While walking to the post office on Monday, I passed a man who greeted me with a somewhat irritatingly-snide “Hey, how you doing?”
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I nodded and said, “Good, thank you.” As I continued walking by, he laughed, pointed at my body, and said, “You’re naturally bow-legged. That’s kind of sexy. I like that.”
I ignored him and entered the post office, picked up my mail, and carried on with my errands, tears in my eyes. I was not crying over the content of the unwanted comment. I’ve got tough skin and, to be honest, I still don’t know whether to take the combination of “bow-legged” and “sexy” as a positive or a negative. I was crying because it has been weeks since I have managed to go seven days without an incident like this. And I am
For a moment, after he pointed and before he spoke, I actually thought he might comment on my shirt or call out my UNC gear with a “Go Heels.” Seconds later, I felt like an idiot for expecting anything so harmless. Why would I assume that a man on the street might actually want to engage in genuine, human interaction? No. I am an object to him. I am an object and to keep me an object he puts me down with his words and his constant objectification and his creepy suggestions that make me just uncomfortable enough that I won’t respond or defend myself.
At least this one didn’t try to physically intimidate me, I think bitterly as I walk home. Because a few weeks earlier on that very street a group of four men had blocked my path when I didn’t engage with them, calling me names and commenting to each other as they forced me to step fully into the street to get around them. (For those of you wondering: no, they were not wearing masks. These days, physical intimidation takes on a whole new level of severity.)
I was angry that day, just like I was angry on Monday, and I am angry now.
We’re sharing an old RANT today. It’s called “Sweetheart” and I wrote it months ago, but it could have been written last week, yesterday, or this afternoon. None of this is new. None of it will change if we don’t talk about it. I am so, so angry. And I am so @#$% tired.
"SWEETHEART" - Allyson S. Barkley
On behalf of women everywhere, I present: an essay in which I will instruct men to stop f***ing calling me “sweetheart.”
If you are not my parents, my best friend, or my life partner, you may not, under any circumstances, call me “sweetheart.”
My reasons include, in no particular order:
MORE TO THE STORY
Supermajority surveyed their members and asked women what changes they would see in their ideal future (hint: they want to feel safe and respected). Read the survey results here.
Holly Kearl discusses the connection between street harassment and the perpetuation of rape culture. Read her article "A Memo to Our Rape Culture" here, or check out out her book, Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Spaces Safe and Welcoming for Women.
81% of women and 43% of men have experienced sexual harassment. Check out NPR's article on this post-Me Too sexual harassment survey here.