Cross-posted at Jezebel.
Yesterday I was walking to a convenience store when a guy shouted at me that I looked really pretty. I ignored him. He yelled again and walked up to me. I gave him that tight, uncomfortable half-smile-with-no-eye-contact women sometimes use to try to acknowledge random male attention just enough so maybe the guy will feel like he’s gotten the reaction he is entitled to, in the hopes that he’ll then lose interest and go away.
He did go away, but only to get in a car with this friends and then drive slowly next to me, yelling “compliments” about how pretty I looked and trying to get me to look at them. And when I continued to ignore them, they finally yelled “bitch!” and drove off, a situation I’m sure many of our readers have experienced — the reaction you get when you dare to not be just pleased as punch that some men are following you on the street, helpfully going out of their way to openly approve of your performance of femininity, thus letting you know that you are a worthwhile human being.
And today I opened an email from Susan C. with a link to this cartoon over at Ampersand that nicely sums up this oft-played-out scenario. Thanks, Susan!
Reader Jared adds,
This also nicely illustrates male privilege in the last panel, and how the worst problems with street harassment often don’t come from the men on the street harassing you – but rather from the prevailing attitudes among society/other men that it’s something you should welcome.
Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.