This morning, I was walking down the street when someone called to me from his car: “Hey, Big Butt!” This was meant to be a compliment of sorts. I don’t mind people saying that my butt is big (I mean, it’s sizeable, that’s just a statement of fact), but what bothered me is the absolute lack of rational thought that went behind this approach to getting my attention. OK! You approve of my big butt! You would probably like to touch my big butt. Stating the fact of my big butt as if it’s my name doesn’t exactly bring me around to your cause.
I’ve always thought that the best way to get someone to pay attention to you isn’t to just compulsively screaming out descriptions of body parts at strangers. Yes, it’ll get their attention, but my impression is that the point is to hold attention, too. That being said, I’d like to propose a list of catcalls that would get to the heart of my motivation as a person and keep my interest in the conversation moving along. Keep reading »
1. What is that noise? Also, can I note that I hate mouth sounds? Chewing, sucking, slobbering, puckering, just everything. I’m not going to get clinical and call it misophonia, but I have to make a conscious effort to not get enraged when I hear mouth sounds. Therefore, hoping for the best… Keep reading »
The awesome ladies behind the non-profit Hollaback have turned to art as a method of fighting back against street harassment. Hollaback NYC held a “Girl Power” art workshop in a Brooklyn park recently which encouraged its tween and teen participants to create visible street art that spoke out against the catcalls and harassment many women face every day.
Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, known for her amazing anti-harassment public art project called “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” was on hand to encourage the girls to write their thoughts about catcalling using a Brooklyn wall as a canvas. Fazlalizadeh’s posters included phrases like “You Are Not Entitled To My Space” and “Women Do Not Owe You Their Time or Conversation” alongside female faces with bold, defiant expressions. The work is the result of interviews with women about their personal experiences with catcalling. Keep reading »
This post is reprinted from The Huffington Post with the permission of its authors.
What’s the biggest myth about street harassment? That men of color comprise the majority of offenders.
It’s a myth as old as this nation: the idea that Black men are more likely to be sexual predators — especially of white women. Consider D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth Of A Nation,” that builds an entire narrative on the idea of the black brute. From the Scottsboro boys to Emmitt Till, history as well as popular culture, the justice system and virtually all other facets of American society still hold the deeply entrenched notion of Black men as people to be feared.
But the myth doesn’t stop with history. In a recent New York Times article, a White woman living in a mostly Caribbean community (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) gets physically assaulted by a Latino man and wonders if it’s her fault, as if moving into a mostly Caribbean community was the city-dwellers equivalent to “asking for it.” A few years ago, a woman, also writing for The New York Times, reported on her experience doing aid work in the Congo and hearing repeatedly from other European aid workers that sexual harassment, violence, and rape in those areas “is cultural,” instead of, as she duly notes, “a tool of war.” The myth that Black and Latino men are innately sexually aggressive is one that extends beyond our national borders. Keep reading »
Next week, I’m celebrating a BIG birthday: 30! In acknowledgment of the fact that I’ve spent over half of my 20s working at The Frisky, I’m going to reach down deep into to archives and revisit some old posts. I’ll examine what I wrote at the time and how that has or hasn’t changed. If you have any suggestions of old posts you’d like me to revisit, tell me in the comments or shoot me an email at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Earlier this week I wrote about “Why I Like Being Called A Slut In Bed.” Next up is … Keep reading »
Yesterday I was taking an early morning walk around my neighborhood before work. It was still pretty dark out, and as I shuffled groggily past a gas station a guy got out of his car and whistled at me. “Hey sweetie! Where you going?” he said. I kept my head down and kept walking. “Where you going?!” he asked again, getting noticeably irritated at my unresponsiveness. I picked up my pace a bit, trying to appear aloof and very sure of myself, but inside I felt anything but. Maybe I should have been more assertive, I thought as I turned the corner. And then I started questioning my own instincts: Maybe I was too rude. Maybe I should have at least smiled or waved or something. It’s embarrassing to admit that I was worried about not being polite enough to a strange man who demanded to know where I was going, but it’s true. Getting catcalled or harassed on the street always makes me feel this way: insecure, nervous, unsure of myself and my reactions.
I thought about something my dad told me awhile ago: “When someone violates your boundaries, they forfeit their right to politeness. You get to set the tone.” So as a reminder to myself and every other woman who isn’t sure how to deal with street harassment, here is a list of totally acceptable ways to respond to catcallers. Take your pick:
Keep reading »
After moving to Philadelphia from Fort Collins, Colorado, artist Hannah Price started experiencing street harassment for the first time, and she came up with a novel way to respond to it: she turned her camera on the men who catcalled her. In a fascinating interview with The Morning News, Price describes how she takes the portraits: “Once a guy catcalls me, depending on the situation, I would either candidly take their photograph or walk up to them and ask if I can take their photograph. They usually agree and we talk about our lives as I make their portrait.” Keep reading »
A Minneapolis woman who is now pretty much my hero seems to have gotten fed up with the helpless feeling that comes along with being leered at on the street. She posted an open letter to the man who shouted nasty comments at her from his car on Craigslist Missed Connections, basically voicing the internal monologue of every begrudging catcall recipient there ever was.
The woman, who calls herself “the blonde you shouted at,” tells it like it is and explains just how damaging the dude’s actions are with statements like:
…Thanks to you I would spend the entire train ride home feeling scrutinized and gross because you didn’t have the willpower or maturity to keep your mouth shut; that your wife and daughters or at the very least your mother deserve better than a cowardly man who shouts at women from the safety of his car.
Keep reading »
Yesterday, I debuted my new Phillip Lim for Target sweatshirt in What Are We Wearing and on the streets of NYC. The pop art-inspired crewneck sweatshirt says BOOM in bright red letters on the front and I seriously dig it. But there’s one problem. Yesterday, no less than three men were inspired to integrate the word “boom” into their catcalling repertoire. I heard the following as I ran errands and then made my way home after work:
- “Mmmm, mmm, boom boom boom, girl.” — guy in a car who pulled up next to me at a crosswalk
- “Ooh, BOOM. I like that.” — dude walking towards me, who emphasized his point by lasciviously licking his lips
- “Damn, I’d bet you’d make me go boom. What’s your name?” — guy behind me in line at the deli
So yeah, consider yourself warned. Still gonna rock the hell out of my sweatshirt, even if bitch face becomes its necessary accessory.