The internet has been taken by storm after Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s public acknowledgement of sexist comments made about her body by other senators. The Daily Show has a great mash up here of female politicians, newspeople and pundits who state they’re “not surprised” by this story (duh) and how we all have stories of who not to get into an elevator with. (It’s almost like getting elected and having more money than sense isn’t a safeguard against ignorance, stupidity and belligerence).
Then, the best part, this piece by correspondent Jessica Williams on why catcalling sucks. It was a great response to a Fox News segment (of course) where the sole male commentator says you can be respectful by applauding as an attractive woman walks by. Jessica tears it apart, pointing out “Going to work is not a performance, we are not looking for applause…it’s not a red carpet, it’s not a fashion week runway, it’s a sidewalk.”
Catcalling is something I’ve grown to understand and dislike more and more (I wrote about my conflicted views earlier this year). It used to be all over my gym in Chicago; I developed a habit of not making eye contact and turning up my iPod as loud as I could stand to drown out all of the comments I could hear, about myself and others. It was a daily event walking into my workplace (or just walking). It still happens on a regular basis.
Today I got to thinking. I used my eyes on the floor, music up technique as a sort of armor, guarding myself from harassment or just against being torn out of my thoughts while I was working. I know women who use angry looks as armor, because when you look mean “they” leave you alone. I know women who walk quickly, with confidence; I know women who make eye contact with every single person they see, preemptive strike style. Every woman I know who has attempted to either call people out on this bullshit or attack a culture (organizational or otherwise) where its accepted has suffered consequences to herself.
Not to the person doing it. To herself.
No matter where it was done, on the street or in the office. The woman suffers.
What do you have to use daily as armor? To suit up, gird your loins to walk outside into a [sometimes] hostile world? Whatever it is, is baloney, but also probably necessary – as long as people think it’s okay to comment on anyone walking by, we have to #armorup and stay sane. And that’s the most frustrating part.