The weather is warmer. The sun rises earlier and sets later. We shed our coats and sport our summer best… and as someone on their Instagram story put it best, we have now entered “Creepy Man Season”. I have always felt that street harassment was an important topic to discuss. What propelled me to finally write about my experiences was after hearing Erin Brown and Neghar Fonooni of Nasty Women Radio (NWR) create a conversation about street harassment. Click here to have a listen for yourself. These women are amazing and put some of my thoughts into even better words than I could myself.
My mom, for months now, has been telling me how important self-defence is and that I should take a course. I don’t disagree and my response is usually, “Mom, I’m always wearing running shoes, I can outrun anyone who threatens me!” However, after listening to NWR this past week I am thinking twice about my reactions to the uncomfortable and highly inappropriate situations I have had living in downtown Toronto. I usually attribute what seems to be my high number of personal experiences with street harassment to growing up in a small town. I loved every minute of it, but I have a tendency to brush off these situations now and assume I am more sensitive since I never grew up in the city.
My career allows me to wear fitness clothes ALL the time, which I love! However, that means my outfit of choice is usually a pair of flashy leggings and a tank, showing some skin and my physique. When it is hot, you might see me wearing shorts, or sporting my fav tennis skirts for Zumba. I feel comfortable in my own skin and I absolutely love everything bright and colourful, so I understand that sometimes people will look because of the pattern on my tights. But, that is where this conversation stops and the conversation of street harassment begins.
Before I go further, I am not diminishing other people’s experiences, but I am speaking from my perspective, as a 23 year old heterosexual female. I find it strange the way men act at this time of year, reacting to the sight of skin as if they have never seen it before. I find it extremely disgusting when I feel stared at for a long period of time, hollered at, whistled at, and in one case grabbed. Apparently some of you think it is okay to do any or all of the above because…why?! It doesn’t make me feel comfortable at ALL, my heart races slightly, I try to walk on the other side of the street, wear headphones and pretend I didn’t hear, and look around to see if anyone else notices or cares. The reality is, I hear it all. See it all. And remember it all.
I used to try to find a silver lining and think that I should keep quiet and accept that although the delivery was poor, someone was trying to give me a compliment. Not anymore. We shouldn’t accept it is “Creepy Man Season”. I shouldn’t have to walk with headphones in and my head down for fear of being hollered at. To the men reading this, this is not the way to give a compliment. As Neghar and Erin put it, it is a compliment if you could say the same thing in front of the recipient’s partner, or if you would say the same thing to a teacher.
In one blog post I don’t expect to have an earth shattering moment, but rather start a conversation and remind fellow women and anyone else who has experienced this that we should not become desensitized and accept this as part of our daily routine. Unfortunately as it is a reality for many people, we must continue to be aware of our surroundings and look out for one another. Talk to your friends, whether male or female about the inappropriateness of this. Support others who you see being victimized.
No one has control over you – not what you wear, where you walk or what you do. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing that caused someone else to not control themselves and act in a certain way. You should feel safe regardless of what your outfit of the day is. Let’s create conversations with males and females alike to put an end to “Creepy Man Season” and lead to days where we can feel safe walking outside.
Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.
Check out Rachel's page on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Feel free to comment below with topics you would be interested in reading about in the future.