As I passed two guys on the sidewalk, one started to shout, “Giddy up!” repeatedly. I found it really unpleasant, but I didn’t say anything at the time.
A little later, I was walking back that way and I asked the man whether he’d been shouting that at me. He had, but said he was “only joking”, which is a pathetic excuse, but he also said twice that he was “really sorry”. I was pleased to think he’d realized that it had been unpleasant for me—but that was just wishful thinking on my part, as he followed up the second apology almost immediately by asking, “Can I have a kiss?”
I was furious and swore at him as I walked off, but he just kept on screaming, “Can I have a kiss?” after me, over and over again. Once I was about half a block away he resorted to ear-piercing whistles instead.
Another guy, walking by me, remarked that I shouldn’t take any notice of him, that he was just a jerk. It wasn’t the ideal response, but I still appreciated the sentiment. I just wish decent men like that would publicly call out the harasser instead.
I’m 35 years old and 6’1″, and I’ve been cat called with varying frequency for 20 or so years, but these very explicit exercises of male power over me still make me feel intensely frustrated, unsettled, and belittled. I so wish there was something, anything I could do in the moment that would shift the power dynamic in these situations, so that I wasn’t left feeling so damn powerless.
Location: 110th St. and Lexington Ave., New York, NY
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