Don’t Tell Me To “Smile, Love”

This week is Anti-Street Harassment Week and if that means nothing to you, then you’re most likely a man, because 87% of UK women have been harassed on the street. 

Daylight, night time, rain or shine, women have at some point in their lives, been harassed. Whether that’s walking to work, sitting on public transport or even stood next to their partners. Women have been suffering with street abuse for far too long. 

What was once deemed as something we just had to “put up with”, charities and feminists are coming together to make a stand against cat-calling.

If you’re still wondering if you fall in the category of ‘harassed’, then let me ask you this; has someone ever spoken to you or behaved in the manner as referred to below:

  • “Alright love, give us a smile!”
  • “Good morning where are you off to?” (Person you’ve never met)
  • Stared at you/wolf-whistled as you walked past
  • Person (s) have made you feel uncomfortable/embarrassed or self-conscious 

Then (unfortunately) congratulations-you’ve  been harassed!

This is a big problem globally and something needs to be done about it.

I’m not sure how we sort out the above but I do think we need to raise awareness on how uncomfortable cat-calling can make people feel. I’m sure there are a lot of men who are unaware that their comments are harassment. And there is probably a lot of men who would label their wolf-whistling as just flirting. 

But women are not dogs. We don’t respond to whistles. 

Another thing I can’t stand is when guys ask me for my number. I appreciate your confidence for approaching but please don’t follow me for half-a-mile down the street. That actually happened to me last week. I even pulled the “I’m married card” for him to then suggest that I get a divorce. In the end I had to walk into a hairdressers to get rid of him. For the record, I didn’t have an appointment. I was just desperate to shake him off and leave me alone. In a nutshell, I was frightened.

I’m sure many women have similar stories and this is a sad reality that makes me feel sick inside. Why should we be made to feel uncomfortable, all because a man feels he can talk or behave in a derogatory way? 

When I ask my friends what they do when they walk past a cat-caller, pretty much everyone said they just smile or ignore it. One person (who was actually me) usually responds to harassers by barking after they’ve wolf-whistled at me. Sometimes I even stare back at them, whilst picking my nose. The expression on their faces is something I’ll  cherish forever.

The thing is, it’s not up to us women on how we should deal with cat-calling. We can react or respond in anyway we like, even if that’s laughing or ignoring it. At the end of the day, it’s all down to education. Men need to learn to respect others and be polite.

                        ______________

I know I’ve been referring to male cat-callers in this article, so just go be clear, I’m sure there have been women, who too have made a man feel uncomfortable. However if we’re talking statistics, then the majority of cat-callers are men. 

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