Are you pissed off yet? You should be. I hope you read the title of this post and are now looking for a reason to hit me in the face. If you can read the words ‘just a boob grab’, and your temperature doesn’t climb a few degrees, you might be a bad person. Just saying.
There is no such thing as ‘just a boob grab’ or ‘just’ any kind of unwanted sexual advance. Even catcalls are destructive things.
This post is a little outside the norm for this blog, but, I feel that this needs to be said, and there is no one for whom this subject matter is not appropriate. I write this from the viewpoint of a woman, but I want to clarify here, that these things happen to everyone, no matter what their gender, identity, or preference is, and no matter who it happens to, it is wrong.
I was just having a discussion about sexual abuse, catcalls in particular, with a friend of mine yesterday, we’ll call her Anne.
Anne is a striking woman. She sings in a band and does other performance art projects around the city I live in. She is intelligent, funny, kind and responsible. She has grown children, and is single, and lives alone.
She was telling me about the obscene catcalls she gets almost on a daily basis, even right outside her own door, on her way to her car, and almost any other places she goes throughout the day. She told me that it’s not only disrespectful in her eyes, but it also puts her into a guarded state of mind. She said when these things happen, she instantly goes from happy, or whatever else she is feeling while she navigates her day, to vigilant, defensive, and sometimes, downright scared. If there are any guys reading this that have called out to a woman they do not know on the street, I want to put this out there now. This not NOT a compliment. We don’t take it that way. You just may be frightening us. That right. It’s scary. We don’t know you. This is a form of sexual abuse.
I was watching the news the other day, and there was a segment on anxiety disorder. Apparently, 40 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders in the U.S., making it the most common mental disorder, affecting 18.1% of the population, with General Anxiety Disorder, and Panic disorders being twice as likely to affect women, then men.
When Anne was telling me that the constant catcalls she has flung at her elicit a fear response from her, these statistics instantly popped up in my head.
Is it possible that women are being afflicted with crippling panic, and anxiety because over time, as they navigate their lives enduring catcalling, and other varieties of mild sexual assault, in some cases multiple times a day, their bodies and minds are being forced into some sort of hypervigilance?
Doesn’t seem like a stretch to me at all.
Men, I urge you to think next time before you call out to that stranger across the street, because you may think you are paying her a compliment, but you are not. You may in actuality be causing her PTSD later on down the line, or contributing to the anxiety she is already suffering from.