Friday, June 15, 2012

Street Walker

Today I walked into town instead of biking, and upon arrival at one of my favorite coffee shops, I reflected bitterly whether that was the correct choice. I chose to walk because I wore a skirt today and I didn't feel like changing before I left home. On the 18-block trek between home and the Haymarket, at least three different men yelled or honked at me. To say their comments were unwelcome is an understatement.

I hate being yelled at on the street because of what I'm wearing. I hate that some men feel their first and only interaction with me can be some kind of advance. It's just plain rude to speak to any human that way, and I am enraged that this happens to women, to me, very commonly. About every other time I choose to walk into town, actually. If you want my attention, try "Hello, how are you?" Is this phrase too difficult? Have these men forgotten how to politely address a stranger?

Is it my fault for wearing a short skirt? Was I "asking for it"? I had on tall boots and a modest tank top. I do not think this outfit makes me a hussy. Am I supposed to wear a longer skirt or pants to avoid rude catcalls? Am I supposed to be flattered by men commenting on my looks as I walk by? I do not dress to attract the attention of men. I dress to satisfy my personal aesthetic, to feel confident, and, in this instance, to stay cool in the summer heat.

Men, I ask you: refrain from yelling out to women from on the street about their looks. Do not comment, honk, or whistle. Even more important: tell your friends to do the same. Tell every man you know that this is unacceptable treatment of women, of people. Don't laugh it off or claim that it's a joke or "not a big deal." It IS a big deal. It's offensive. And don't feed me the line that "boys will be boys." By excusing male behavior this way, you not only marginalize the dignity of women, but degrade yourselves. Aren't you intelligent, reasonable people who can conduct themselves according to social standards? By claiming that "boys will be boys," you imply that males are immature and irresponsible, unable to control or prevent any kind of bawdy behavior. I believe you are better than that. Help me on this one.


  1. Twice in my life I was driving my car and a passenger "friend" yelled something out the window at a woman walking on the sidewalk. Both times I instantly went nuclear on them for doing that. Both times I shortly dissolved the friendship for their patterns and attitudes towards women.

    1. I appreciate your efforts in upholding your values, Rick. It's so important to make it clear that street harassment isn't a funny joke. Rock on.