July 1, 2019
I’m working on doing better with listening to my body. Today I’m working at the studio and decide I need a walk, both for fresh air and to refresh my thoughts. It’s warm outside but comfortable, and I’m enjoying myself enough to want to do a full three laps around the building before going back in. Yay me!
Lap one is good. Lap two I push a little harder. But halfway through, as I’m rounding the opposite side of the building, I hear a man call out.
I pretend I don’t hear him, take a swig from my water bottle, and continue on.
I also stop walking before lap three and go back inside.
A few thoughts went through my head. First was annoyance at being yelled at. Even if meant as a compliment, hollering across a parking lot at strangers is not a good look. Then I thought about how if I walked around again, he may try even harder to get my attention without considering that maybe I don’t want HIS attention (because do they ever think about that?). This means I’m subject to further yelling and/or being physically engaged, which leads to even more annoyance. My third thought is, “Damn, I just want to walk in peace without having to think this much about some dude yelling at me.” And with that, I go from feeling annoyed to just being discouraged and drained.
This is what many women and female-bodied queer folk have to deal with constantly. Simply being in public leaves us at the whim of (mostly) men who think that we exist for their consumption. In my younger and more naive days, I’d have been flattered by this occurrence, feeling good that someone thought me attractive enough to want to get my attention, my self esteem bolstered by seemingly positive affirmation from the male gaze.
I’m glad I’ve grown the phukk up.
Our bodies do not exist to satisfy the desires of others. Walking around outside should not leave us open to having to field off unwanted yells, hollers, catcalls, etc. Those aren’t compliments. If nothing else, they are insults, because they show that we do not warrant the respect to be properly spoken to like fellow humans…we’re just pleasurable objects to be screamed at in the most base forms of animalistic communication. And too often, our consent to not engage is taken away, because to deny a man attention can lead to derogatory comments, insults, threats, or much worse.
Some folks will read this and think, “Geez, it’s not that big a deal. It was just two words” But it is. It always is. Because words lead to actions, actions that we cannot control and from which we may not be able to protect ourselves.
Because “HEY BEAUTIFUL” can very easily, and very swiftly, turn ugly.