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Open Letter to the Men of the World (or at least New York)
cap, captain miss america

Dear guys,

I know most of the people reading this aren’t this kind of guy, because I make an effort only to associate with the kind of guy who isn’t an asshole. But I figure it’s still useful for y’all to know what a fairly large portion of your gender likes to put women through.

To the rest of you, I do not leave my house for the sole purpose of giving you something to ogle. I do not get dressed in the morning to please strange men I don’t know. Hell, I don’t even get dressed to please any men I do know. I get dressed for me.

To the rest of you, my entry into your workplace or the place in which you shop does not signal my interest in being ogled, or better yet, my interest in putting up with lewd comments from you. My proximity to you does not mean I am inviting your commentary on my hair, my manner of dress, or my looks.

To the rest of you, as much as you might fantasize about being a sports announcer, you can get through the five minutes in which an attractive woman is in our presence without offering narration.

To the rest of you, fooling a woman into conversing with you so that you can segue into verbally objectifying her by asking her for the time, or directions, or any other inane question isn’t clever or cute. It’s harrassing and insulting.

To the rest of you, when I tell you that your presence following me on the street or in the grocery store is unwelcome, you are not the victim.

To the rest of you, don’t even try to claim you meant it as a compliment, because you damn well know it isn’t.

To the rest of you, for once in my life, I would like to manage to get through a week without having at least one of you think that you are entitled to force your way into my life, to intrude on my personal business, to make me feel uncomfortable in a place that has been, up until that point, part of my daily routine. For once in my life, I would like to not have future visits to a place colored by a negative interaction. For once in my life, I would like not to worry that you might be a regular customer, too, that I might have to interact with you in the future, that even if you don’t open your mouth this time, you might try to follow me around the store, or just give me pointed looks when I have to get something from the shelf next to where you are standing, not shopping, staring at the women walking by.

To the rest of you, the next time you speak to me this way in your place of work, please immediately inform your manager that you have lost them a customer. And you’ve probably lost them other customers, who aren’t me, and who don’t tell you to your face that you’re being a sexist ass.

To those of you who are not part of that group, thank you for taking action when I tell you there’s a problem in your store. Thank you for making me feel like if I do go back there and something happens again, someone will do something about it. Keep doing that. Better yet, take action when you see it happening, or hear it happening, don’t wait until I come to you to complain. Even if it’s not your workplace, say something. Get a manager. Make sure those men who are hurting your reputation as men don’t see silence as approval.

To all of you, when one man does this, it hurts all of you, because we women have to be more suspicious, more protective, and less friendly with strangers we meet. Some awesome woman might ignore your earnest request for directions, or your earnest compliment, because she’s fed up with those of you to whom this letter is directed. We have to be less kind, less patient, less open, just to get through the day without feeling as if our personal space is being invaded. I don’t want to live that way, and I’m sure you don’t, either.



Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

(Deleted comment)
Well, it wasn't just for me. I feel like the best thing I can do when things like this happen is to verbalize my feelings about it, because reading something like this might help someone else.

And ew, in doctor's offices! What the hell!

(Deleted comment)
Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.

I really don't understand why so many guys think hassling strange women is entertaining, but I hate that one jerk can at least temporarily, totally ruin my goodwill towards the world.

At least he wasn't trying to touch my hair this time?

Ugh! No. Let me rephrase. Major ugh! Hugs

Thank you! It's ok, I can take care of myself...the trouble is, I shouldn't HAVE to think about taking care of myself.



To the men who are not awesome,

No, it's really not a compliment if you walk up to a woman on the street and ask her to go have sex with you right now. It's not flattering when you pester a girl at a club with blatant sexual comments. It's especially not flattering if she tries to let you down gently and say "I have a boyfriend" and you reply with "So? He's not here right now, is he?" It is, in fact, sleazy and gross and an invitation to receive an ass-kicking or for her to call security on you.

To the men who are awesome,

Keep being nice and well mannered and decent human beings. And please tell the not-awesome men to STFU and grow up when they pull stuff like this in your presence.


And it's almost just as insulting when the "I have a boyfriend" line works when you can tell it's because they think of you as another man's property!

I am glad the others there at least did something. I've seen so many examples of the bystander thing when stuff like this happens, wehre people just get quiet and awkward and refuse to step in and help.

I'm sorry! If I was there to hit him in the face, I would.

Actually, the bystanders in this particular case did absolutely zilch. But when I went to the register and told one of the guys minding the register, he got the manager and the manager went back to speak to the dude. I didn't stay to see what happened, because I didn't want to be pulled into more uncomfortable shit. But I'm a regular there and they all know me.

Have you seen the publicity Miss D.C. is getting for body-checking a guy who was harassing her on the street? She's using the publicity to speak up against it.

There's also a free online video game in which you play a woman who has to shoot the men who harass her on the street -- I can't remember which blog I saw the post on, but they were quoting a dude who reviewed it and for whom it really affected his perception of cat-calling and street harassment.

I just looked her up! That is pretty darn awesome! Kickass.

And that's really interesting. I don't know if it would help for guys who actively engage in it, but for the guys who don't do it but don't get why it upsets women when it happens, it might be a really good thing.

(Deleted comment)
Outstanding post! May I link to this? I think it should be more widely seen.

As much as the clever catcalling makes me smirk, nothing's better than shutting down some asshole who thinks he has a chance because I have a pussy and a pulse. :) Never gonna happen, sucka.

I don't think I've ever heard a clever catcall. I didn't think the two went together.

Very nice. I am lucky enough to rarely encounter this sort of behavior.

Edited at 2010-06-15 11:30 pm (UTC)

I think living in a pedestrian community makes it that much more frequent, because it happens walking down the street, and on the transit a lot. And because New York is so big, people don't know people, so there's the safety of anonymity for the douchebags who engage in it.

I saw your comment pre-edit and if I remember correctly from your intro post, I think I'm older than you. :-P

think that you are entitled to force your way into my life, to intrude on my personal business, to make me feel uncomfortable in a place that has been, up until that point, part of my daily routine.

There it is right there, isn't it? That gradual erosion of safety and comfort.

So much word. I don't run into this sort of behavior a lot since I live in a city where we mostly drive everywhere, and because I tend to be kind of oblivious. I'll only realize after the fact that someone leered at me or said something inappropriate. When it does happen, though, it's usually when I am at work. Since I work in retail, men think they can get away with being creepy and/or patronizing.

I am really glad that when you told the other employees about that guy harassing you, they took it seriously and got the manager involved. I would be so mad and embarrassed on behalf of the store if I heard that one of my coworkers had acted like that.

Well, I tend to think that most of my gender are total douchebags as it is. And the ones that do some of what you're talking about here bear that out. But no all of us do... though I agree that the idiots make all of us look bad.

Sorry you're dealing with this kind of crap.