Dear men who project the names, “sexy legs” or “baby girl” into my personal space whenever I roam the streets on a day I feel like throwing on my Valentino stilettos,
Step out of my territory and know your place; you are not welcomed to trespass my sanctuary of peace. I do not relinquish my body or my autonomy to you for your self-pleasure during this uncomfortable one-way conversation. Since when did my refusal of response translate to “be persistent, maybe she’ll cave in and come over?” I honestly think some of you men have been given the false memo that persistence always works. In the case of catcalling, it DOES NOT! What it might do, however, is leave a “grown boy missing” report on file because, speaking on behalf of women who’ve been personally victimized, our patience is withering.
This is a message to all the men who waste their time aggressively yelling at some of us thinking it will serve them any good. Did you think your vulgarity was the slightest bit attractive? While commenting on how well a woman looks is okay, there is a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. But I’m sure you—a grown, sentient man—didn’t know that.
So here is Catcalling 101: Learn the difference between a compliment and a catcall. Once you start sexualizing the matter, they are no longer compliments; they are catcalls. PERIOD.
For example, “Hello beautiful” could be considered acceptable. “Hello beautiful, can you strut for me,” paired with ogling and persistence is not. It’s street harassment. However, just because you feel the need to verbally express your attraction towards a random woman on the street, does not warrant you to go ahead and do so. Even if you think you are “just being polite”, a woman does not owe you a “thank you” or any response at all. Don’t waste her time, and don’t treat women as if their objects just floating around waiting to be complimented by a random stranger. It’s unnecessary, unappreciated, and unacceptable.
This here is a true story from another tired-out woman—me. The first day I moved to Brooklyn I experienced this discomfort. I was on my way to the corner grocery market in East Bushwick when I was pronged by the comment “Sexy legs, come here.” Because I couldn’t make out where the voice had come from, my “flight or fight” instinct took a chance on the flight and I ran frantically to the other side of the street. During my midway cross on the lane, I received a slew of comments I dare not mention here due to the overly explicit content. If I had known where the voice was coming from at the time, I swear I would have punched the dude in the jaw!
And a just a side note to that man who decided he was going to f*** with me on a wrong day: Tell your mother how you spent your day cat calling another woman and give me a call when you do so we can three-way—I’m ready to inform sis.
Catcalling is intrusive and should never be taken lightly. As innocuous as you many of you men believe it to be, it is very much unwelcoming. Some days we just feel like looking a little cuter than usual, and that is not to say we would like to hear your mouth whistling on every other block. A woman who is dressed up, or dressed down, is not in need of your unwanted remarks.
This is my final word to all the men who consider sexually harassing a woman on the street— shove it! We are tired of the fuckery and really wish you’d consider being less of an asshole today. Okay? Cool, peace.
From yours truly,
Another tired-out woman.
Written by Sarah Ann Joseph | Founder of the @BlackGirlsBlues Collective