Last night I went on a Target trip with friends, as we do on a very regular basis. Walking into the store, a guy whistled at us from his car. When we didn’t respond or look his direction, he yelled at us. At that point, I turned around and shouted, “you wish!” Probably not my best comeback, but it was the best thing I could come up with on the spot. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, my friend turned to me and said, “okay, let’s not.” I’ve been catcalled many times in my years as a young woman, but this was the first time I ever yelled back, and it was also the first time I was shut down by another woman. It came as a surprise to me how angry this made me. Not only do men get approval for objectifying women, but women get shut down by other women for standing up for themselves.
When I shouted back at the beedy-eyed bastard who catcalled us from the safety of his car, my heart was pounding and I questioned my actions subconsciously a thousand times before I yelled. But why? Because society has taught me to try to ignore the men who shout profane things at me; because I know that men who yell things like that could be a threat to me; because society tells me to let him yell things at me and continue to let him think it’s okay; because it is actually scary to be yelled at in a dark parking lot at night; and because in my almost 21 years, society has let me think that I don’t have the right to stand up for myself against men who objectify and diminish me.
And that is not okay.
So catcalling men,
It is the 21st fucking century. I’m sick of the catcalls, the “mmm sexy” muttered under your breath, the kissy noises when I walk by, and the unsolicited touching of my hair, my face, and my body in bars. I will not have sex with you. I will not flirt with you. I will not give you the time of day. I will never take it as a compliment when you objectify my body. I will not ignore you – I will fight back. I am a human being with a mind and a voice and if you are unwilling to see me as your equal, then I’m perfectly fine being your superior.
And silent women,
Start standing up for yourselves, your friends, and your fellow women. Wear what you want. Don’t take shit from men who see you as just another piece of ass. This is a call to action; we can’t just sit around expecting things to change. If we are silent, the catcalls and whistles and shouts of sexism will continue. By not shouting back, laughing at their pathetic attempts at demoralizing us, and standing our ground, we are letting men continue to believe it is okay to treat us this way. You deserve better. Would you stand by if it were your daughter being shouted at?
If you need more encouragement, check out Jessica Williams, comedian, feminist, and Daily Show correspondant:
And if you don’t agree, check out this Buzzfeed post and then get back to me:
(first image via blindgossip.com, second image via commons.wikimedia.org)