I’ve been given a lot of advice since teenagehood about cat-calling and how to respond in the moment. Everything from “Just ignore it” to “Tell them where they can shove it.” But the worst things that have been said to me were usually along the lines of “Oh honey, it’s a compliment!” or “It’s just normal behaviour. Deal with it and don’t be such a wuss.” Yeah, there’s something really normal about leaning out your car window and screaming obscenities at a 16-year-old on her way to work. Or at ANYONE on their way anywhere, ever.
When I was a youngster, I stopped speaking up against street harassment because of the reactions I got from most of my peers when I sought support. I was the one who had a problem with it, so I was the one at fault. My parents were the only ones on my side, and thank goodness for them, or I would have grown up thinking there was something wrong with me. Besides that, I had people my age claiming I was denying the fact that I “liked the attention” (loud vomiting sounds), or my retail managers waggling their index fingers at me, telling me to appreciate it now before I’m “old and ugly.”
Let’s make a list of EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG with what I’ve written in the above paragraph. No, I’ll let you do it. I’m tired.