Tonight is artwalk in my town and the sidewalks are full of people making their way downtown for free wine and cheese and bad Western art. I was enjoying the small town atmosphere and pleasant weather when the first guy leaned out his car window to comment on my ass. I was wondering what to make for dinner when a second guy riding his bicycle yelled ‘hey baby’ and made a gesture that left far too little to the imagination.
This is not an unusual experience for me. Street harassment is pervasive in our towns and cities.
Tonight, however, was worse than usual. The weather is warm, school is out, and everyone is heading downtown. No fewer than 7 men felt it necessary to comment on my attire and body, and/or gesture rudely and/or leer at me on the mile and half walk between my office and my house. My town is small and it is normal to smile at strangers, to say hello to people who look only a little familiar, to stop and chat with the people you know. But by the time I was a quarter mile from home, I was avoiding looking at anyone, feeling exposed and vulnerable and angry enough to shout at strangers.
I am not offended if men notice me, but there are better ways to let me know about it. Smile at me. Tell me my dress is pretty. Offer to carry my groceries. Say hello.
Trust me, shouting ‘hey baby, suck my dick’ from a car window is not an effective method for soliciting fellatio.