Street harassment and sexism hand-in-hand problems

BY CAITLIN O’DONNELL
cross posted from The Times-Delphic

I’m not sure exactly how it became socially acceptable to honk and catcall at girls when you, see us walking around Des Moines, but I assure you it doesn’t turn us on. I promise I’m not jogging so that you can creepily watch me, and these Target gym shorts I’m wearing are not for your benefit.

Here are a few things that girls don’t think when you honk and/or catcall at them:

That boy must be hot and well-endowed.

Oh baby, I love being objectified.

Yes, in fact, I do want to get in your car with you.

Let me just start by informing you that I am not even a little bit attractive when I am jogging. I promise there is nothing about my appearance that could possibly entice you to honk at me. And if I’m wearing high heels and a skirt that goes up to Tahiti, it’s still creepy and misogynistic when you honk at me—I promise.

What exactly do you expect to come of your honking/objectifying slur encounter? I have no idea who you are, and since you’ve now insinuated that I’m a veritable piece of meat, I really don’t want to find out. I promise no level of “Hey girl, what you doing tonight?” will make me want to get into the back of your Corolla.

It does not make me feel excited that I’ve finally caught your attention, which I was so seeking, because I am not seeking your attention. Also, those girls walking a block ahead of me? They don’t want it either. Really. And when my friend flips you off and I yell, “hell, yeah, sexism!” this is not an invitation for you to come back and say “hi.”

When you honk and catcall at us, it may seem like innocent flirting to you. Perhaps you think you flatter us with your witty attention, or you’re showing off for the charming boys also residing in your car. I like to think that you honk because you’re compensating for something. Or maybe you’re chastising me for being a woman jogging at night, a reminder that the streets are not safe for us poor, fragile little girls. Because here’s what it feels like when you call out to me: a threat.

This is what actually goes through my head when you honk: What if he turns around and comes after me? Why does he automatically think he can intimidate and objectify me? Is ‘idiot’ contagious?

When you honk and yell demeaning things as I pass your car or house, it does not make me want to get to know you better. It actually makes me want to slap you.

This street is not yours and neither is any part of me you can see while I walk down University Avenue. It’s ridiculous that you can generally walk around without fear of harassment from passing cars, but for women, it’s expected that we suck it up and take it in stride every time we leave a building.

Weirdly enough, I have the right to walk somewhere without being called out to, honked at or leered at, no matter what time of day or type of attire, and just because you can’t meet girls in a normal context does not make it OK for you to be a jerk. Leave me alone, and take your sexist, drunken, creepy friends with you.

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3 Responses

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  1. Lauren Zink says:

    OH MY GOD, I am so in love with this post!

  2. Robin says:

    Thank you
    It is so important to share this stuff with others

  3. Rachel says:

    This happens to me when I jog too! I can sympathise with you so much. I sometimes wish I could be invisible when I jog to avoid people saying things, isn’t that terrible? We should be able to go out without this fear.

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