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One of the most frustrating things about living in a big city is the feeling that I can’t walk outside without being harassed on the street at least once a day. When I first started experiencing this I found it annoying, but as the years pass I become increasingly furious. Not a day goes by that I don’t experience one or more of the following: cat-calling, whistling, kissing noises, intensely seductive stares, or pointed glances up and down my body. Contrary to what many men think, this attention is not appreciated and not flattering, and I’m sure most women agree with me. This kind of attention is not like being given a complement …it’s not like being told, “you are beautiful.” It actually feels horrible; it makes me feel degraded and violated, but most of all, it makes me feel utterly powerless. I feel as if my body doesn’t belong to me, and this infuriates me more than anything I’ve ever experienced.
I have tried a variety of things to deal with this situation: I’ve tried saying things like, “what are you looking at?”, I’ve tried using my worst glares, evil eyes, and disgusted faces, I’ve tried looking through men to make them feel invisible, and I’ve tried ignoring them and staring straight ahead. When I talk back to men in a nasty tone of voice, they either pretend that they weren’t cat calling me (as if I was making it up and I should be so lucky to get their attention), or they get equally mad back at me. Glaring, staring through them, and ignoring them doesn’t prevent the harassment either, and it doesn’t make me feel better. No matter what I do, I never feel in control of the situation. I feel imprisoned—I am overly self-conscious about what I wear, and I dread the hot days when I have no choice but to wear semi-revealing clothing.
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