You okay darling? Give us a smile. – By @bellwoodart
By Elle Bellwood
You okay darling? Give us a smile.
‘Why do you not like catcalling? It’s a compliment.’
More than a handful of times, I have found myself trying to defend the fact that being wolf- whistled or approached in public is horrible. It is something all women experience in their life and now being in London; I seem to be experiencing it more and more.
On Thursday night, when I was travelling home, I was approached by three males on the train. They were ‘peacocking’ which means doing everything they could to get my attention. One of them (I could feel and see) was staring at me the whole time. Another one dropped to the floor and started doing press-ups on the train (yes, on the train) and the third one was generally arrogant and loud. It was late, and I was travelling alone, so all I could do was put my headphones in, put my head down and not react to anything they said or did.
Why is it that women have to experience this? We are continually made to feel objectified, sexualised and scared. It is in no way a compliment. Personally, it makes me feel uncomfortable and dirty. The sad thing about it is, whatever way you react, there is no happy outcome.
If you don’t respond, they will call you boring and keep harassing you.
If you respond nicely, they will continue to bother you.
If you respond negatively, they will say something like ‘well you’ve got fat legs anyway.’ Or worse, become aggressive.
The only thing you can do is hope they leave you alone or you leave the situation.
Here is a link to an experiment that was taken place in New York City. A woman walked the streets of NY in an ordinary outfit, hair and makeup, and they managed to capture over 100 counts of street harassment. It’s fascinating; please take a look.
Also, this is now present on social media, where you can’t escape it. Women receive messages daily from men they don’t know, and if they don’t respond, they end up getting hate for it.
I have friends that can’t use their real names online, have to keep their socials private and don’t post where they are because they need to keep themselves safe and have experienced extreme trolling and stalking in the past.
What I’d like to know is what do men get from this? How do they expect and want us to respond?
Imagine your approached by someone on the train and they say: ‘You alright darling, can I have your number?’
And you turn round, a big smile on your face and respond: ‘Yeah SURE WHY NOT! Let’s get off at the next stop and go for a drink?’
I genuinely believe the male would be flabbergasted because that’s not how they expect you to respond. If so, they know they are doing it to make you feel uncomfortable, and that is shocking.
Where can we go from here? Firstly women need to stay safe. I wouldn’t ever want to antagonise someone that has approached me. Try to get yourself out of the situation calmly and quietly. Secondly, young males need to be educated in schools about the importance of treating all genders equally so that they are aware of the potential intimidation they could cause.
Apart from that, we need to be aware of and be pro-female. I follow a great feminist on Instagram called Florence Given who main message is living your best life for you and not except poor behaviour and treatment from males.
And to all the males reading this, please don’t do it and if you’re in a group and you see some of your friends doing it, tell them to stop. It’s just not cool.