Caution: naughty language ahead!
Today I parked in my the parking lot behind my apartment after yoga. I had flushed red cheeks, racoon eyes, messy hair and was wearing sweat-soaked Lulu.
That’s how I always look after a hot power Vinyasa class.
I got out of the car, wet towel, mat and all, and was promptly hit on by a man doing some construction at the adjacent building.
“The young man that just went by (yet there was no one else in the parking lot) told me that pretty lady in the green car (ME) was gonna go inside and fix me somethin’ to eat.”
He grinned at me and winked.
I beg your fucking pardon?
For real? Did you actually just say that? To me?
You found it appropriate to demean me as a person of value, indicate that my purpose is to do “women’s work,” and for whatever reason, decided that the fact that I was female meant that it was acceptable for you to speak to me like that?
No. No. And No.
This is certainly not the first time something like this has happened to me. Sadly, it won’t likely be the last. Most dishearteningly, however, is that it’s not even particularly unusual for any female because culturally, it is considered acceptable for men to tactlessly hit on women anytime, anywhere and with almost zero repercussions.
Women, however, cannot, will not, and do not, generally share that unwarranted freedom, nor (at least in speaking for myself) do we wish to engage in such repugnant conduct.
Come-ons, cat calls, gestures, unwanted physical touch, even photo taking are all forms of sexual interest procured by men and received by women on a daily basis in settings of every kind: walking down the street, getting a coffee, riding a bike, even at work.
Those pathetic appeals for attention are remarkably absent of couth—bad manners at their finest and most proudly displayed and venerated. In fact, men often encourage one another to do this, providing laudatory public feedback post haste. To me, this is reflective of an egocentric, archaically patriarchal hierarchy of humankind that has persisted well beyond expected limitations.
And yet, when we, the woman, stand up to this behavior, when we refuse to dismiss it, when we call men out on their actions—
We are often called bitches.
I cannot wrap my head around exactly why as a collective society we continue to allow this behavior when we know it to be wrong. It is nauseating to consider that we need and seek validation from each other at such a low level of existence.
And, more provocatively posed, why do we let slide even more so if it’s done in a bar or club?
What makes it more deserved in that setting?
I’ve been guilty of this myself. If I’m out with my girlfriends for the night and a man comes up to me, drops a cheesy pickup line and offers to buy me a drink, I’m going to politely dismiss him and continue talking with my friends, shrugging it off as “expected but irritating” behavior.
If he is loud, makes an obnoxious comment about my appearance or makes a pass at me, I’ll move, react, seek help, and…still probably be called a bitch.
Because…why, exactly? If I’m at a bar does that mean I am “asking for it?” If I’m dressed in way that makes me feel pretty, does that make forward advances welcome? When I decline, even nicely, why does that still make me the bad guy, and you simply “a guy?”
I have a nine-year-old daughter, a tall and beautiful one who doesn’t look her age. She acts like one, she dresses like one, she doesn’t wear makeup or grown up clothes or anything that might call attention to her ever growing signs of womanhood—but I know she’s just about to face this same problem of inappropriate male attention.
She’s right around the corner from getting hit on in a much more vulnerable and threatening way.
I’m not okay with this…any of it.
Is anyone, really?
Men: I ask you, politely, to knock that shit off. It’s not funny. It’s not cool, and it’s not acceptable.
Women: stand up for yourself. We can only change the status quo if we stand together in no longer condoning this behavior. And also, let’s be sure to avoid hypocrisy and engage in it ourselves, shall we?
Parents: don’t teach your sons to do this, and show your daughters how to gracefully not accept it. Let the cycle end here.
And society—well—how ‘bout some back-up here, please?
Author: Michelle Sweezey
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: screenshot from Youtube Video