Living in Chicago, I deal with street harassment, basically it seems, everyday. There’s always some creepy guy at the corner whistling. There’s always a guy willing to block my path to ask for my number. And let’s be real. I’m not bragging, because it’s not a compliment; it’s a real form of sexual harassment and it really needs to stop.
Although I wish I could respond to all my cat-callers and tell them why they are THE WORST, I can’t. It’s not only because I’m not brave enough (my voice always gets stuck in my throat when I get scared; even if I wanted to talk, I probably couldn’t); the truth is, it’s dangerous for women to engage with street harassers. Need proof? How about the woman in Detroit who was murdered after she turned down a strangers request for a date? Or the 23-year-old German woman who was killed after defending teens being harassed? Or this MAN who got attacked after trying to defend a group of women being harassed?
For my own safety, I walk past shouts aimed at me because I’m too scared of what could happen if I actually respond. But, from the safety of my home and keyboard, here’s a few of the smart-ass things I wish I could say to all the guys that have dared to cat call me in the past:
1. “Hey baby, give me a smile!”
You understand that you’re literally the last person I want to smile at right now, right? You’re embarrassing me. You’re making me feel unsafe. You’re reminding me that to you, I’m nothing more than a piece of ass walking for your enjoyment. You’re making me want to run home and lock all the doors. Why should I smile for you?
2. “You’d look so much prettier if you smiled!”
Actually, no. I’m like the Olsen twins. I look better smiling with my lips closed. That’s how I chose to smile. But of course, you’d never know that because you’re a complete stranger. Also, you’d look prettier if you pushed your hair back. And put on lipstick. And a maxi dress. Oh wait, you don’t want my fashion advice?
3. “Hey baby, you got a boyfriend?”
Yes, I do. He’s super cute. You want to see a picture? Here’s one of him when he took me out to dinner last week. And another one when we went to the beach. Oh, and here’s one of him and his cat. Here’s one of just his cat, she’s soooo cute. Here’s another of his cat being sleepy… Hey, where are you going?
4. “I want to lick your —–”
Yeah, of course. My —– is/are awesome. That’s a totally normal desire for a healthy fully-sexually functioning adult. Me? I want world peace. I’d like the whole situation in the Middle East to be resolved. I want someone to #bringbackourgirls. I want #JusticeforMikeBrown. And earlier today, I just wanted to walk to work without getting sexually harassed. But we don’t always get what we want, do we?
5. “Can I have your number?”
Why? You don’t need my number. I have a boyfriend. If I gave you my number, I could just text you saying no over again. You wouldn’t be able to use my number to set up a date with me. That would probably cause you to swear at me, call me a slut for giving you my number in the first place. So instead of going that whole route, how ‘bout I save us both the trouble and just walk along as if I didn’t hear you ask.
6. “What’s your hurry, babe?”
You. You’re the reason I’m hurrying. I saw you eyeing me from a ways back and it made me nervous, so I thought I’d speed up and you might get the hint I didn’t want to talk. But I guess that didn’t work, did it?
7. *Wolf Whistle*
*Respond by releasing the arctic wolf that I personally own for such times*
8. “Damnnn. I mean, dammmmn.”
You know, I really feel compassion towards people with Tourette’s Syndrome, but the way you waited to swear until the moment I walked by just makes me want to punch you.
9. “Where you working, girl?”
You know, I am not going to tell you because I honestly think you might come to the place of my work and continue to harass me there as well. I will say I am not “working the streets” as your words imply, because, for one thing, I am wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. I’m not sure if this outfit confused you, or if you’ve been shouting this at every woman walking by the street corner you’ve been hovering around, but I’d suggest being a little more discreet while trying to solicit a prostitute since it is still technically illegal in this city.
10. “Nice Legs / Tits / Ass!”
I already assumed you were looking at my legs / tits/ ass from like half a block back, but at risk of being overly egocentric, I gave you the benefit of the doubt, hoping maybe you were just deep in thought, staring off into the distance when my legs / tits / ass entering the frame. But then you opened your mouth. I wanted to think maybe you weren’t “that guy.” But congratulations. You are now officially “that guy,” and you’re the worst.