Hi everyone. I’m here today with nothing as exciting as the beginning of my college series. In fact, I’m here to sort of vent and explain some frustration over something that just happened to me (though it happens often and too many women all the time, all over).
I just spent a sliver of my afternoon on the main street of my hometown. It’s a small college town that I’ve been walking around since I was 13 or 14 years old and I’ve always felt safe. Aside from occasional car horn beeps and the like, no one really ever bothered me. This has all changed recently and I’m incredibly frustrated about it.
See, in the past two weeks I have had a man follow me to my car, two men wait outside of a building I was in for me while speaking about me as if I wasn’t there, and numerous beeps and hollers from cars.
None of these were the first time I faced any kind of harassment on the street but this is starting to hit me. I don’t feel safe in my own town where I was born and live. I don’t feel safe to walk a 3 minute walk to the coffee shop. I don’t feel safe in the library, a place I have loved since I was a toddler, where those two men followed me. And to be frank, this is bullshit.
There is nothing intriguing about following a woman. There is nothing sexy about objectifying her for her to hear. No one will be interested in you. This does not work. All it does is cause young women to feel unsafe in towns and cities, communities they live in or those they’re visiting, all over and at every hour.
I should not have to have developed a sense that someone is following me or looking a bit too long. I should not have to call someone as I’m leaving a building in the hopes that that will make anyone looking to hurt me, harass me, or bother leave me be. I shouldn’t want to carry a knife with me to try and defend myself if god forbid something happens to me.
So, what is my message with this rambling piece? To women, I’m here for you. Let’s listen to one another and tell our stories without shame. There is no behavior or look that draws this attention. I’ve been harassed on the street in jeans and sneakers as I have in a romper in heels. Let’s share these stories to begin healing from the negative energy and frightening episodes these monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily encounters bring into our lives.
And to men, examine your choices. I know #notallmen but there are obviously men that do these things. They’re your friends, family, acquaintances. And unlike women, you have the power to stop them by simply saying “That’s so lame” or “Did you really just do that?” It’s not enough to remind the human garbage that does these things that women are their family, their partners, and their friends. It’s not enough to hear it from women apparently. So now it’s time to step up.
This isn’t okay. This isn’t “boys being boys”. It’s just ridiculous.