Don’t Be So Aggressive They Said #ShePersisted No. 76

The original quote for this page read, “They said, don’t be so aggressive. It’s a real turn-off. She said, I’m not here to turn you off or on. I’m here to wake you up.”

I debated. A lot. About leaving it as it was. Because… well you know… would people think I was being too aggressive?

And there’s the catch. Someone will always have something to say if we speak our minds. Speak out. Stand up. Get heard. Get seen. Do what we want. Go where we want to go. Ask for what we want. Demand our rights. Fight for justice.

If we act sexually. Act demurely. Dress provocatively Dress plainly. Wear make-up. Wear no make-up. Colour our hair. Don’t colour our hair. Speak loudly. Speak softly. Laugh uproariously. Don’t laugh enough. Sit with our legs crossed. Sit with our legs open. Stand with our chest thrust out to (so they say) ‘show ’em what we’ve got’. Stand with our shoulders hunched to hide what we’ve got. Put on weight. Lose weight.

Want to be a doctor. Want to be a nurse. Sit at the boardroom table. Sit behind the reception desk. Be an outside-the-home working mom. Be a stay-at-home working mom (because no matter how you cut it, women are always working wherever they are). Put our children in day-care. Have a nanny. Use the TV as a nanny while we try to clean up the messes all around us.

Sure, we’ve got options. But those options always come at a price. And that price is based on whether or not we ‘fit’ into a man’s world and how men will see us in their world.

It’s not their world.

It’s our world too.

A friend sent me an article from the BBC this morning about two sisters who have begun a campaign to stop catcalling on the streets of their city.

Let’s be clear. Their campaign is not to stop women from catcalling men. It’s to stop men believing it is their right to harass women as they walk down the street. Sit on buses. Subways. Theatres. Stand in hotel lobbies waiting for friends (which happened to me once. A man decided I must be looking for someone to pay me to have sex with them because I was standing alone in a hotel lobby waiting for a friend for a drink. (I almost added how I was dressed which goes to show how insidious the thought patterns are. How I was dressed doesn’t matter.) He came up, stood beside me, flashed some money at me and asked if I wanted to go have a good time with him. I (politely – my mother always told me to be polite) informed him I was waiting for a friend. He kept persisting. Eventually, I told him to get lost. He informed me I didn’t have to be rude about it. Excuse me? You are trying to solicit me against my wishes to have paid-for-sex with you and I’m being rude?)

When I told my friend, who was a male, what had happened he laughed and said, “Maybe you should just take it as a compliment.” I didn’t throw my drink at him but I did set him straight. It wasn’t about paid-for-sex. It’s about my right to stand where I want, how I want without being accosted by strangers who believe it is their right to say whatever they want about my body and what I do with it.

Anyway, where was I?

Right. The article my friend sent me. (Thank you IM for inspiring me again!)

You can read it here.

The fact that this behaviour continues is not a shock because historically, women have been blamed for men’s bad behaviour. Women have been forced to adapt their ways to avoid unwanted sexual advancements.

What is shocking is the fact that so few men are waking up and telling one another, “We Must Change.”

To those men who have. Kudos to you. But dare I say it or will you think me too aggressive? It’s about time.

To those who still believe Boys will be Boys – Change your belief system. Hold yourselves accountable.

Boys learn from men. When men think it’s okay to catcall a woman/girl walking down the street or to pass by and stick their hand out the window of the car they’re riding in and slap the derriere of a woman walking along the sidewalk (as happened to my eldest sister) then boys will continue to believe it’s not their fault. They’re not accountable because ‘she’ shouldn’t dress that way or walk down that street alone because… That’s just askin’ for ‘it’.

It’s the ‘it’ that needs to change.

The ‘it’ of believing your words don’t have impact. Your acts don’t make a difference.

The ‘it’ of believing when you catcall a stranger’s daughter or sister or niece or cousin or mother, it’s just ‘fun’ or boys being boys. No harm done.

There is harm being done. And if ‘it’ can happen to a stranger’s daughter or sister or cousin or niece or mother, ‘it’ is happening to the women you love in your life too.

So yah.

Call me aggressive. Call me rude.

But do not call me names while I walk down the streets where I have the same rights as you to pass by unmolested by your words telling me what you know I want.

You don’t know what I want but I’m willing to tell you.

I want you to stop.

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