I was 12 when I first remember being catcalled. To this day, I can still clearly remember the face of the man. In my mind, it always plays in slow motion. He was riding a motorcycle, and as he passed me, he made a noise to signal for me to look at him, and when I did, he smiled. It was not flattering in any way. He creeped me out. He was maybe in his 30s. I didn’t have a name for it then; didn’t know I was being catcalled. But I knew it was wrong. It felt wrong somehow. I was 12. I was a short, skinny girl wearing a hoodie, pants, and sneakers. I remember being confused. I always have been. I never really got the point of catcalling. Why would they do that? Do they expect for women to actually go to them when they call them names. Do they really intend for it to be flattering, a twisted sort of compliment?
Then I remember reading from Time recently that it was actually more about privilege. Men are aware of how their actions can affect their victims, but they do it anyway and they’re sure to get away with it; it’s a privilege they’re automatically entitled to.
I was 18 when I remember being catcalled by a man sitting beside a truck driver while I was walking down a street. I can’t remember why exactly but I recall feeling especially frustrated that day. Getting catcalled wasn’t a new experience anymore, but that day, it really got to me. I almost gave the driver the middle finger, but the truck was at a stop and I was scared he was going to go out and do something to me, or even just laugh at me. I know it would have felt worse so instead I let it pass and cried the way home.
The way I felt that time was probably close to how Marie Laguerre felt. She shared how “It wasn’t the first time—that day, that week, or that month, It had been building up. I got angry and said ‘shut up.’ I didn’t think he’d hear, but he did.”
Unlike me, she actually took a stand. All she did was say shut up, and the man, feeling like it’s his privilege to catcall and get away with it, actually had the gall to be offended by her response and slapped her.
I would like to thank her, for standing up to her harasser, and for the people who supported her. At least it became a platform for the world to see how f*cked up the situation really is.
Enough with men being able to treat women like sh*t and expect to get away with it. No woman has to feel that way anymore. To men who act entitled, know this, we are through just letting it go. We’re not scared of you anymore. Just like Laguerre, we’ll shut you up every time.
Art by Marian Hukom
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