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Always on Alert: Women and the War on Cat Calling and Harassment

Why do men cat-call out to women?  Do they think there is a reward in it for them?  That we may blush and feel complimented?  Do they think we walk around and wear clothes just for them?  Do they think we care?  What's in it for them?  I have no idea.  I never feel good after being cat called.  NEVER.  I don't feel complimented.  I feel objectified.  I feel like when I'm just being myself walking down the street that suddenly I'm a sexual object to be taken over.  Like my existence is to be gawked at and won.  None of these things make me feel good.

I went to a dive bar to watch football.  I wore a Jersey and shorts and a pair of Toms.  I thought I looked nice but definitely didn't feel like it was at all suggestive.  I know there's beer and booze and drunk men and that certain interactions happen at a bar.  But this was not a typical day.
A few dudes walked by me as I entered the bar:

"Yeah, GO CHARGERS!"  (ok fine, im wearing a jersey, woo)
"Hey Chargers Jersey!" (hi, wassup) 

Later I left the bar, sober and needed to walk 3 blocks to reach my car and this is what happened as a homeless man harrassed me and followed me to my car. 

"Hey there, short shorts 
(he expects me to turn around) 
Damn looking good. Chargers, eh
(I keep walking)
Where you going CHARGERS JERSEY 
(I keep walking, faster)
Oh so you aren't gonna say Thank You? 
(keep walking as he follows me, I sense he is getting angry, am I in danger?)
Where you going?  Come here, pretty thang.
(I walk ever faster and trip.  He laughs) 
You okay honey?  
(I was sober, he continues to laugh and follow me.  I consider running to my car for the last block but decide against it)
You're probably drunk.  You aint gonna say anything? 
He laughs maniacally 
(He just wouldn't stop.  I get into my car and I feel incredibly abused and glad I am in my car with doors locked.  If he thought I was truly inebriated than would he have tried to attack me?)  

Didn't matter who it was, I refused to acknowledge him.  Didn't matter if he was black or white, homeless or not, drunk or sober.  My fear was that if I turned around and engaged him in any way, he would feel accepted and pursue a conversation.  I just wanted to leave and to get into my vehicle.

We never had eye contact.  I never saw him.  I only felt his eyes on me, his voice following me, his steps coming closer.  

I tried to walk faster.  I felt a little scared that my ignoring him would make him angrier or cause him to follow me longer.  But I chose silence.  My skin was crawling.  If I was rude or yelled back, that would probably just encourage him further or I would be called a bitch, which I didn't feel like going through.  Men don't have to worry about these things.  Walking in fear for 3 blocks to their car, being followed and objectified.  Fear of retaliation, fear of being accosted, in every parking lot or public place.  Men walk around freely without that fear.  A million thoughts ran through my head.  I imagined terrible outcomes.  I imagined running.  I imagined getting attacked.  I felt real fear and for good reason.  I imagined calling 911.  I felt unsafe and vulnerable.

All I did was walk to my vehicle.  And I was harassed. It's been two days and I still feel gross about it.  I walk around in Beverly Hills and I never get yelled at.  I like that.  I like being around people but being in my own protected bubble at the same time.  Maybe that's hard to do in metropolitan areas like NYC or places where you take the subway.  Maybe I am just not used to it, but should I be?  Is this something women must endure?  I wanted to share this experience.  I am curious to know how often this happens and if it happens only when you are alone.  Or if it's also when you are with your children, friends or boyfriends.  Why do these men make us feel like we owe them something?
We don't owe you our smiles or Thank Yous. 
 Leave us alone. 

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