Hey, baby, what’s your name? You’re looking fine. Show us your tits. Look at those legs. Look at that arse. Its ok, honey, there’s more of you to love.
Street harassment. Something I’m sure the vast majority of females have experienced at one time or another in their lives. The most distinctive time I can remember was when I was thirteen. I was all dressed up to go to the movies with friends and walked past some men at the train station. I could feel their eyes on me. It felt like they were boring holes in the back of my head. Then, one of them said the above. Thirteen years old and I felt dirty. I felt small and unworthy.
Unfortunately, it’s happened many times since then. I’ve lost count in the following years, exactly how many times. I’ll just stick with ‘a lot’, which is totally a scientific way of counting, I’m sure.
It has happened when I’ve been dressed up, it’s happened when I’ve been out for a run. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, what I’m doing or who I’m with, it happens anyway.
Sites like Holla Back were created to combat street harassment that women face daily. I both think this is a good idea and a … not so much bad idea as one I’d be wary about. I think we live in the constant fear that if we say something back, we’ll be hurt. Or killed. I remember reading a quote from the Gavin de Becker book – The Gift of Fear (which is a teeny bit problematic in itself, but that’s a whole other post). I may be paraphrasing a little, as I can’t find my copy right now, but it goes something like this:
Men are afraid women will laugh at them, women are afraid men will kill them.
So, I’m good with Holla-ing Back, but only in the circumstances that are comfortable and safe for me. I don’t think that a woman who cannot say something back, or is too afraid to say something back, is in any way weak or meek (and I’m not saying that the Holla Back sites imply that in the slightest, but it has been a comment I’ve come across before).
I wish the men who do this sort of thing to women wouldn’t. I wish women weren’t seen as property and as things, rather than human beings. I dress for myself. I don’t need or want the opinion of some random man on the street whose idea of a stimulating conversation is commenting on how my tits look with his friends and, then, when ignored or rejected, commenting that I’m too fat anyway.