Street harassment is an issue. This includes men hollering, whistling, grunting, etc. as you walk by. Behavior like this is not friendly or flattering especially as a woman. Harassers are attempting to display masculinity by invasively commenting on the body and are ultimately offended or even aggressive when it’s not taken as a compliment. This behavior communicates that they believe you and your body are there for entertainment.
I began finally speaking up after a trip to the gas station a few months ago. I was waiting in line to pay for my pump when a man walked in and stopped in his tracks. He looked me up and down. He then proceeded to comment on my looks. I don’t like attention. The situation happening made me extremely uncomfortable. I turned my head away and proceeded to text my mom. He didn’t like that I wasn’t responding to his “compliment.” I continued to stand there and wait to give the cashier my money. He didn’t buy anything, but on his way out he stopped and muttered in my ear, calling me a vulgar and offensive name. Following this, I blamed myself. I shouldn’t have ignored him. I shouldn’t have been wearing those jeans. I loathe these thoughts now and refuse to blame myself for just going about my life.
No one is should be allowed to make you feel unsafe. It is an instinct to ignore these comments - to not give them the attention they don't deserve. However, more recently I have been trying something else. When I am in a public place (and only in a public place) and a man harasses myself or a friend, I bring attention to him and the situation that is occurring around me. I back my beliefs of this firmly by saying, "This is harassment. You are making me feel uncomfortable." Then I promptly move on and get out of the situation. By doing this, I feel like I am taking back the control. You are acknowledging him, condemning him, and therefore letting those around you know that he is doing something wrong. This is so empowering for me and I think it will be for you too. I love to see the shock on the men's faces when I do this because it has become the norm to ignore when we should be paying attention.
In turn, I am now an experienced attention getter when it comes to calling out creepy men. Once other women see you doing this, they’ll be empowered to do the same. Reclaim the power that is rightfully yours and don’t look back.
By Rose Overbey