femmecomplexe

Cat-calls and groping

In Anecdotes, Around the World on May 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12771938

Here is an article about the ‘attention’ women get in public; cat-calling, groping, whistling, shouts, etc., and how it’s a serious problem. 

It varies from country to country, as the article addresses, depending on the culture, and is therefore more problematic in some places than others.  What I find to be annoying is that this behavior is always ignored or shrugged off as being natural for men – ‘boys being boys’; showing off their ‘masculinity’ to other dudes – so we females either let it roll off our backs or take it as a compliment (I will go more into this point).  Yet, what happens when it makes us feel threatened or uncomfortable,  or even worse, when it DOES become threatening?

Living in the Middle East and Eurasia (Caucasus) region as a middle schooler and high schooler, I became an expert at ignoring men and trying to make myself invisible.  I dressed modestly, I never made eye contact, I learned to walk with my head slightly down and my chest in…and it helped that I didn’t have blond hair, but of course it didn’t deter everyone. 

When I returned to the US for university, I carried this mentality back with me, even though the situation and the culture is different.  Here, for the most part, the attention given is not as aggressive, and it only happens late at night when I’m with a group of female friends and were on the ‘club/bar strip’ of town. I don’t think alcohol should really be used as an excuse for this behavior, but it is, and for the most part, women are taught to accept this and ignore it as best they can. Or, that in some cases it’s a compliment.  I for one, don’t like to view it as such.  Sure, perhaps getting yelled at means that guy thinks you’re attractive, but when girls are made to feel they’re unattractive when they don’t get this attention (which is uncomfortable in the first place), it can be dangerous because it often leads to poor decisions. 

I like to go out dancing with my friends, which means I have to deal with unwanted attention at times – I started purposely trying to make myself less attractive: no makeup, long-sleeved button up shirts, looser fitting jeans, hair up, etc., which worked for the most part, but I shouldn’t have to purposely dress down in order to avoid inappropriate touching.  I like to look good for myself and my friends, and that doesn’t mean I’m going to sport mini dresses that barely cover my butt and 4 inch stilettos, but what I’m wearing should not determine the level of a man’s propriety or civility in the first place!

I have a couple of friends who enjoy this attention, and almost crave it for some reason.  Perhaps it makes them feel special and pretty, but it’s not always safe.  Ladies, you should not feel as though it’s necessary to be whistled at or stared hungrily at in order to feel attractive.  That behavior is not appropriate and you shouldn’t encourage it.  In many cases, there is no need to be rude to the men in question, when you’re alone late at night it is probably better not to, but you send a clear message to guys when you don’t respond to them. 

Respect yourselves, tell the men you care about to respect other women, and perhaps this mentality will change. 

*And I know not all men are like this, I have plenty of wonderful male friends who are horrified when they witness or hear about such behavior.

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