For Real? You Think I’m Trying To Sleep With You If I Talk To You?
For many women, cat calling is a normal part of life. We get used to, and sometimes become insensitive to, the calls, beckons (and desperate) pleadings of men, young and old, who attempt to profess their love, interest, or desire to copulate with us. Men, on the other hand, rarely have to experience this. I doubt few guys I know have had to walk through a group of girls and fend off comments like “Baby, come here!” “Can I get your number?” or “Damn, shorty you fine. Let me stick it in your butt.” ( And yes, I’ve overhead this being said to someone, unfortunately.)
I’ve had men follow me for blocks and even get out of their cars all in the name of trying to get my attention. The worse, however, is what happens if you don’t respond. We women have to learn how to ignore the “Oh, you think you better than us?” and the “You not even that fine anyway, b****h!” Dealing with street harassment and catcalling is something we learn from a very young age. Sometimes I’ve avoided certain areas, crossed the street, or purposely looked distracted just to avoid the uncomfortableness of being hit on incessantly.
Recently, I had an experience that really cemented the reality of this all.
After attending an event in Manhattan, my best friend Coretta, my sister, and I were walking behind two young men, who, like us, were making their way to the subway.We commented among each other how nice the men looked and how they had a really cool style. What I did next probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do being that it was late and these men were total strangers. Still, I decided, in support of spur of the moment “research,” that I wanted to pursue my idea.
I called out to the men, “Hey, do you mind if I asked you a question?”
The two men stopped and turned around.
“Sure,” they responded.
I continued, “What would you think if I randomly went up to you and started talking to you?”
One of the guys answered very matter-of-factly, “I’d think you were trying to sleep with me.”
Wait, What? Haha Funny. This had to be a joke.
I repeated, “No, I’m serious…. What would you think if a random girl came up to you and started talking to you?”
The other guy responded, “I’d think she’d want to sleep with me.”
“Do you mean you think she’s interested in you?” I asked. I was trying to give him benefit of the doubt.
“No, sleep with me as in she wants to have sex with me,” the other friend replied.
The two men looked at each other and nodded with approval. I, on the other hand, was flabbergasted. I muttered a quick “Okay, thanks” and continued walking. My sister and friend were also confused. Did they really just say that?
What surprised me was that I only asked what would he do if a girl “started talking to you?” These men aren’t representative of all men, but their comment shows the cultural and gendered attitudes toward cat-calling. These men assumed that because a women “talks” to them she was basically looking for sex. This is not indicative of all men, but it is indicative of the cultural and sexist attitudes that exist towards women in our society. For men, cat calling is power. For women, it’s something else.
What if the switch was flipped and women started doing the majority of cat-calling and “hollering” that we are subjected to on a daily basis? Men might think it was fun at first…. lots of potential women “who want to sleep with them.” After a while, I’m sure they would start to feel very uncomfortable, nervous, and maybe even anxious? After a while, they’d want it to stop. They wouldn’t want to hear the ” you not that fine, anyway” or wonder “What if this girl doesn’t leave me alone?” What if this girl takes it too far?”
I thought back to those two men and how I simply walked away. Why didn’t I share with them my thoughts? Why didn’t I educate them on how wrong their comment was?
Honestly, there are times when I do appreciate the “You look beautiful today” or “Hey, Gorgeous” but no man should ever think that if I respond to him that I want to (or am trying ) to sleep with him. That’s just ridiculous.
Have you ever had a WTH cat-calling moment where you wished a guy realized how inappropriate his actions/words were?