August 16, 2013

Hootin’ & Hollerin’. ~ Emily Maillet

Cat calling—it ain’t cool.

Recently, an article was published in the Indy newspaper—a local, NC Triangle Area publication—by a woman who was complaining about being shouted at, harassed and cat called by men while walking, running, entering grocery stores, driving, etc.

I know what you’re thinking (because I always know what you’re thinking). You’re thinking, “Hey lady, you can’t help it if you’re hot and everyone wants a piece of you, right?! Count your blessings, we should all be so lucky.”

But I can tell you from personal experience that this phenomena occurs regardless of size, race, creed and destination, whether or not you’re having a good hair day. Being hooted and hollered at when you’re trying to get in a relaxing walk, jog, workout, or jaunt to the mailbox is not flattering, it doesn’t boost my confidence—it’s just plain annoying.

Many people know that my part time job is walking. I love walking and I can usually muster up the energy and gusto to walk no matter what, despite my old age, whenever and wherever. Walking is delicious. On days when I need to work out stress and emotions, or when I’m just passing the time and looking to spark a freight train of thoughts through my brain, it’s the perfect medicine.

When I lived with my parents in Gastonia, there were no sidewalks per say, but I managed to devise my own nine mile walk on road shoulders, and secret passageways, which looped around the city and gave me a variety of scenery. I also apparently provided some scenery for the locals.

Never in my entire life have I been honked at, shouted at, whistled at, and verbally harassed as much as in that town. I dare say, that would never happen up north. At least, not in my 27 years of experience.

I’ve been pulled over by a cop while I was walking (a story for another day), but I have not been the object of someone showing off their vocal chords and amplified pick up lines. I tell you what, it’s pervasive down here—so much for Southern hospitality.

Perhaps I have magically turned into a beautiful princess moving down here and now I am the apple of all the gentlemen in all the land?

Mmm… yeah, I don’t think that’s it.

Fortunately, upon moving to Raleigh, I rarely find this happening to me anymore—although it did happen today coincidentally, as I was pondering this very topic. In a demented way, before this incidence today, I was starting to wonder if I had lost my strut. Was I not attractive anymore? If no one hits on me at the gym these days, does that mean I’m becoming soft?

See how society has me trained?

It’s derogatory.

While one might think that being whistled at is a compliment—it’s not. I can even remember personally wishing someone would do that very thing when I was younger, and I felt cool if someone yelled “Hey baby!” at me and my friend Abbey when we were walking to go get ice cream, choosing to believe it was me they were praising and not her.

I believe it, I believe that you do look really sexy in that blouse today, but when someone shouts it to you, “Check out dem titties!!” it’s actually quite demoralizing.

You see, the guys who are doing the yelling don’t care if you’re a living, breathing, moving being, or a chick with a bag over her head, they just see legs, identify that it’s a member of the female species and raise up their war cry out the driver’s side window. While I’m thinking about how I love sparrows, and noticing the comforting blue of the sky, they’re informing me—loudly—that I’m nothing more than a piece of meat with a pony tail.

It makes me feel a twinge of anger inside, and makes me dislike them, which makes me dislike myself for disliking someone, because I don’t dislike anyone.

It’s pointless.

Does it really accomplish anything? Do you think girls like that? Does it turn us on? Do you think that is how you’re going to meet your dream girl? Dream on, cowboy.

Dudes who do this are probably so dumb that they are mistaking middle fingers for ring fingers. I don’t know what it accomplishes for these hicks, other than a feeling of overarching power and a sense of freedom. But it encroaches on the freedom, happiness and peace of those it’s inflicted upon.

So man up and quit it!

It’s uncouth.

I think I’ve belabored the point aplenty, but I’m going to take a moment to honestly think of whether or not anything polite can be shouted from the window of a car to a lady…

Yeah, no. I’ve got nothing.

I can think of politely saying, “You have beautiful eyes.” Or perhaps “Your neck is that of a swan,” or maybe even “Would you like to join me for a fancy dinner upon the morrow, m’ lady?” But pretty much anything else that you holler while beamin’ in your Beamer is going to be rude and disgust me.

So save your breath. I understand your constitutional rights to the Freedom of Speech and all, but what about mine? To life, love, and the pursuit of happiness? Please don’t tread on my happiness with your big mouth, while I’m taking steps in a positive direction and self-advancement.

It’s obnoxious and unsettling.

Sometimes, being a woman is scarier than being a man. Sometimes we’re worried about not being strong enough, or being unable to defend ourselves.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and not everyone is nice or has good intentions. Personally, when someone shouts at me, or honks their horn at me, I about jump out of my skin like a snake with fear because I don’t know what on earth is happening.

Thanks for jolting my perfectly tame nervous system into fight or flight mode, jerk.

I’ve often thought about carrying mace with me when going for a walk or run. I know for a fact that mace in the eye does not feel good. Is that the kind of world we want to create? A country where mace in the eyeball is as common as a pair of mismatched socks, rather than a special, twice a year Thanksgiving and Christmas apple pie spice?

I was really happy to see the article that woman wrote in the Indy Week. I’m applauding her raising of awareness. Unfortunately, for both she and I, our audiences are not exactly the type that need to be reading these words.

But perhaps by shouting out our own opinions, change can begin to occur.


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Assistant Ed: Ben Neal/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Emily Maillet