Everyday Sexism: Catcalls and Street Harassment


Every time I step outside my door to go about my daily business, I brace myself for the inevitable catcalls and various street harassment. I am557264_423393704397930_1730387465_n used to these catcalls. Catcalls are a constant reminder that I am a woman in a patriarchal society. However, I still get angry at the catcalls and the unwanted, unsolicited attention thrown my way on the street. I still get riled up when I am accosted on the street by strangers who have no qualms about asking me to smile for them. Even though these are daily occurrences, I still get angry and sad each time it occurs.  For example:

Just this morning I was rushing to make an appointment, when out of the blues, a guy suddenly stuck his coconut shaped head mere inches from my face and asked “Where is the smile?” I had to take a deep breath to resist the urge to make a snarky comment like “Your coconut head just smashed a month’s worth of smiles from my face”.

It still beats me why men think every woman who dared to walk the street owe them a smile. I bet this toady, ignoramus man would not dare stick his coconut head on the face of another man he hardly knows on the street and go “Where is the smile?” He would probably get punched in the face and people would say he deserved to be punched. But, if I as a woman had reacted that way or even caused a scene, I would be called an overreacting, sensitive, ungrateful bitch. Yeah, it’s a sexist, chauvinistic world alright, different rules apply.  All I could do was side-stepped his coconut head and walked away from his toady eyes without a comment. I was not about to let one of the many chauvinist ignoramuses walking the street make me miss an important appointment. The sad part is, most times, women do not even have the choice to just walk away as my next sexist encounter shows.

I moved house not too long ago and signed up for the gym about ten minutes’ walk from my place. Problem is, the ten minutes’ walk to my gym is always marred by catcalls and men blaring their car horns to get my attention. A few days ago, a guy honked at me, he tried to chat me up while driving. When I did not give him the attention he wanted, he parked his car and started walking with me to the gym. Gist of the matter, he felt I should be pleased that my beauty was captivating enough to make him turn around and accost me. At this point, I stopped long enough to give him a lecture on why I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about his opinion of my body.

  • Man, the fact that you find me attractive enough to leave whatever it was that you were doing or supposed to be doing, just so you could give me unsolicited, unwanted attention, does not add anything worthwhile to my CV or person. The fact that you find me attractive enough to ogle does not in any way boost my ego neither does it pay my bills
  • You know nothing about me beyond the curves you obviously lust after. It is just my body, not my whole being.  If you stood on top of the roof to sing praises about just how attractive you find me, I wouldn’t be impressed.
  • I am not impressed when strangers lustfully look at me and tell me I am beautiful. Just same way I cannot be bothered if anyone disdainfully looked at me and told me I am ugly. Point is, your judgement of my beauty or lack of beauty does not move me. It does not concern me. It does not validate me. It is your burden or pleasure to bear, not mine.

Needless to say, this did not go down well with my ogler.  He went on about why I should no longer refer to him as a stranger, since now that we are talking, we are no longer strangers. Hmm, really, we are now best chums cos you forced your attention on me on the street? I don’t think so.

This persistent admirer wanted to at least know my name. He emphasised that people who met on the street can become friends. This is an 318461_10150505434059409_883031157_nargument street harassers often use. To prove a point, I handed him my business card. It has my details including my blog, YouTube channel and my book. I figured that if he was interested in my person, the least he would do was check what my interests are via my social network sites. This is one effective way I use to get guys off my back. He did call to ask if I would go out for a drink or meal with him and my response was that he should give me a reason why  I would go out with a stranger and what we could possibly discus at this meal. He was like, oh we aren’t strangers anymore and he further got on my nerves by telling me how when a man is chatting up a woman, he should do this or that. I asked why he could not just see himself as talking to another human being instead of a gender. I take offence when people relate to me as a gender rather than a human being.

Also, it was obvious he had not bothered to check out my interests despite having my card. So what exactly would we talk about on this proposed drink/dinner date? Or was I just supposed to sit there and watch him ogle my body? This just proves that going out with him for a drink or meal is never going to be about knowing me, it is just an opportunity to ogle at a closer distance. I would loathe to have to sit through a meal spending the whole time explaining feminism 101 to a date. I don’t need the hassle. Well, he did ask if he could call again after checking out my profile, thankfully he never called. Did he check out my write ups and got put off? I don’t know. Most probably, like most chauvinists, he realised he was not gonna get anywhere with this mouthful, lecturing feminist.

Is there a possibility of having a relationship with any of my catcallers? While it is possible to become friends with someone we met on the street, I know for sure I would not be friends with someone who catcalled me. Catcallers are about one thing and one thing alone, objectifying women. I do not wish to be objectified by anyone. I am a human being not just an object of fantasy for someone to get off on. As catcallers are basically strangers, I wouldn’t risk my safety with a strange man who feels the best way to get my attention is to catcall. Catcallers are often a pain in the ass as my next sexist experience shows.

Just a few days ago, I was coming from the gym, all sweaty and looking forward to a good shower when this random guy on the street ran after me and said “Hi”. I responded with “Hi”, thinking maybe he wanted to ask for directions. He started the usual “You look good, just smile” silly chat up line. Well, no need to go into a lengthy lecture with this asshole, so I just moved on and tried to ignore him. He persistently followed me and asked if I lived local. At that point, I stopped and told him that I really would like to walk alone. He was like “OK, I mean no harm. I will just be silent and walk with you”. Walk with me? No thanks. I told him I don’t need a stranger to walk with me. When he realised I was not going to move an inch, he suggested that I walk in front and he would just walk behind me. I knew there was no way I was gonna walk the four blocks to my house and bring out my house keys with this guy tailing behind me. So I just turned back and walked the opposite direction. I was just a minute or two away from my house but I had to walk the opposite direction. It took me another 10 minutes to get home all because an entitled asshole thought it was ok to harass me on the street. After all, to him and his ilk, I am a woman who needs to smile for them and handover my details including my home address when they demand it. Cos well, I am a woman and he is a man who finds me attractive and that is all the credentials he needs to demand my attention and details. The sense of entitlement is so sickening.

Unfortunately those guys feel no qualms about being bad role models to the younger generation as my next encounter with yet another sexist asshole shows.

I was combining window shopping with a bit of business on a busy high street, when a group of middle aged men started whistling at me from the opposite end of the road. I just walked on but a teenage boy was made by his lousy uncle to cross the busy road, run after me so he could get my phone number. He caught up with me and said “Please my uncle wants you to give him your phone number”. I was like WTF! And true enough, the uncle was grinning at me from across the road with his buddies. I asked the boy if his uncle was physically handicapped, which might explain why he felt he had to send his nephew to dash across a busy road just to get a woman’s number. He said no, he was not handicapped, so I stopped long enough to explain to this teenage boy why his uncle was such a bad role model. I told him how catcalling objectifies women and why it is not a good thing to do. I also told him never to emulate the behaviour of his uncle and his bad friends who obviously have no respect for women. The teenage boy seems the gentle kind, he was just around my son’s age and it broke my heart that the adult black men in his life were already teaching and normalising such nasty behaviours around him.

It is sad when young ones emulate this bad behaviour as yet another of my nasty catcalls experience shows. There was the time I was headed1176182_530574063696968_72844424_n for a TV interview, as I was approaching the studio, some young guys in a speeding car honked and screamed “wow booty”. Next thing I knew, they threw their almost but certainly not empty canned drinks at me. Was I surprised? Sadly enough, I wasn’t. Well, it is all part of the process of normalising the dehumanisation of women. To those men, I am a woman and therefore just an object.

Unfortunately, the nasty habit of catcalls is not limited to cis men only. A few years ago, I had a nasty experience at an ILGA conference in Vienna. I was going to my hotel room after a session, when someone sitting amongst a group of fellow participants at the hotel reception started making catcalls at me. I told the offending guy to cut out the catcalls. He was a Trans Female to Male going through transitioning at that time. He seemed to think my annoyance at his catcalls was due to transphobia, something like me not considering him man enough to catcall me. Transphobia my foot! You don’t get to throw catcalls my way whatever birth, assigned or preferred sex or gender you are. This isn’t about your sex or gender identification, it is about your attempt to objectify me based on my sex or gender identification.

I have seen some dykes try the ‘masculine’ crap of catcalling women as a way of trying to ‘prove’ their masculinity. Identifying as a dyke or transitioning into the gender you are comfortable with, is not an excuse to imbibe the patriarchal culture of sexism. Catcalls is about power and control. Your ‘dykism’, gender identification or transitioning is not about power, it is about being who you are. Do not conflate transitioning process, gender identification or being queer with patriarchy.

Patriarchy deprives women of so many things men take for granted. For example, I love taking long walks especially on quiet streets, I do get writing inspiration especially for poems when I am out walking. Unfortunately, taking a walk can sometimes be a burden.  When I moved away from my quiet area to settle in the busier side of town, taking walks became a burdensome nightmare. I would step out on the streets and immediately the harassment would begin. Unwanted catcalls, guys tagging along insisting I smile for them while they run a commentary on my body. Their thoughtless, entitled attitudes often leave me in a foul mood. Walks that were supposed to be mentally and physically rejuvenating often left me drained and angry from all the street harassment. As a woman, I don’t get the luxury of walking in peace on the street. Men, their catcalls and unsolicited attention make taking walks a nightmare rather than the pleasure it should be.  And for the ten minutes’ walk to and from my gym, blaring car horns and catcalls are a fixed part of my gym routine. The ever present attempt of men to dehumanise women manifests in every car horn and catcall.

You might think your catcalling is harmless, but it is not.

When you objectify us, you dehumanise us.  You can’t empathise with us because we are nothing but objects of pleasure to you.

When you objectify us-

  • You feel entitled to force yourself on us, after all we are just mere objects for your pleasure.
  • You feel entitled to throw your drink cans at us, after all we are just mere objects for your pleasure.
  • You feel entitled to command us to smile, whistle at us, after all we are just mere objects for your pleasure.
  • You feel entitled to demand that we have sex with you, after all we are just mere objects for your pleasure.
  • You feel entitled to rape us because we are just mere objects for your pleasure.

When we don’t comply with your demands, you feel justified to force us to do your bidding because you see us as objects for your pleasure.

You might think that we should be flattered that you noticed us, gave us your time and attention, but really we are not.

  • I am not flattered that you see me as an object.
  • I am not flattered that your eyes are closed to our shared humanity.
  • I am not flattered that I am nothing but a body to you.
  • I am not flattered by your objectification of me.
  • I am not flattered that you think women are on earth for your pleasure.

Guys, grow up! Women are not a piece of meat on show for your pleasure.422634_2822985968404_1512899802_n

Stop the street harassment.

Stop the objectification of women.

Stop the catcalls.

We are not flattered by your sense of entitlement.

Damn your everyday sexism!

 

Related links-

Stop telling black women what to do with their hair or skin!

Avoiding Ableist or Sexist Language Won’t Make Us Less Fun!

Comments

  1. Kevin Kehres says

    FWIW: I’m often asked to “smile” by total strangers. Most often when I’m deep in thought about something. Once when I was about to pick up my dad’s ashes from the crematorium. I did not yell “fuck off” — out loud.

    So, from my experience, that request is pretty egalitarian. And it pisses me off every bit as much as it pisses you off.

    The rest of it — yeah, I’ve never dealt with any of that. That’s sexism through-and-through.

  2. johngreg says

    Ya, at an airport, waiting for a flight to a Minitrue conference, I once had a six year old girl (her mom told me her age) tell me to smile ’cause she didn’t like seeing people who look unhappy.

    I immediately tweeted her assault to the Gender Harrassment Youth League, and she was correctly taken away to Room 101.

    All is good now.

  3. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    johngreg @ 3

    Leaving aside that being told to smile by a small child is in no way comparable to being told to smile and followed down the street and hounded by a grown man…

    …you’ve really just exemplified Yemmy’s point. This kid told you to smile because she doesn’t like seeing people who look unhappy. It had nothing to do with whether you were actually happy or not. Someone who cares about your happiness strikes up a conversation and maybe asks you what’s wrong and how/if they can help. Someone who tells you to smile is asking you to perform an emotion/attitude so that being around you will be more comfortable for them.

    An anomalous encounter with a six year old at an airport can be brushed off. When it becomes a daily occurrence, it’s at best tiresome and, when the people demanding you smile get belligerent if you’re not into being a performing monkey for their amusement, it can be frightening.

  4. says

    I thought John Greg flounced for good, shame he couldn’t stay away but I guess it’s a good demonstration of the same sense of entitlement and inability to act in a rational way some men exhibit around women! Good post Yemmy, sorry you have to deal with so many assholes offline and on it seems.

  5. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm -- Thanks for explaining that simple fact to @johngreg, although i doubt he would allow reason to sway him from his bigoted, childish antics.

    His ridiculous comment just reminded me of what an asshole he was and obviously still is. All it took for him to saunter back here after announcing his departure (many times, i might add) was the unbearable thought of a woman who thinks she does not owe any man on the street a smile. He couldn’t let that affront slide now, could he? And what better way to counter that ridiculous feminist thought than share his ‘frightening’experience of that one nasty time when he was ‘assaulted’ by a six year old girl. He obviously hasn’t gotten any better in the brain department, he couldn’t even come up with something worth biting into.

  6. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @oolon , I was surprised to see @johngreg flounced back to do a little MRA dance. I thought he had flounced out of my blog (for the umpteenth time), for good! He couldn’t just leave it at ‘tigzing’ my twiiter handle like some of his pit mates did the minute this post came up. Time to check my moderation mode again. He is obviously an habitual flouncer, as he once confessed in one of his flouncing fits, he can’t help himself. Since he can’t, i might as well help him stay out.

  7. Sonia Green says

    I agree. When someone has a different opinion than me and expresses it using humor and irony, I also think they’re an asshole.

  8. Jackie says

    Thanks for writing this Yemmi. You broke it down very well. So well in fact, that I cannot believe that the idiot trolls still don’t get it. They get it and they are pissed off that you are standing up to it and speaking up about it. So, they’ll throw straw men at you and deny street harassment has anything to do with misogyny because if they admitted there was a problem, they’d have to recognize what bigots they are and how fucked up it is that they hate the idea that they need to change.

  9. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Depends what the opinion is. In this case the opinion is “your reaction to being commanded to smile and followed, jeered at and harassed by strange men on the street is as out of proportion as if I had reported an innocent and thoughtless comment by a small child as harassment.” It’s a false equivalence designed to be dismissive and silencing.

  10. Sonia Green says

    In my country, we call these first world problems and scratch our heads that anybody could be angered by a smile request. Shut up with your blind privilege. Obviously, wanting someone to smile makes a person a rapist; that’s not prejudiced at all.

  11. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Sonia Green- You have finally been noticed, you can cut off the act now and say what really is on your mind. Never mind that your faux attempt to politely jerk all over my post Reverse Racism and ‘Black on Black’ Racism are Nothing But Myths did not get you the desired response you wanted, in fact it did not get you any response and you were never called an asshole. So if a certain someone is been called an asshole here, there is ample evidence of his asshole status. Some type of posts do flush out certain kind of people, you know like the false Reverse racism and Sexism posts. Relax now, you have been noticed, BTW, with it comes moderation mode. I am not a fan of trolls.

  12. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    In my country, we call these first world problems and scratch our heads that anybody could be angered by a smile request.

    In my country, we don’t expect people not to care about X just because Y is worse.

  13. Alex Moore says

    “In my country, we don’t expect people not to care about X just because Y is worse.”

    Seven of Mine, unless of course you happen to be in the stereotypical privileged class, right? Then I can be ungodly cruel to you in very physical ways and if you say anything, you’re a whiner. I am biased, though; when people ask me to smile, I smile at them, and they smile back, and it’s the start of a friendship. Nobody’s ever raped me for smiling at them.

  14. Alex Moore says

    I notice there’s some complaints on here about silencing the opposition, but the opposition seems really quiet. Reminds me of how the Christians would persecute people and then pretend to be persecuted, up to the point where gay marriage is looked at as anti-Christian persecution.

  15. Alex Moore says

    As a POC with POC friends, we all had the conversation and agreed, we want you to stop talking for all of us, Yemisi. Your eyes do not see the same things that our eyes see and to assume they do is foolish. Your anger at other people having problems or taking to you or trying to relate to you speaks worse of you than it does of them. All the manufactured outrage is bullshit. Like those young guys who like to act tough who freak out when a gay man talks to them. Because you’re doing it to an apparently straight man, that makes it okay. Humanity’s so stuck on borders and boundaries, eventually we’re all going to be medically asexual and won’t have to worry about this anymore. We also won’t breed then, and friendships will be a thing of the past.

  16. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @ Sonia Green- I noticed you are having a commentary diarrhoea, feel free to purge, of course all the crap you are vomiting goes straight to the trash can. I ignored your comments on my post Reverse Racism and ‘Black on Black’ Racism are Nothing But Myths because i recognise the type who suffers from the “Dear Muslima” syndrome.

    I always make sure i took time to expatiate my points in my blog posts without needing to resort to explaining myself in the comments section. If you are confused about Rwandan genocide, xenophobia or ethnic rivalry and want to call it racism and discuss it under my post which basically has to do with the Reverse Racism myth, I do not owe you a discussion or an education. If you feel the blog post does not provide you with answers, which could be because the post is not about xenophobia, remember there is always Google. Google is your friend, use it. Calling me names and dissing my blog won’t provide you with the answers, answers which you ironically shy away from.

    Now, imposing your “Dear Muslima” dilemma on a post about Street harassment just so you could cry “Hey what about the white guys meme” or so you could narrate this pathetic story

    For the record, guys always want to talk to me. One guy spoke to me through a window. He said, “I’m not going to jump in there and rob you, or rape you!” Poor guy looked as though that’s all he got from the world was a rape expectation. I said, “I never expected you would, sir.” Poor guy almost cried, and didn’t rape me.

    is really ridiculously pathetic.

    Your inability to recognise white privilege or male privilege is not my problem, it is your problem. My not acknowledging your “Dear Muslima” dilemma is not about my ego or bigotry as you call it, but about your inability or most likely, unwillingness to acknowledge a problem that exist but which you do not want to comprehend cos, comprehending it would make you feel uncomfortable and might need you to change your perspective or attitude.

    You forced yourself to get noticed on the post here after your failed attempt at the other post. And with it came a diarrhoea of rubbish from you. I was not surprised, i made the right call to ignore you initially.

    I have a comment policy, and your trolling means you have violated this comment policy and therefore earned yourself a place in my trash can. You can groan all you like about people with Masters’ degrees, who twist words in ivory towers, you are the one with the stomach ache, not me, deal with it, just not on my space. Ciao! 🙂

  17. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Alex Moore @ 14

    Seven of Mine, unless of course you happen to be in the stereotypical privileged class, right? Then I can be ungodly cruel to you in very physical ways and if you say anything, you’re a whiner.

    Citation needed.

    I am biased, though; when people ask me to smile, I smile at them, and they smile back, and it’s the start of a friendship.

    Good for you. Maybe someone will give you a cookie. I get told to smile all the damn time because I don’t do it much. Know what nobody ever does? Nobody ever asks me why I don’t smile much. Know what that tells me? That they don’t care why I never smile. That it never even occurred to them to wonder. They’re literally asking me to set aside my actual feelings in order to make my presence more tolerable for them. And according to you, it’s unreasonable of me to have a negative reaction to that.

  18. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Alex Moore- Your comment went into moderation because you were a first time commenter, it does not mean your ‘opposition’ voice was silenced. It might come as a shock to you but, I moderate my own blog at my own convenience. And those who were deliberately put into moderation/spam box have a back history of violating my comment policy, not because they were in opposition.

    You wrote

    As a POC with POC friends, we all had the conversation and agreed, we want you to stop talking for all of us, Yemisi. Your eyes do not see the same things that our eyes see and to assume they do is foolish.

    Alex moore , aka “POC with the POC friends” (BTW, I didn’t know we POC count the number of POC friends we have, lol!)
    Funny, i did not get the invite to the initial meeting that nominated/ elected me (i hope with pay) to be the spokesperson for people of colour. And i certainly never got my first pay check from this service i was allegedly nominated/elected to do.

    Now, you are informing me that there was another conversation involving all POC where you all decided i should stop talking for POC. Hmm, did i miss the invite to this conversation/meeting or was I as a POC and the subject of your meeting deliberately left out of this all important conversation? It is reasonable to assume that for you to get together and have the authority to decide I should stop talking for you, you must have first nominated me to speak for you.
    Damn, this your ultimatum is so ridiculously funny, childish and it tells me a lot about the thinking capacity of the person who left such pathetically immature remark on my blog. Still laughing. 🙂

  19. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Alex moore , aka “POC with the POC friends”, You wrote-

    Your anger at other people having problems or taking to you or trying to relate to you speaks worse of you than it does of them. All the manufactured outrage is bullshit.

    OK, let’s get this straight-
    1-You are angry that i am angry because random guys stop me on the street and demand that i smile.
    2- You are angry that i am angry because strange guys honked at me to the extent of following me inside the gym
    3-You are angry that i am angry because men I hardly know insist on chatting me up and walking me home
    4-You are angry that I am angry that a non cis guy catcalled me at a supposedly safe LGBT event
    5-You are angry that I am angry because men catcalled at me and one sent a teenage boy to dash across a busy motor road so they could have my phone number
    6- You are angry that I am angry because some young guys in a speeding car shouted “Wow Booty” at me and threw their canned drinks at me. Secure in the knowledge that I couldn’t confront them with the consequences of their actions because they were in a speeding car.

    All the above are my personal experience of catcalling and street harassments which i cited in my post. Now, you call my anger at these despicable behaviours “manufactured outrage” and hence you want me to stop talking or writing about my anger at being objectified and dehumanised by sexist ignoramuses.

    And of course you had to top it up by stupidly making it a POC issue. Really, not a very bright conclusion from your part. Why would i really want to engage in a discussion with someone who would leave such childish, immature remark? Not worth my time, not worth the space, but good comedy and good for research purposes too. No worries, you get to go into the moderation mode too. 🙂

  20. says

    No, you putting words into my mouth doesn’t mean I said them.
    1. No; I’m amused. That’s shit’s hilarious.
    2. No, those guys are obnoxious. That’s a legitimate complaint.
    3. That doesn’t make me angry, but I do get friends walking down the street. Keep warring against friendly people.
    4. I have a trans-man friend just like that. He gets away with it because he’s fine-looking for either gender.
    5. A guy sent his friend to ask me for my number. I politely made conversation for the next five minutes with him taking some amount of schaudenfreudish joy in saying that I wasn’t available. People should always belittle other people’s family members in front of children, though; you won’t get any complaint about that.
    6. No, those guys are obnoxious and would do poorly in a dark alley against a woman like me. I’m cruel in a street fight.
    Your manufactured outrage is that you’re upset that somebody has the gall to ask you to smile, never mind that it’s scientifically proven that smiling improves your mood. You’re basically upset that someone is trying to make you happy.

  21. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    Oh @Alex moore , aka “POC with the POC friends”, i did not put words into your mouth, you basically stated-

    Your anger at other people having problems or taking to you or trying to relate to you speaks worse of you than it does of them. All the manufactured outrage is bullshit.

    You read my narrated experiences and WROTE THAT. You called my reaction “manufactured outrage.” Your words, not mine.

    1- You might think it is hilarious that a guy randomly stuck his face on my face and demanded for a smile. I can assure you that i did not find it hilarious, if anything i was startled but immediately recognised his male sense of entitlement, which made him just another random street harasser.
    2- Even though I did not need you to validate this as a legitimate complaint, still your recognising the action of these guys as obnoxious did not stop you from calling my reaction to it “manufactured outrage”
    3- I do not have a duty to pick up friends on the streets. I have a right to tell anyone i don’t want to chat with them, and I certainly do not owe them a duty to go into a narrative of why I do not want to spend time responding to personal questions from random guys on the street. It is only a man with a bigoted sense of entitlement to a woman’s time that would take offence at being told “No, I don’t wish to chat with you, stranger”.
    4- It is not about looks or gender, it is about that false sense of entitlement and male privilege.
    5- You might have five minutes of your time to waste just so you could take joy in telling someone you aren’t available, not every one of us have that time to waste on mundane things or take pleasure in such ego massaging childish games. Turning someone down is not a feather in my cap or something I derive orgasmic pleasures from. And when they are strangers that accosted me on the street, they are totally not worth a minute of my precious time.
    6- Yes, those guys are obnoxious but we should call out their obnoxiousness which is fuelled by patriarchy and the normalisation of the dehumanisation of women.

    BTW, your strength, street cred or above average martial arts credential is not what is under discussion. It beats me why you felt the need to tell us what a cruel street fighter you make in a dark alley. One COULD read that to mean it would be the fault of a woman if she got bullied in a dark alley and could not physically defend herself or beat the crap out of her attackers. It might come as a shock to you, but not everyone is interested in being “cruel in a street fight”. regardlessof whether or not they have the ability to be so.

  22. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Alex moore , aka “POC with the POC friends” -- You wrote-

    Your manufactured outrage is that you’re upset that somebody has the gall to ask you to smile, never mind that it’s scientifically proven that smiling improves your mood. You’re basically upset that someone is trying to make you happy

    This would be so ridiculous if it was not so pathetically lacking in logical comprehension of the issue under discussion.
    Whatever makes you think in all the above scenarios, I was unhappy and needed someone, especially a random guy on the street to make me happy?

    Whatever makes you think that strangers who ask people to smile do so because they want to see their zoned in objects happy?

    @Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm already explained this in some of the comments above. When random guys demand that women smile , it is not because they care about the happiness or actual feelings of the person they are asking to put on a smiling performance for them, it is because they want to see a pleasant exterior on women’s faces regardless of how the women feel inside. It is not because they care, it is for the personal entertainment and benefit of the men. To them, the woman is an object who is on the street to provide them entertainment and a pleasant exterior, how dare she spoils that scenery with a frown regardless of what is going on in her life?

    This might come as a shock, but women are not on the street to provide a pleasant scenery for men.

    BTW, you are still on moderation, and tampering with your url won’t take you off moderation mode. just saying. 🙂

  23. Meggamat says

    I am surprised this happens in the UK. Don’t we have a reputation as being impersonal and reserved in public? I often feel I am perhaps a little forward to comment on the weather, but this is just un-British.

  24. Sylvia Potter says

    You do assume a lot about what’s going on in this smile-requester’s mind. A person with a master’s degree telling a debater that they don’t owe them an education is a lot like a rich person yelling at a homeless person to get a job. Mind you, you might be debating with someone who was at a college level in elementary school. I agree with Dear Muslima; there’s genocide in Rwanda and you’re really pissed someone asked you to smile.

  25. Sylvia Potter says

    This is, of course, coming from a very friendly female who gets a lot of strange looks for it, who has only dated guys who’ve worked in construction at some point or another. Each of them has been a genius. Each of them compliments people. One of them complimented a transsexual female (straight black dude who’s average height 6’1) for looking so feminine (to which she promptly responded that she has a boyfriend and he promptly responded that he’s not the right orientation to be a threat); I compliment women as a habit. It’s a response to all the negativity and slut-shaming that’s become culturally acceptable for women to do to each other, like getting angry at women who are unlike you when it comes to date requests from strangers. (Oh, no, she enjoyed being asked out; get her ladies!) Something about construction is (according to one of my genius construction worker ex-boyfriends), complimenting women is how they pass time in their day (other than drilling holes in concrete, as you can imagine, that’s such an intellectually stimulating job). It’s a poor person past-time. I don’t expect you to understand that. Rich people who belittle poor people for what they don’t have are the worst.

  26. Sylvia Potter says

    Oh, and you accused an obvious abuse survivor of being rape culture. Humans (especially feminists) need to stop doing that. If you get raped a whole lot, and then you put a toothbrush in the rapists’ eye, that doesn’t make you a lesser person who’s suddenly rape culture for having snapped. Oh, and people exhibit this behavior (survivor-shaming) to male rape survivors so often it’s sickening, because according to the FBI, it isn’t rape if it happens to a man. How many times have I heard a male rape survivor get told, “You wouldn’t understand, because you’re a man, and men do the raping, not the getting raped?” So often. Furthermore, something you don’t seem to understand, words are symbolic; they mean what the speakers and people in the conversation agree they mean. Linguistically speaking, the language changes all the time. There are plenty of people of a variety of colors who do not agree with you about the words you say they do agree about, and their definition is valid amongst them. It’s also the dictionary definition. The first step to genocide is classification; collectively, social tags could destroy us all.

  27. Sylvia Potter says

    And to point out your cognitive dissonance, in the same post where you advocated violence against people who ask you to smile, you accused a woman capable of it who would return assault with assault (because can throwing is assault) of being rape culture. Stop being such a hypocrite and you’ll lose your trolls.

  28. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Sylvia Potter-You wrote

    I agree with Dear Muslima; there’s genocide in Rwanda and you’re really pissed someone asked you to smile.

    Hmm, you agree with Dear Muslima even when the one who wrote it has subtly apologised for the thoughtlessness of his Dear Muslima. This says a lot about you and your lack of comprehension. All your ramblings are really not worth my time. BTW, I lose my trolls by dumping them in the trash can. Say hi to all the other trolls you are about to be acquainted with in the trash can. Ciao! 🙂

  29. says

    Street harassment was one of the first things to pop my privilege bubble. I couldn’t believe how bad it was since I’d never experienced it. It took a number of people telling me their experiences for me to realise 1) how widespread it was, and 2) how blind to my privilege I was.

  30. Irene Tailor says

    Okay, I’ve read this one too, and the comments. These experiences in many ways parallel my own. Then I read this in the comments. “BTW, your strength, street cred or above average martial arts credential is not what is under discussion. It beats me why you felt the need to tell us what a cruel street fighter you make in a dark alley. One COULD read that to mean it would be the fault of a woman if she got bullied in a dark alley and could not physically defend herself or beat the crap out of her attackers.”

    The only woman I know who has above average skills in martial arts (I’m a nerd and don’t keep much company with jocks), is that way because she was abused for most of her childhood. I saw this as victim-blaming someone for standing up for herself. Not cool at all. I don’t know where you get your feminist education, but the last thing any feminist should be doing is shaming another woman for having the ability to defend herself against assault.

  31. Irene Tailor says

    Furthermore, it reinforces the gender binary stereotype that women should not be powerful. I’m sorry if my words were too vehement, but this really struck a chord with me.

  32. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @screw dog- Being aware, taking note and popping our own privilege is not an easy thing to do, especially since we benefit from our privilege and sometimes, we are not even aware of this. I am happy you took the time to not only read but listen to what people, especially those most affected, are saying about street harassment

  33. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Irene Tailor- One minute you don’t believe catcalls qualifies as street harassment, the next minute you are claiming we have parallel experience but you still do not see these experiences I narrated and also seen in the street harassment video, as street harassment. You really need to make up your mind on this before trolling all over my post with your confused comments.

    BTW, your words aren’t vehement, they just came across as desperately trying to be antagonistic and awfully deliberately trying to twist my words, thereby coming across as not vehement but definitely pathetic.

    You know what, I think you need to cool in the moderation mode, this time not because you are a first time commenter but because you are deliberately trying to be antagonistic without making any point, and I don’t have time for that. And oh, feel free to cry wolf again in the moderation panel, after all you already did so when there was nothing to cry wolf about. 🙂

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