To the group of pigs that followed my sister and I out of the food court entrance to the Columbia mall today, you done did it. Thanks for your display of misogynistic harassment that boiled my anger enough to warrant a post on why interactions like these are just not okay. Cat-calling is not okay. Never has been and never will be.
Before I delve into reasons why, I should enlighten you all to the meaning of cat-calling and how it has evolved over the years thanks to mankind. What was once meant as a disapproving raucous call targeting a speaker, or performer at a theatre now means any whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to address a woman passing by.
Men may argue that women should be flattered when called after, but they fail to understand the emotional distress it causes in women (and men, for all of you that will choose to focus on the fact that I am presenting a one sided claim as an attempt to excuse your deliberate refusal to accept that this is a reality for 98% of women in the US).
Cat-calling warrants unhealthy levels of stress as a result of the fear and anxiety women experience. It’s a chronic stressor, which is stress that is caused over periods of time that cause negative effects on one’s mental health. Trust me, women do not experience cat-calling once or twice over their lifetime, over a year, over a month. The more women choose to venture out of their homes into public settings, the more likely they are to experience cat-calling. The stress experienced in these situations causes women to feel threatened and after a few times they may even feel powerless.
Women should not be afraid to walk outside of their homes because of the chance of them experiencing cat-calling. We shouldn’t have to worry about wearing makeup, wearing shorts because it’s damn hot outside, or putting an effort into our hair because looking presentable has somehow become an open invitation for harassment. I think not.
We’re tired of the excuses created by society so that men can continue to live their lives without any sort of accountability for their actions.
Teach your young boys that yelling things like “I just want you to sit on my lap” when a girl is minding her business and refusing to acknowledge your inappropriate hollering is just not okay. Teach your college aged boys that if a woman wants to be approached, she will signal her interest to you. If she doesn’t do this and you are not formally introduced, do not follow her saying “excuse me” accompanied by your boys because now you’ve scared her and lost all chances of your “love story” ever happening. Teach your grown ass men to keep their wandering eyes off of young girls, even college aged because that’s straight up creepy. Teach your men in general that women are not objects to be gazed upon or yelled after.
This whole thing bothers me because I noticed today that my sister freezes up anytime we approach a group of more than two men. She shouldn’t have to experience anxiety when walking through the mall especially when she is in the company of her older sister. We shouldn’t have to avoid walking in the direction of a group of boys out of fear of being hollered at.
We should be able to walk around the mall, into any store that we damn well please. We should be able to enjoy our time together on a warm June day, but instead we both left the mall infuriated and annoyed because men are allowed to do what they want without any societal repercussions. Thanks society. Do better.