides women have made to be accepted and respected in society, why are we still at risk of being objectified on the street? Why must I have to talk about this at all in order to draw attention to what we already know - that women are equal to men and that we do not deserve catcalling.
Reflecting on the incidence has made me understand that it's not my fault. It wasn't because I was dressed in an odd way or that I asked to be objectified. It's from the culture here and everywhere - women are just not held in as high regard as men are. I am sad to think that I will be called out by the sheer fact that I am a woman.
So, what can we do? The first step is to accept that we are powerful. No man can tell us how to be or what to do or when to do something. They can't expect us to take their rude remarks as compliments when we are merely trying to get to class. We must know that it is no fault of our own.
And we must fight. Talk about it with our friends. Discuss it with our family no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Blog about it. Comment about it. Call it out if you're not the only other person on the street. Our weakness is only in the minds of those who don't see our strength. Be a part of the movement to rid of the catcalling culture.