“IF YOU WERE US FOR A DAY…” (From Women Who Receive Daily Catcalls)

You may think this is a selfish request. Although it is impossible in real life (unless through a ‘certain procedure’), would you like to know how we feel every day? Just once, a day in your life if it is too much to ask.
Let’s start in the morning, when you – as one of ‘us’ – decide what to wear for the day. Is this too sexy? Is that too plain? Will you look beautiful? Will it be modest enough?
Let’s say, you decide to follow the demands of this patriarchal society on you – in terms of attire. But which one? Some say that if you dress up too plainly, no men will be interested in you.
However, if they think you are “too sexy” or “too provocative” (yep, those two are their most favourite terms), then they say you look like a slut. You are such a tease and clearly asking for it. No wonder men whistle and catcall you on the street.
Well, how naive that sounds. Even when you are all covered from head to toe, it can still happen and it does. They will call you names and demand your attention.
When you talk about that incident with people you know, most of them will tell you to “just ignore them and they’ll get bored”. You do that and guess what? They just will not stop. They think you are stuck-up, too good to respond to them – when in fact they just do not make you feel safe. You just get that weird vibe.
Then one of them tries to grab you, so you run off.
It does not matter if you look like a supermodel in a fashion magazine or a regular chub. They do that because they can – and they want to. They think it is normal and okay. No other people who notice what happens will defend you anyway. You are all alone in this.
What if you talk back? Will that change anything? What if they get angry and then hurt you? Will anyone come to your rescue? Will the people you know will still blame you for “antagonising those creeps” when you should know better?
Better? Better for whom?
Don’t expect them all to understand you. They will think you are just being overly sensitive, overreacting to such “trivialities”. Those creeps will say the same too or act defensive.
Perhaps they will act like they have no clue just what you are talking about, like the cowards that they are.
People you know might give you the same damn advice without acknowledging the real problem here. Don’t go out alone, especially at night. It’s dangerous. (But hey, those creeps still bug you in the daylight too, all so shamelessly.) Cover up some more. (As if that would ever really stop them.)
Avoid certain areas in the neighbourhood. (Oh, sure. So you have to accept and start treating them like wild dogs feeling territorial. What if they still want to take up your space, which they just normally do?)
Maybe that will make you start wondering: How do we deal with that every day? Why should we put up with it every step of the way?
Why won’t those creeps just get a life, instead of just hanging around the streets and watching women walking past? You simply mind your own business. This is your world too. This is as ridiculous as asking their permission for you to breathe.
Maybe I am asking too much from you. Maybe you only think it is not okay if it happens to someone you know or love, like your mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, or daughter. Maybe you would rather make them all stay home instead of letting them walk outside, even alone, like any human being – not just man – does.
Still, that does not solve anything. Not if the source of the issue is still there: creeps who think it is okay to do that, since – in their messed-up minds – their targets will always be MERE OBJECTS to toy with.
Too much to handle for you? I do not blame you. You have been on the privileged side of this man-made binary. You do not want to give up that comfort. I mean, who wants to suffer from social claustrophobia in an open space for 24/7?
At least, once you get this perspective, allow me to hope that you can do all of us here a favour:
Start respecting our personal space. This is not just your world. Tell your mates who still do these awful deeds to just stop. What they do to us on the street is not a form of compliment. We do not feel safe. Leave us alone when we choose not to respond. Do not make that an excuse to hurt us even more.
So, what do you say? Still think catcalling is okay?

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