Don’t Call Me Baby

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The recent 100 Catcalls in 10 Hours video making its way around the internet is an interesting piece of journalism but it’s not that surprising. Every woman I know experiences similar, perhaps not in the same volume, every day.

It’s shocking that cat calling is still a thing but it very much is still a thing. It might be easier to walk past places synonymous with that sort of behaviour, say building sites now that they have anti-harassment signs slapped all over them but what about the men in the streets, boys walking home from school; shops, public transport, the list goes on?

The men who whisper “Dayum” under their breath as you walk past, who tell you you’re pretty. It doesn’t matter how they dress it up or what they say, it’s not on. Some argue that they’re just being complimentary, nice; that women should be flattered, even grateful for their attention. Any attention actually.

Sometimes if you fail to respond, which is almost always because who is ever pleased with unwanted attention?, the tables will turn and you’ll find yourself being abused. Stuck up, fat, ugly – we’ve heard it all.

Now I like a good-looking man as much as the next girl and I like to appreciate. I might make a comment to my friend but there’s no way I’d whistle and click as he wandered by. It doesn’t compute that there are people out there that don’t see this is anti-social behaviour.

The other day I got followed home. I thought I was being paranoid at first but it wasn’t that. I guess it was my mistake to make accidental eye contact with an older man as I disembarked the train at Bexhill. As he followed at an uncomfortable pace behind me, instinct told me to go somewhere bright and crowded, rather than walk down my mum’s road which is poorly lit.

So I headed to a busy shop and bought a loaf of bread. As I slipped onto the end of the queue, I saw him come to the door and look around, seemingly to look for someone. I assume it was me. Thankfully he was gone by the time I left the shop but it was frightening. When I relayed the story to my husband he said he didn’t like to hear these things because it scared him.

It scares me too.

Nobody deserves to feel intimidated as they go about their day. Or night. There have always been bad people out there who do evil things and in an ideal world, it wouldn’t happen anymore. One in three women would not be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, women would be able to take a taxi home and know they were safe.

I don’t know how we can change the attitudes of these pigs who think it’s acceptable to intimidate, even if they don’t think they are but I do think that if there are videos like the aforementioned out there, perhaps these same men will come to be embarrassed and ashamed of their behaviour and working on changing it.

It’s not a great answer and I wish I had a better one but it’s a start.

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5 Replies to “Don’t Call Me Baby”

  1. Ugh. The following thing is just chilling. Hate that you had to experience that. I had a guy come into where I worked all the time (a shop, so hey, not alot I can do about it (this is also the reason that were I to OWN a shop I would not make my staff wear name badges. Having horror stories know your name is too much and strips a layer of defence away almost immediately)) and would chat, get a bit too close, ask how old I was on an almost daily basis. I didn’t feel good about it, but everyday I had to combat one pervy stereotype by using the shop’s Alpha-Male stereotype (gym-bunny, tattooed, taller than 5 foot) to get rid of him. I felt totally helpless and at the complete mercy of two individuals – one who I couldn’t get rid of and one who I felt I needed to defend me – me asking him to leave wasn’t cutting it. It went on for a couple of weeks, then he would spot me on the street and come running over, then he would be near my bus stop – both at home and in town. Thankfully, as suddently as it started it stopped, but its knowing when to report behaviour, when is “being nice” OFFICIALLY not OK anymore? What else would he have had to have done before I felt it was an issue worthy of speaking out about? I didn’t think I could walk into a police station and go “there is this man that comes into my shop, which he has a perfect right to do, then talks to me, which again isn’t against the law. etc etc” I think as women we feel we have to just put up with stuff, and only report things when something really bad has happened.

    I mean, I suffer from anxiety so any step outside comes with a deep breath, but add in the possibility of looks, noises, names and unwanted hands and its a wonder anyone leaves the house at all. If I said to my boyfriend “Ok, everytime you leave the house you have to brace yourself against insult (or assult)…how does it feel?” I think he would probably just not bother going out again.

    The more recent trend of boys screaming at you as they drive by is really becoming too much for me. I have massive headphones now so I can at least PRETEND to the best of my ability that I haven’t heard them shout “RAPE!!!” at me or “C*NT!!!” or whatever else. This happens AT LEAST once a week.

    Also, the tongue between the V-ed fingers thing? Can do without that as well.

    Great post! xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the most interesting thing about all of this, we all have our own experiences and can mostly put our own scary story into the pot. That is absolutely dreadful, and you’re completely right, it goes so much deeper than we know this whole issue. These people don’t seem to have the capacity to stop and think about how they are making you feel. God, if someone told me to leave them alone one day I would be mortified and they would never see me again.

      Actually, your experience reminds an awful lot of my time as a Barista and having to, not wear a name tag thankfully, but to affect this persona of over the top friendliness (or risk being marked down by a mystery shopper). That just encourages a faux-friendshippy status with people that shouldn’t be allowed out or in public places. I’ve had the same sort of unwanted advances from men, not as aggressive perhaps, this guy asked me out in front of a long queue of people and when I said I was getting married, got all ‘persuasive’. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. He waited outside and everything.

      I’ve just got a text from my friend saying that the woman from that video is getting rape threats via Twitter now. It makes me want to cry, seriously.

      I am so sorry that you’ve been made to feel that way, it makes me want to act out physically, which I don’t agree or believe in. It’s just so horrible and I agree with what you say about your boyfriend. When my husband said he was scared, I was like, well yeah, it happens all the f**king time to every woman you know. Imagine how you’d feel. He didn’t really have an answer to that, obviously!

      Great thought provoking comment, Han, thanks so much!

      Like

  2. You’re right, we do all have horror stories, but one of the worst things about how endemic this kind of harassment is is that it shapes your behaviour each and every day. You stay alert for anything threatening and won’t take “risks” that men see as a normal part of their day, like walking alone at night. As a young woman I missed out on so many social events because I wouldn’t get a taxi home by myself as I’d heard too many horror stories. And the thing is, a woman will be blamed for assault if she isn’t steadfastly practicing all of these strategies designed to keep her under control and stifle her movements – where she goes, what she wears, lifestyle choices will all be used against her. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but it makes me so angry. I am glad though that women seem to be talking about their experiences more openly, even at the threat of the kind of online harassment the maker of this video is now receiving. One of the most infuriating incidents in the video is when the guy calls after her “someone is acknowledging you for being beautiful – you should say thank you more!” We really need to change this view that women should be grateful for the “compliment” of a man finding her sexually attractive – maybe she’d like to be acknowledged for something else, by someone else, and not at all by some random in the street, you know? So thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You couldn’t be more right about how we modify our behaviour and the blame aspect, the fact that so many sex crimes go unreported for the very reasons you mention is disgusting and so so wrong. It also makes me want to spit.

      I hope things change one day, I really really do. Agree with everything you say, Em, thanks so much for commenting x

      Like

  3. That’s just awful, and a real problem that gets dismissed and ignored. I hate that I have to hide behind and protect myself with the mention of having a partner when approached by creepers. Except for one lovely occasion in which I was cornered by a guy on the street hitting on me who demanded that I get out my phone and prove I had a boyfriend via texts or photos before he would “let me go without giving him my number” Literally. That was horrible. The idea that I should be fucking grateful for being made to feel uncomfortable and creeped out is disgusting. 😦 x

    Like

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