Last week I was hanging out with a few male friends who live just down the street from me and at the end of the night two of them offered to walk me the two blocks home.
I get cat-called pretty often. I grew up in New York City, and now live in Pittsburgh, both cities full of idiots who think that it’s an effective means of getting…Hmm, getting what? I’ve always wondered that. Lets try to figure this out shall we?
Why would I cat-call someone? As a means of achieving what goal? If I saw a hot guy walking in front of me and I called out to him to get on his knees and blow me what would his reaction be? Probably not to do that. So obviously in my rational brain that’s not my goal. If I really wanted that outcome then I would go about it in some way that was more likely to yield positive results.
What would really happen if I asked him this…favor? Probably he would just get really uncomfortable. So that could be my goal. It’s a simple one. Your classmates figured it out in middle school and it worked pretty well then. Remember how they would tease you? Your mother said if you pretended not to be upset they would get bored and go away? They got a real kick out of seeing you cry and call for the teacher, remember? Simple, stupid creatures.
Pretend I’m a total stranger, and I’m asking you to get naked so I can have sex with you, from across the street. Or maybe I’m shouting from my window. Or maybe I’m standing right next to you on the subway platform and I might have a knife.
Are you more likely to show me your junk or are you just REALLY uncomfortable right now?
I’m going to assume then that the goal is just to make me uncomfortable because, well, that is what would happen.
When I walk alone at night it’s like when we were young and played that the ground was lava and you had to get from one chair to another as quickly as possible. Houses are chairs and streets are lava, driveways are crocodiles, hedges are volcanoes. The outside belongs to “the enemy’ and every second not behind a locked door is one where you are in danger. The forces might get you with no warning and no remorse. And you are at their mercy. You should just look down and walk as fast as possible, drawing as little attention to yourself as you can. I spend so much energy every night trying to figure out which side of the van I’m passing has the sliding door on it, that some man might jump out, put a bag over my head and stuff me into. But only when I walk alone.
When I walk with my guy friends I can be myself. I can walk slowly. I can look up. I can look at the sky. I’m not passing through dangerous territory, trying to make it to my destination before the anyone can spot me. I can enjoy the moonlight instead of focusing on which side of the van is safer to walk on. Strange that only my male friends can make me feel this safe though. Especially considering that for a few of them, if someone did come at us with a gun, it would be me protecting them.
But back to the other night. On this particular night walking with two male friends, I got cat-called. Some frat boys in a car turned the corner and one stuck his head out the window and screamed “Show me your boobs!” before zooming off like a prep school coward into the distance. The two guys who were walking me home had probably never been on the receiving end of such a comment and got instantly worked up. They shouted after the car and flipped the bird, trying to protect my honor. I didn’t think, I didn’t get flustered, I just flashed the car, a now 75 or more feet away.
My friends were shocked. And honestly I can’t really describe why I did it. All I can say is that in my opinion those guys were out to see me cry more than see my tits. Or perhaps this kid wanted to prove to the rest of the car how cool he was. They wanted to get under my skin. But they don’t have control over me if I don’t let them. They have no say over what I do, and if I wanted to air my tits as a sign of defiance in their general direction in the dark of night, so be it.
The truth is that there is no right answer for what to do in that situation. I want Superwoman to fly in, pick up their car and drop it upside down from 50 ft in the air. Then she should drag their bodies out of the car and strip them naked for the benefit of the EMT’s, reporters, and passersby. That would be true karma.
And it can be said that I reinforced their bad behavior by giving them what they asked for, but this way at least I felt like I won. And in my universe it doesn’t matter how they feel. They’re not allowed feelings or sympathy. What matters is that I feel fine. And if giving them what they were pretending to want was the way to do that then so be it.