Sunday, March 8, 2009

Perspectives on Street Sexual Abuse

I wanted to start a discussion on female perspectives on street sexual abuse. This is a place where you can contribute comments regarding:

-Recounting a story about when you experienced street sexual harassment OR If you have trouble thinking of a personal story, you could also talk about an experience that you heard a friend of yours had with regard to street sexual harassment

-If you had any immediate reactions to the harassment (i.e. shouted back to the perpetrator(s) or felt embarrassed and walked away quickly, etc.).

-You can also discuss how you feel about women being "cat called" in general (in case you don't want to share a personal anecdote)


  1. I usually feel really guilty and shameful after beingf cat-called. I feel like it must be something about my behavior, dress, etc. that is inviting this attention. For example, I recently walked to a friends house to meet up before going out. I was wearing a dress and boots. I can recall numerous cars honking at me, yelling various "cat calls" out their windows, etc. I initially felt like this was my fault, like I was asking for it by wearing a dress.

  2. I was out this past weekend for a friend's bachelorette party and we started out a girl's place in Silver Spring and had to walk about a half mile to the metro as we headed out to the city. Almost immediately, men driving by honked or whistled at us, and it happened multiple times before we reached the station.

    Being the person that I am, I yelled a succinct "f*** you" and moved on with it. But I started talking with one of the other guests as we walked and she said, you know, some girls like it. And, I think in my bubble of feminist & like-minded friends that I forget this fact because it goes against so much of what I believe.

    There's something about this whole notion of women's bodies as public property for men (and sometimes other women) to comment on that still really bothers me. And maybe this kind of gets to what Sarah Jane mentioned above. Sarah Jane and I, and anyone else, have the right to go out in public, wearing whatever we please and to do so without being harassed. But somehow, somewhere along the way, it became acceptable in the bar/party culture specifically to verbally (and sometimes physically) harass women - and then increase that harassment if she turns you down.

  3. I have experienced the "cat call" various times. For example...this is a stupid one... but walking around the Watchung lake...dressed in SWEAT pants...I remember getting honked at. Whenever this happens, I just roll my eyes and silently curse at the person! Is it really necessary?? Another time I was in Barcelona, walking back to my hostel with 3 other girlfriends. Our hostel was in a sketchy area and we had to walk through all of these back alleys and guys were hanging out there at every corner. I was wearing a dress and wedges and definitely heard a bunch of remarks. Instead of being angry, I was more so scared. Maybe it was because of our surroundings (scary back alleys) and the fact that we were 4 girls surrounded by men, but I will never forget that experience.

  4. I feel like I always hear "cat calls" on the street and I have since I was in middle school. I developed very young so I guess I got used to it quickly. I guess when it happens I just pretend that I ignore it, or actually do ignore it. Sometimes I pretend I'm talking on my cell phone or something so the guy actually gets the impression that I don't hear him. Sometimes I do hear him, but I forget it soon after. When I'm with a girlfriend and it happens sometimes we roll our eyes at each other. It just has become a somewhat normal thing to hear. Not that it's a nice thing to hear.

    I can't think of a specific experience, but it happened a lot when I was in Europe and obviously more in cities. Its usually older or foreign men.

    This reminds me of that scene in sex and the city where Miranda confronts the guys who are calling out to her. I would never do that. Maybe it should, but it doesn't hurt enough for me to actually speak up about it.