What gives you the right to comment on my body?

I was walking home from class when a car in a nearby parking lot started moving towards the road. Since the car would have hit me if one of us didn’t stop, I glanced over at the car to make sure it had seen me. Unfortunately, the eye contact was apparently enough to convince the two men inside I was interested. The passenger-side guy whistled and made catcalls, while the driver grinned and inched the car up closer to me. I walked by as if I hadn’t seen them.

A moment later, the car pulled out of the driveway and followed me down the road, slowing to match my walking speed. After some time, the passenger side guy leaned out of the open window and said “Hey, you’re beautiful!” At this point I was angry (What gives you the right to comment on my body? What makes you think I would find you or your behavior attractive, you grimy construction worker?) but also a little scared. I was on foot and they were in a car, and showed no signs of driving off. I gave the harasser the most contemptuous glance I could muster and just said “Fuck off!” The two men both started laughing uproariously and sped off.

“You’re beautiful” may sound less offensive to a street harasser than “Blow me!” or “Nice ass!” But to the person being whistled and leered at (not to mention followed..!), the words are irrelevant to the tone of the interaction–which was condescending, invasive, disgusting and rude.

Submitted by Anoymous on 6/30/2010

Location: Route 1 and Berwyn Road

Time of Harassment: Day Time (9:30A-3:30P)

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2 Responses

  1. Nafas

    I’m sincerely sorry this happened to you. I’ve been trying to deal with unsolicited, “Hey sexy!” and other comments on my appearance by shouting back in an upbeat voice whatever it is I see so that maybe harassers will get what they’re doing, e.g.: “Hey, chunky old guy!” or “Hey dirty kid in yellow shirt!” Only gotten confusion so far, but it’s the best way I can think of to drive the point home.

  2. Golden Silence

    Nafas, I’ve done the same thing to these men, matching their tone in the process. It’s usually worked for me.

    Years ago I was exiting Metro at Pentagon City, and this man old enough to be my father said “Hey, sexy!” to me. It was embarrassing. I immediately countered back with something in the lines of “Hey, ugly old man!” Everyone started looking at him. I think he learned his lesson.