#CommutingWhileFemale – Part I
Disclaimer: Before you start to assume that this is some anti-male radical feminist piece – it’s not. This is a piece about common human decency.
I am the only girl of two brothers – one older, and one younger. I started to play soccer when I was 5 years old, and found myself gravitating to more “masculine fashion” in grammar school – AKA, I was a tomboy. I liked to wear my brothers clothes and hang out with his older friends. I would play Zelda, Mario Cart, Super Smash Brothers – any Nintendo64 game you could think of – with a bunch of dudes after school. They were always nice to me, and never did they say I couldn’t ‘play’ with them after dinner with my brother. I remember my winter jacket in 4th grade was a Tommy Hilfiger yellow and navy bubble jacket from the little boy’s section. I wore a lot of baggy T-shirts to school paired with my Adidas shorts I wore to soccer practice.
I was really good at soccer – so good that when I was 17, I was recruited to play for a Division 1 university. When I was younger, I would always try and play soccer with the boys at recess. When you are an athlete, you have this organic competitive nature that is constantly seeking a challenge. I started playing soccer with the boys at recess – lightly monitored by school aids – and I would end up being pushed and shoved with my knees bleeding and dirt stains on my shorts. Yet I would get back up, rub down my muddy knees, and get back to playing. I started to get mad since some of the boys would complain that since I was a girl, I wasn’t allowed to play with “them.” I would tell the school aid that this wasn’t fair since I was just as good as them, and they would reply, “Boys will be boys.”
Thankfully, I grew out of my tomboy phase and started to study fashion and beauty magazines in high school. Now – at age 26 – putting on makeup is actually something I look forward to in the morning. Shoes are essentially my favorite thing to buy, and every Christmas I ask for a new designer bag to take to work each year. I just started working at a second job for extra money – Anthropologie – and I’m actually concerned if this job will even be profitable. With a 40% employee discount and a 60% ‘business wear’ discount each month on certain pieces, this has my wallet growing smaller even thinking about what I plan to buy.
The thing is, as much as I love fashion and beauty, it has been more of a frustrating process to go shopping lately. When I go shopping, I have to worry about a shirt being too low cut, a jacket being too cropped that it won’t cover my butt, and shorts that are too tight on my legs. I have to worry about the way my hair is when I leave my apartment, wanting to wear red lipstick, and walking out in heels that are too loud. I have to consider all these things since it will essentially heighten the chances of me being cat-called. I don’t remember the last time I went a day without having a man shout names at me, whistle at me, pucker at me, lick his lips at me, or approach me when I was commuting. And NO – this isn’t me being cocky or flattering myself. This isn’t me bragging that I look nice or I must be ‘just so pretty’ that guys approach me like this. This is me complaining – not bragging. This is me EXHAUSTED from the constant harassment I have to deal with everyday #CommutingWhileFemale.
Sexual Harassment is nothing new, but it is being mentioned now more than ever for appropriate reason(s). Over the past 2-3 weeks, Harvey Weinstein has been one of the most talked about topics in the media – no matter which news channel or blog you get your information from. Multiple celebrities are currently speaking out about their horridly inappropriate experiences working with Weinstein, strongly claiming that he has been sexually harassing women the the past 3 decades. According to ET Online, “Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women over sexual harassment claims from 1990 to 2015.” However, these past encounters are now resurfacing thanks to Ashley Judd, “the first big name star to go on the record,” with her allegation against Weinstein for sexual harassment.
You might be thinking – but why now? Why is Kate Beckinsale just speaking out NOW about her inappropriate experience with Weinstein – after 27 years have passed by? For attention? For press?
I can see why you’re thinking that, however, it’s a no and a no. It’s not for attention and it’s not to gain press. People like Beckinsale are just speaking out about this now because when you are 17 years old and just being introduced into this extremely competitive and fast-moving industry, you’re first thought about meeting a powerful producer is not, “I have to worry about being sexually harassed.” It’s typically, “I will do anything to make it in this industry,” or “I really hope he likes me so I get this part,” or “I have to make sure I make a good impression.” As she stated, “It did not cross my mind that this older, unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him,”
To think that females [as young as 17 years old] need to start considering sexual assault as a likely possibility throughout their schooling and career is absolutely pitiful. You would think that anyone’s first reaction is to tell their parents/friends/management that this is unacceptable – right? I’ve seen men say this online, “well why didn’t they just go tell someone if it was such a problem?” News flash, idiots – most of the time these women will have their careers destroyed or be threatened by the accuser if they even think about opening their mouth. As you see in many movies and television shows including sexual assault and/or domestic abuse, the abuser will threaten the victim in more ways than you can imagine: threatening to kill them, kill other people, beat them, take the kids, ruin their life, ruin their career, etc. So to the men who say, “well why didn’t she just tell someone,” I would like to see how easy it is for you to report a case of assault or abuse when your abuser threatened to kill you or ruin your career if you even uttered a word about the occurrence.
Going back to the everyday sexual assault that I witness commuting to and from work – it would seem the most plausible to just keep quiet and keep walking. Sometimes in life, the best thing to do is ignore the noise and continuing walking in your own path. Yet I have ‘ignored the noise’ for the past 5-6 years. With all of the stories of sexual assault arising in the news today, and the heartbreaking stories I read every morning on my social media, I’ve had enough of ‘keeping quiet.’ I don’t want to put myself in a scenario where I can be threatened or chased, but I am disgusted and exhausted on this behavior occurring. Maybe if I speak up against this behavior the next time it happens, I can prevent it from happening to the next girl walking behind me.
This is Part I of my story. I will be creating Part II – where I include a video of 3 grown men screaming at my roommate and I after I told them to stop cat-calling me.
For HELP and More Information on this serious matter, call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.