An Open Letter to The Woman Who Catcalled Me:
My name is Emma. I’m 26. I work for a Non-Profit and I’m going through a huge life change right now. Who are you? What’s your name?
The reason I’m writing to you is because as I biked away from my place of work a few days ago, a group of men stuck their heads out of their third floor window and started to shout about how lucky my bike was to be between my thighs.
And then you joined them.
And you used some language they did not.
And they cheered and high-fived you.
When I stopped my bike and shouted back I ended my usual rant with, “And as for you! Yes you! Hey! Lady! You don’t have to live this way!”
What I meant was this:
You don’t have to buy into the Patriarchal System that allows those men to objectify me. None of them really want to be intimately acquainted with the space between my thighs. That’s not what catcalling is for. They want to frighten me. They want to assert their power over me. They want me to know that this is their world–that I’m biking on their street–and I’m simply not going to allow them to get away with that. They don’t own this world and they won’t so long as I and my fellow Feminists can fight against them.
But you. I see you. I really do. I’m looking right at you. I was like you once. I too thought that I had to play the game in order to survive. But then I got schooled.
If you’re catcalling me because you also want to assert power over someone in a world where your power is limited, then let me be the first person to say that there are other ways of gaining power. Let me be the first person to say that you are worth it–that you are worthwhile–that hurting other people doesn’t give you more control. It takes control away from you. If you want control, if you want power, you can get it by doing good work. You can be kind. You can fight against the system that asserts that you don’t have inherent power at the moment of your birth.
(But in my opinion: Fuck that. You absolutely have inherent power.)
If you’re catcalling me because you honestly want to engage in a relationship with me you can come down here and talk to me like I’m a person. Which I am.
If you’re catcalling me because it is the only way that you can gain the respect of that group of men then HEAR ME WHEN I SAY THEY ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU. There are better men out there. There are really. Really good men out there. Feminist men. Men who are allies. Anything less is a waste of your time.
I’m gonna say that again.
Those men aren’t good enough for you.
I see you. I used to be like you. I used to buy into the system.
But then I got my ass kicked.
I hope you don’t have to get your ass kicked as thoroughly as I did to realize what you’re doing.
-And her bike.
Although honestly–do we have to bring my bike into this? She never did anything to anyone. She’s just a sweet little blue cruiser. Leave her alone. I’ll fight you.