Here’s the deal with street harassment:
It’s not flattering. It’s not a compliment.
Men who don’t understand this have been known to say things like, “I would be so flattered if a random woman on the street said she liked my body!”
But here’s the thing: we all live in a society that teaches that men are dominant over women, and that praises men for showing this dominance.
Imagine growing up and being told and shown over and over again that men have power over women. That men are dangerous to women. And that, if a man does something to you, as a woman, it is very likely that you will be blamed for it. Now try to imagine how terrifying it is to have a man you don’t know anything about yell something at you on the street.
That is why we’re not flattered.
And men who yell at women on the streets have to know at least some of this. I can’t imagine that any human who yells, “Nice ass!” at someone walking down the street seriously expects that person to react positively. The only reason I can think of for this kind of behavior is to show that dominance, to feel powerful over another human being.
That is very messed up.
These types of discussions tend to very quickly turn into, “But freedom of speech, and also, I don’t want to have to feel bad or scared about approaching women for the rest of my life and making them feel uncomfortable, so I’m going to decide none of this applies to me.”
Guess what? It does! So, for next time, I’m going to try to write a comprehensive guide to when it’s okay to approach a woman you don’t know. We’ll see how that goes.