I was wearing a loose black dress from Urban. I paired it with black combat boots and gold bangles. I had been a slob all day, so I figured I’d throw something cute on to run some errands before work.
I stepped on the elevator, a man stood next to me and stared at my naked legs and then looked at me and winked. 5, 4, 3, 2, L. I stepped out and could still feel his eyes staring behind me.
I took the normal route to CVS, crossing 16th through Meridian Hill followed by a brief walk down 14th St. Two men sat on the bench, one whistled, the other one said, “Hey, sexy.” 3 honks from 3 different cars. A “let me get some of that,” remark coming from a group of pre-pubescent teenagers hanging out in front of CVS.
There are several friendly hellos from co-workers when I enter the restaurant as I head upstairs to change into my work uniform. A tight black tank and dark wash jeans. I could wear a push-up bra, but the last time I did a bar guest said to me, “I’ll give you an extra $20 if you show me your tits.” A bralette that flattens my chest it is.
“I want a top shelf Long Island please, make it extra strong,” he instructed. I noticed his eyes dart down to my chest. “Ok,” I assured him (knowing I would give him the standard pour count of this abomination of a cocktail). I delivered it to his table and as I placed it in front of him he asked for my name.
“Ah, Beth. That’s a lovely name.” He grabs my hand to kiss the top of it as I quickly pull it back.
“Aw, c’mon. I know you feelin’ me.”
“Enjoy your drink!” I responded as I headed back to the bar.
I did my best to avoid him despite the constant stares.
“Yo, B!” He shouted.
“Can I help you?” I asked rather aggressively, doing my best to hide any sort of frustration.
“This drink is amazing. I guess you’re more than just a pretty face. When I saw you would be the one making the drink I thought to myself ‘There’s no way this b*tch can make a good drink. No f*ckin way this b*tch knows how to make cocktails.’ But I was wrong! This is so great.”
Let me review a few issues with this statement:
- A monkey could make a Long Island. Actually, I don’t want to discount monkey’s intelligence. A turkey could make a Long Island (straight from my Google search of “world’s least intelligent animals”).
- A Long Island is not a cocktail. It’s straight booze in a tall glass.
- “More than just a pretty face.” I cannot.
- “This b*tch.” Hey, wassup hello? I’m Beth.
I hand him his check without asking if he’d like another one, because like, why would I?
“Damn girl.” He says as I walk away. I legitimately bite my tongue, because if I had only metaphorically bit it, it wouldn’t have stopped me from losing my shit.
He leaves only after several minutes of staring at me…finally.
And at this point I’m unsure of how to feel.
Catcalling and harassment happens on the reg. I leave my apartment every morning accepting the fact that at some point today, some male will make me feel uncomfortable in some way, shape, or form. Some male will look at me with an intention to eye f*ck me, or maybe they’ll be more blunt and ask to impregnate me (it’s happened).
Every honk of the horn, every whistle, every comment under their breath, I can only roll my eyes.
I have accepted this as my reality, even though I really shouldn’t.
I see women everywhere defending Donald Trump, for reasons I cannot fathom. A leader doesn’t engage in “locker room” talk, he stops it. A leader doesn’t force an apology from a marginalized female for reporting inappropriate behavior, he creates a way to fix the problem that women have been dealing with for centuries:
Constantly feeling like they have to be on alert. Constantly feeling like they need to bite their tongue, asking themselves, “did he touch me inappropriately?” or worse, “was I raped?”
Constantly feeling like they have to accept marginalization and harrassment as a norm.
Now, before the (white) alpha males make the argument that “men deal with harrassment too.” Awesome. “All Lives Matter” but “all lives” aren’t forced to fight for an acknowledgment of equality when sometimes, it’s not already given to them by default.
I hate looking behind me in fear walking to the gym in the morning when it’s still dark. I hate the stares, the comments, the thought process of some people who think it’s ok to touch my ass as I run drinks to a table.
I wish it was as easy as saying “stop being a f*cking creep,” but that only seems to escalate the problem. So, instead, I bite my tongue. Sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally. I turn the volume up on my iPhone to pretend I didn’t hear your gross remarks. I walk faster if I feel like you’re following me, escaping into the nearest Starbucks.
I do nothing. Because, what can I do?
Do I sound pathetic? Maybe. But I think this is something we as women deal with every day. Fighting the urge to stick up for yourself, only to think of the consequences that could follow. We pick our battles, even though it’s one we’ve been fighting for our entire lives.
“Cat calling” is not “just a compliment. “Locker room talk” is not “just a thing boys do.”
I like my Urban dress. I like the way it fits, the way that it goes perfectly with nearly every pair of shoes I own. I don’t wear it for you.
I wear it for me.