Letter to the ‘well meaning’ male friend

Dear “well meaning” male friend,

Thank you for trying to understand the situation of being a woman in NYC. You’re a gem. I deeply appreciate your disavowal of men who cat call women. But your outrage over this ‘infrequent’ occurrence is a bit uninformed. We are cat called more than 3 to 4 times a month. We are cat called daily. Multiple times a day.

In any location: while carrying laundry; while walking to the subway; carrying groceries; talking on the phone; having an emotional breakdown. In any style of clothing, from sweatpants, to summer dresses, to jeans, to full body armor. It is unrelenting. This isn’t an occasional problem that sometimes makes us roll our eyes.

This occurs often enough that we brace ourselves before leaving our apartments. We mentally prepare ourselves for battle. We wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact. We drown out the whistles with headphones. It is not with a carefree mind that we leave our apartments. It is fully armed and guarded. We are at war. We are up against the sexual appetite of men who don’t seem to recognize us as more than tits and ass.

If it’s not whistles, it’s a slow turn around to stare at our asses. It’s telling us to “Smile pretty girl.” It’s coming up to us, and trying to pick us up. It’s grabbing our bodies in public. It’s yelling after us. It’s threatening us.

It’s more than an ‘occasional’ problem. It is everyday. It is constant. So you have every right to be outraged. But know that we are not grossly offended for a few whistles here and there. Our outrage rises from the difference in treatment because we have a ‘V’ where you have ‘P.’

Now you know. Now your outrage is grounded in reality. And deeply appreciated.

Yours,
A woman in armor

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