I spend a lot of time reading progressive and feminist blogs, which means I’ve been reading a lot lately about sexual harassment (as it relates to a certain fake republican presidential candidate) and following the Twitter hash-tag #mencallmethings. The #mencallmethings isn’t limited to things men have called women (or limited to women bloggers), but it is eye-opening, seeing the things people get called for saying, “Hey, maybe this feminism thing is worth examining…”
I don’t have too much of an internet presence, but as a woman who exists in the world, I have definitely had things shouted at me — both complimentary and not. Most commonly, I get “Hey girl, I like your shoes,” which is just obvious because my shoes are always fantastic. I’ll get “Smile, baby, it’s not so bad,” which always irritates me, because if I’m looking upset, it’s probably for a damn good reason. When it comes to insults, I have it pretty easy — most of what I get is some variation of “Fat skank.” These days, that has about as much impact on my psyche as being pelted with cotton balls has on my physical self. Anyone who calls me a “fat” anything might as well call me a “brown-haired slut.” The thing I’ve noticed about when people shout things at people is that it really DOESN’T matter what you are wearing. Once, someone shouted “WHORE!” at me out a car window while I was wearing a large, bulky hoodie, a pair of baggy jeans, and a wool hat. I guess nothing says “open for business” like an Illini sweatshirt three-sizes too big.
But I’m here to share the single greatest cat-call I’ve ever received. It happened when I was doing my year abroad in Athens, Greece. To be fair, the cat-calling was a bit more pronounced in Athens — generally very few days went by where I didn’t hear a “Hey baby, come here baby, I speak english baby!” Like mopeds and the dog-crap on the sidewalks, it was something I learned to live with and dodge. One day, I was walking from class with my friend T. I remember that T and I were having a pretty serious discussion about my dying grandpa* at the time, so I wasn’t really paying attention until T said, “Oh, God, I think these guys are going to talk to us.” I looked up and saw two young men, roughly our age, walking in the opposite direction on the same sidewalk. They locked eyes with us, and one of them grinned, pointed at himself and his friend, and said, “Hey girls, hey American girls, we’re the two biggest fuckers in all of Greece!”
That they were. They were also very confused by our guffaws, and hurried past the two American girls who were laughing at them.
*Advice to guys: Next time you feel the urge to catcall a lady, imagine she’s thinking or talking about a dying grandparent, and ask yourself how welcome your jackass comment would be.