30 October 2014


Geez Louise, this catcalling business is hot stuff on my Facebook feed right now.  Street harassment (usually by men - okay, always by men) towards women is having its nasty side exposed, with videos about how often it happens, online campaigns, and even some airtime on national television.

Essentially, it's gross.  And people need to know its gross.  And stop doing it.

In Bloomington (Indiana), it wasn't ever really a problem, at least for me.  Of course, I wasn't a college girl on campus.  I was a harried-looking mom driving around in a station wagon.  But here in New York, it's a different culture.

I'm still a harried looking mom, only I'm not driving a car - but I am pushing a baby carriage.  So that, in itself, is somewhat of a deterrent.  I do every now and then get some "bless you, mami" - but I take those as "bless you, you poor tired mother" and I will take that.  Also, to my defense, I get those from women, too.  I've been blessed more here in two months in New York than in my entire adult life elsewhere.  People are always blessing children.  I love that.

But I digress.  This evening I got a few minutes to myself to pop over to the dollar store for a few things (read: escape from the babies for 30 minutes!  Run!).  As I was walking out, I got what I would call my first legitimate catcall/street harassment incident.  A young man was standing by the door of the store and said to me, as I walked by (no eye contact, I was thinking about deep tired mother thoughts), "Hey, beautiful."

(death knoll)

This is how the rest of it played out, in script format.  My husband is a playwright, after all:

Liz [turning to look him in the face, slowing only a bit]:  Do I know you?

Guy [looking up, not missing a beat]:  No.

Liz [continuing to walk away]:  So?

Guy [pausing]:  At least I didn't call you ugly.

Liz [raising her voice now, as she is walking down the block still]:  So?

Guy:  Do you want me to call you ugly?

Liz [shouting behind her]:  You don't have to call me anything. (zing!)

Guy:  Whatever!

Me [hollering back]:  Whatever!


I won.  I won that one.  Fair and square.  And I was especially invested as there were two younger women behind me.  I wanted them to know it was okay to call it back.  You don't have to call me ANYTHING.

Now I'm going to relish my victory by ferociously cleaning my front room, imagining with every swipe of the vacuum that I am sucking up the dirt of sexism everywhere.



Anonymous said...

I think it best not to respond to them.

Think of them as spam or robocalls. Or pigeons or cockroaches.

Uncle John

Jasmin said...

#baller! I never respond...but it's because I'm not clever and can't think of comebacks... :) You rock!

Mara Noelle said...

You rock, Mamasita! I absolutely love that comment and think that it is perfect and that I will teach it to my daughters. "You don't have to call me anything!" Damn straight! Empowerment is a game changer. And it is seriously time to change the game.