I will give you the dignity of addressing you with a gracious title. A dignity you decided was unnecessary when you started howling profanities at a young girl outside of the grocery story.
Part of me is fuming with anger. Anger that you thought you could address her in such a demeaning manner. Anger that she had to experience the pain of being objectified before she even learned to drive. Anger that she felt uncomfortable and learned what all young women learn as a form of self-defense—to smile, be nice, and quickly leave.
But beneath the anger, I feel pity. What has happened in your life that you boost your confidence by addressing young girls in such a manner? Who has hurt you that your pride is so shattered? Instead of protecting girls, you choose the option of exploiting them verbally.
But no matter your past, I implore you, stop this despicable behavior.
Cat-calling is demeaning. Period.
It is not a form of flattery. A woman is never hollered at and walks away feeling confident. It leaves us feeling vulnerable and exploited. There is nothing we can do in return. We simply smile and try to leave. At best, cat-calling is a thinly-veiled threat but, for most of us, it is simply a threat. We are reminded that you can verbally assault our bodies and, if you choose to, we have little doubt we could ward off a physical assault any better.
Anger is met with more name calling. Smiling is deemed an encouragement. So we are left in a weird place where we just try to pretend it never happens.
But it does.
I was inspired by the young woman who started taking pictures to show the world that these men are all around. There is no racial or economic boundary. I have watched in horror as men of all ages, races, and economic status have undressed me with their eyes and verbally harassed me.
We deserve better.
I want to clear up any doubt: We are not flattered, we are hurt. Your words hurt us. They do not leave us feeling sexy, they make us feel dirty and cheap. And, since that might not convince you to stop, they leave you looking quite pathetic in our eyes.
So be a man. Look women in the eye and compliment them genuinely on more than their body. Speak genuinely and tastefully as you would want your daughter, sister, wife, or mother addressed. Speak to them as if their older, Navy SEAL brother is standing beside her watching you.
To the men who already know this message, thank you. Thank you for honoring us. But please, don’t just stop with your own actions. Talk to the men in your life. Tell your friends that behavior is unacceptable. Intervene when you see a woman being verbally harassed.
Partner with the women in your life and remind them that they are beautiful and precious. Let them know they don’t deserved to be insulted and mocked in such a demeaning way. Remind them that their worth is not in their physical beauty but it runs much deeper. Speak words of life to everyone, men and women, around you. And then maybe tomorrow, we will live in a world where young girls aren’t humiliated on the sidewalk.