Catcalling and street harassment are a real fucking problem.
How do we know that?
Because women fucking tell us!
Nevertheless, some men apparently still find it very difficult to put themselves in women’s feet, to empathise with what they are hearing. So, really, while it’s true that women do not owe men any explanations, it’s also the case that the more examples, elaborations, and analogies that there are out there, the better.
Reddit user RadicalChic dropped the mic the other day on the matter, with a pretty fantastic analogy on why many women do not like being hit on in public. You can find the thread here, but below is RadicalChic’s answer in full:
Women get hit on all the time - regardless of what we are doing - and not only is it goddamn tiring, we never know how the person will react.
Because just saying that it’s tiring isn’t enough for women to be believed, here’s a scenario some of you might be able to empathize with: You know how awkward and annoying it is when someone on the street asks you for money? Imagine if people bigger and stronger than you asked you for money on a semi-regular basis, regardless of where you are. Most of these people are harmless, but you’ve heard a lot of stories of them getting aggressive when rejected. You might have even experienced it yourself once or twice (or more).
And now you’re at the grocery store after working a long, stressful day at work, just trying to get your shit done and leave because you’re tired and over it all. You’re trying to choose the least dried looking rotisserie chicken when you randomly glance across the store and - oh fuck - you just locked eyes with someone who was clearly staring at you. Maybe you instinctively smiled, maybe you didn’t; sometimes it doesn’t matter, because some of these people need the barest amount of recognition to feel entitled to your money. What this person looks like doesn’t matter, what matters is that they’re bigger and stronger than you. This is the last thing you feel like dealing with and you silently pray they don’t approach you. You try to keep your face neutral, maybe a little scowl, purposely make your body language closed off and busy looking. But they do approach, because this person is literally ignoring every single one of your “fuck off” cues because of that one cue they decided to interpret as a go ahead.
They start talking to you and now you’re locked in a conversation you could barely give a fuck out about with someone you don’t care about it, and now they’re clearly skirting around asking you for money. Your excuse is itching at the back of your throat, though if you say it too soon the person may balk and turn it around on you. However, if you say it too late, the person may accuse you of leading them on in thinking you’d give them money.
On top of this, you’re monitoring the person’s tone, body language, words, and mannerisms. Does this person appear stable? Are they respecting your personal space? If they’re being too aggressive or inappropriate, you might need to be more assertive to show that you have boundaries and being too passive could make you look like an easy victim. But you can’t be too assertive, because they might get upset and, again, they are bigger and stronger than you.
Finally, 3 minutes in, the stranger gets to the point and asks you if you have any money and your excuse is out immediately: “Sorry, I don’t have any cash.” This is a lie - you do have cash, you’re just avoiding the awkward situation of explaining why you do not want to give them cash, even though it’s entirely within your rights to not want to. The stranger smiles and tells you it’s fine, and to have a nice day. The interaction ends.
And most of those interactions end that way. Maybe the person is more awkward or pushy, but for the most part the person leaves and you can be on your way. But sometimes they don’t. You’ve had people call you a stuck up asshole. More than one person has tried to physically intimidate you. Once, someone tried to grab your wallet to prove that you had money. You have a friend that was beaten and robbed after they told someone no.
So even though that particular person wasn’t shitty about being turned down, you still had to go through all the exhausting mental steps of predicting how they would react and adjusting your response accordingly. You had to deal with it even though it was the last thing you wanted to do, all because you decided to exist in a public space and appeared to have money.
This is what women deal with constantly. It’s exhausting and annoying, and I’m tired of women being criticized for saying it’s exhausting and annoying.