I love walking home from work. It takes me a little less than an hour to get from Subway to my house, and I go at a firm clip, singing to myself and paying little to no attention to anyone else around me. (Except cars. My balance has never been exceptional no matter how much I argue with it, so I have to make sure I stay alert or I’ll topple into the street. That would be bad).
But of the times I make my happy way along the road, the most irritating are when the guys, who are big and safe in their cars, decide to pay attention to me. The first time it happened, it was a lovely, sunny day about three o’ clock in the afternoon. I was suddenly startled by a shout of, “HEY!”, and look over to see a grinning stranger staring at me from a truck at the other end of the street, waiting for the light to turn green. My mouth was full of my half-price sandwich and I went on my merry way. Next thing I know, this car that I did not recognize scared me out of my skin as its driver leaned on the horn as he passed me.
This is not fun. It’s not like it happens every single time I walk home, but considering I’ve only done this a few times, it makes up a pretty good percentage of my leisurely strolls. I feel like they think I’m an object ready for purchase.
Heck, I know I’m pretty. Even in my faded sweatshirt, no make-up, and my hair flat on top and the rest flying everywhere in the wind. But that does not give a man the right to call me as he would his dog. I have feelings, a life, and as an individual, it is wrong for them to believe they are allowed to objectify me. Just because I’m a lone chick does not mean they can catcall and examine every part of my body as if admiring a racecar.
But today as I worked, two ladies that have come in before entered, laughing and talking. They had brought a young man that was teasing them and smiling, and I treated them as I would any customer, with kindness and a healthy dose of fun. I was doing the first lady’s sandwich — after she totally didn’t realize she needed to tell me what she wanted, which wound up being a hilarious situation — and the guy exclaimed, “My gosh, girl! Your smile is immaculate!” I’m hardly ever awkward, but I informed him that it was probably the retainer I had to wear that day and bared my teeth to show him the blasted pieces of plastic. He said, “A retainer doesn’t make a smile.” He paid me a compliment, but he was so respectful and kind while doing it that I understood he didn’t have the poorer intentions of the other men that I’ve come in contact with. He seemed to only want to say something nice to a girl he thought attractive. That, guys, is how you should treat women.
As I left that day, the aforementioned experience was cast into sharp relief against something that happened as I made my way across the parking lot. I needed to cross from a few parking spaces to the street, and there was a car turning right in front of me. Politely, I stopped and waited for the blue hunk of metal to pass, neither noticing or caring who was driving it, until the car slowed, then stopped, as the man inside turn to ogle me. I carefully avoided eye contact, and after a moment he continued — slowly — down the parking lot, and I went at a good, brisk pace to my sidewalk domain. Later, as I was reaching home, I swear a man was this close to getting into a car crash from how far he was craning his neck to examine me. It’s disgusting, folks.
Here you have two examples of how some men treat women. I know plenty of females that behave the same way around guys, and that’s just as offensive.
I’m an individual with thoughts, feelings, and dreams. So are you. It is not right that others disregard that perfectly blatant fact for their personal amusement. It’s normal to check someone out. You see a cute person and your eyes are drawn to him/her. It’s kind of a knee-jerk reaction, and I readily admit that I do it all the time, whether I realize it immediately or not. The difference is that I remember that these guys have very important souls inside them. They aren’t a display in some window at the mall. I have no right to disrespect them by ignoring their personal space.
I’m not sure how to express the intensity of my feelings on this subject. I believe that as children of God we all deserve to be treated as such. I am not a body, or a face, or a voice. I am a woman striving to conquer the life I lead and come out on top, same as you. How dare you treat me in such a demeaning fashion?
Please put a stop to this. It’s ridiculous. And if someone has treated you like this in the past, remember that you have the power to let it hurt you or give you strength. They had no right to ignore who you are inside to pay attention to your assets. Show them you’re more than that.
Perhaps I should be sorry for the rant, but I think it a necessary thing to say. I’ve never asked for the attention I have been receiving, and after this I’m going to go back to ignoring it.