To The Man Who Catcalled Me This Morning

05/04/2017 10:59 | Updated 05 April 2017
Lynette Wong / EyeEm via Getty Images

You probably thought nothing of it. You probably thought it was harmless.

The thing is, it wasn't. I left my home this morning in a good mood. The sun was shining, I was on time for work and I was about to start listening to my favourite new Spotify playlist. However you changed that - within seconds of me leaving my home.

I thought you might have taken the hint when I deliberately ignored you beeping your horn, but no, you beeped again. And when I eventually looked up, you glared at me with a smirk on your face that is still etched on my brain.

I don't know what your intentions were - maybe you wanted to show your interest in a random woman walking to work, maybe you liked my trainers or maybe you wanted to discuss the news of the day - but what you did scared me. So much so, that I never did listen to that playlist and instead walked as fast as I could to the tube hoping you wouldn't drive past me again.

You would probably say that I am being dramatic and reading too much into this but your beep and stare is not the first. I have had the misfortune of being catcalled by other men like you, being grabbed in the street by men like you and verbally abused by men like you. What you might have deemed as harmless is just a reminder of what me, my friends, and women in general experience on a daily basis.

In the grand scheme of things your actions were minor, but it just plays into the wider narrative. Every catcall, unwanted comment or gesture is a reminder that there are some men out there - and this is absolutely not the majority - who feel they can intimidate, exert power and abuse women in this way.

I'm guessing if you hadn't safely been locked in your van and instead passed me in the street you probably wouldn't have said a thing. But your catcall was just another reminder that as a woman I could be just one step away from a stranger accosting me in the street, one step away from a sexual assault and, god forbid, a step away from rape and my life being in danger.

Every single one of my female friends, and I imagine most women, has experienced something like I did this morning - and yeah while we usually brush it off, it has lasting effects.

As a man you're lucky enough to never have to feel what women do when we hear that horn beep, that man yell "cheer up, love" or feel that unwanted hand grab you. You will never feel the anxiety we do when walking home from a night out - the sweaty palms clutched around our keys, the increased heart rate, the sinking feeling we have when we hear footsteps behind us or the relief when we finally shut our front door behind us.

The nicer side of me wouldn't wish that anxiety or fear on anyone, but my other side - the side you brought out of me this morning - hopes that one day you do. Then maybe you'll realise how I felt this morning, and how other women you glare at feel, and how harmful your harmless beep really was.

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