just your everyday, commonplace street harassment

A couple of weeks ago,Phil and I were walking downtown Calgary, in search of some late-night eats. The streets were still fairly busy and we passed several bars with long line ups and groups of people huddled outside establishment doors, smoking.

When we were a couple of blocks from our destination, a drunk man passed us and slurred something unintelligible.

Phil and I both stopped and turned around, and Phil asked the man to repeat himself.

The man asked if some bar up the road had a line-up.

Phil and I both shrugged, said we didn’t know and turned back around. As we started to walk away, I heard the man say something behind us.

“Geez, lighten up, Bitch.”

I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking to Phil.

Even though Phil and I gave almost the same response, he chose to direct a nasty comment to my back as we walked away because, as a woman, I am an easy target.

I just shrugged it off, rolled my eyes and kept walking.  He wasn’t overly aggressive and I didn’t feel threatened, mostly thanks to my 6’2″ husband walking beside me, but it was street harassment, plain and simple. It was an unwanted comment directed at me because of my gender and its something that women have to deal with on a daily basis.Regardless of what time of the day we’re out, what we’re wearing or, apparently, who we are with, women are routinely subjected to wisecracks, remarks and judgements from men.

It’s sad that we live in a world where such insults are so commonplace that they barely register; where some men think nothing of tossing a hurtful aside to a woman.Like its no big deal.

Except that it is a big deal.

Every time a comment like that is made, however innocuous it may seem on the surface, it tells a woman that she is lesser. Even “compliments” given, or shouted from a passing car, create the impression that women don’t deserve the same respect that men give to each other. And then society just starts to believe that shit is OK, and it becomes an accepted part of behaviour.

I didn’t say anything that night, and I should have. By not saying anything I, essentially, told him that what he did was acceptable. I can only hope the next woman he says something to won’t be so passive. And I can only hope that the next time something is said to me, I won’t be too rattled by confrontation or too concerned with being considered shrewish or too worried about seeming  not nice to say something.

These men certainly aren’t concerned with being nice, and it’s time I’m not either.