The other day I was walking the short two blocks from my office to Union Station to grab lunch when some man yelled very loudly at me “I love the way you wear that skirt!” And then “Yeah touch that skirt!” in response to me almost subconsciously grabbing at the hem of the skirt and tugging to make it more appropriate.
My face was flushed, my heart thudding, and I was embarrassed, because I was sure people were staring at that girl with the giant ass and the skirt that rides up whenever she walks.
In that moment, my years of higher education, my hard work, my intelligence, my strength meant nothing, because I was just a faceless thing with some female anatomy attached to it. He had the power, and I became nothing.
Then I got mad.
I was dressed for work in a knee-length black pencil skirt, a t-shirt and a belted cardigan – a perfectly conservative and appropriate outfit – and no one, certainly no man, had a right to make me feel like I was slutty, or inappropriate, or an object to be leered at in public.
And then I really was ashamed, because I should have said something. I should have informed him – just as loudly and belligerently if necessary – that sexual harassment is not okay. That it is against the law, and I don’t have to take it.
Too often I think we fall into the trap of ignoring it, because boys will be boys, right? Because that’s just how men admire women, and we should learn to take it as a compliment. Besides, if our butts weren’t so big or our boobs weren’t so bouncy or our legs weren’t so long, they wouldn’t notice us, and then where would we be? We’re nothing if we’re not fodder for the sexualized male gaze.
I am so over that bullshit. Being verbally harassed in public, having parts of my anatomy leered at and commented on by strangers, feeling helpless because I’m a female and such is my lot in life – I’m done with that shit.
I will speak up for me now, and I will speak up for you if I witness it happening to you. We make this stop by correcting one ignorant, entitled jackass at a time. They no longer have the power – we are not sex slaves to be paraded about for their pleasure. We’re worth more than a cursory glance to determine how deep our cleavage goes. If we’re not silent, we can shut them up.