There’s nothing that will ruin your day like getting street harassed walking both to and from the subway. I try to always wear headphones when I walk around during the day to shield myself from the intrusive comments of ill-mannered men. I wish I could wear them at night, but I’d rather get catcalled than mugged.
I had my recorder in my pocket. Every time it happens, I tell myself that next time I’ll take the recorder out and ask them to explain what they hope to gain from catcalling, both for article fodder and to put them on the spot and diminish some of the power that they get from doing that. But every time I just keep walking.
So many of my guy friends have asked me why it pisses me off, because don’t I like getting compliments? I tell them these things aren’t said to make me feel good, they’re said to make me feel like a snack food.
Catcalling obviously is not an effective mating strategy, but I know why they do it. I know they don’t have any real power in their lives, that objectifying women walking down the sidewalk alone is their attempt to compensate by making us feel powerless. I try to keep a straight face, to not be compelled by the men who lurk on the stoops of my street to crack a polite smile or even whip back a “fuck off”. Sometimes though, like this morning, they get right next to you and tell you directly in your ear how much they love “girls like you”, then wait to catch your surprised expression. If women were slot machines, my horrified reaction was a jackpot for him I’m sure.
It’s like there’s a self-esteem tax that only women have to pay.