Living in quarantine can get pretty boring. What am I supposed to do to fill my time, be productive? I’ve been going on a lot of walks recently instead of doing that. The downside is, to get anywhere worth walking from where I’m staying in Grand Campus I have to walk down that road. I think if you’re a woman on campus you know which one I’m talking about. It’s been happening since I started at EKU. Every time that I made the mistake of walking along Lancaster Avenue, some guy passing by in a car decided that it was a compliment to me to yell sexually explicit things from his window.
I feel like it’s only gotten worse since quarantine started. What used to be one or two jerks has turned into several each time I dare to leave my room. I feel targeted. The fact that I exist here as a woman seems to be an invitation for them. The fact that I have dyed hair must mean I’m promiscuous. God forbid I leave the house in shorts. I put in my headphones to drown out the comments but I can still hear them honking the horn at me as they pass.
It’s escalated to a point that the last time I left the apartment I had water thrown in my face from the window of a truck as it drove by. As I stood there shocked and crying, I can’t help but wonder why this has been happening now? It’s well known that college aged women are three times more likely to experience some form of sexual violence than other age groups (according to rainn.org, or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), but catcalling is a lesser known form of harassment that regularly goes unreported. Really, it’s largely been ignored by society as a whole. There’s no law against making lewd or inappropriate comments at a person in a public setting.
The misconception, it seems, is that many people who harass women on the street seem to think of it as giving a compliment. News flash: unwanted sexual advances are never a compliment. These comments are never met with any kind of positive feedback. However, we live in a culture where people that make those kinds of comments in public rarely are met with any kind of criticism. When women get catcalled, it makes them feel degraded, disgusted and objectified. The feeling I get after hearing the things said to me out of moving cars, is horrible. I feel afraid to go outside again.
The impact of these kinds of comments can be greater than you think. According to stopstreetharassment.org, 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. The problem is widespread and completely avoidable. It’s everyone’s job to make sure the community we live in makes all of its members feel safe and respected. Street harassment isn’t a joke, and it’s definitely not a compliment. No matter what a woman looks like or what she’s wearing, it’s never an invitation to make obscene comments about her body.