On Monday I was walking home from work when a random man looked me straight in the eye and aggressively remarked: "Sexy bitch. I'd eat you."
The guy was huge and intimidating and, to be quite frank, he scared the living daylights out of me.
All 5ft of me was quivering as I struggled to cross the road and get away from him. There was something in the way he stared at me which terrified me and I didn't want to stick around to find out what kind of "meal" he had planned.
So I kept my mouth shut and scurried on. Part of me wanted so desperately to shout at him and give him what for, but I couldn't bring myself to do it for one reason: I was scared that if I did I wouldn't have the last say. I was scared in case things escalated.
It just so happens that Monday was the first time I'd walked home to my new flat by myself. Usually my other half walks by my side, but for whatever reason on Monday he didn't. And that just so happened to be the day when a menacing man decided to aggressively catcall me.
I'm embarrassed to say this but when I got home I got upset about it and yes, there might have even been a few tears. I know I shouldn't be embarrassed to admit that I cried, but I am. Because we're often told to just deal with stuff like this and move on - that's how ingrained these kind of events are in society.
I got particularly worked up because, as a soon-to-be-25-year-old, I don't want to have to feel like my boyfriend needs to hold my hand wherever I go because somebody might say or do something to me. Why the hell should it have to be this way? Why should I feel that if he's not there, I have to get the bus home and miss out on a nice walk in the sunshine - all because some men can't contain themselves?
When it comes to catcalling, women are in a double bind. We don't want to ignore it, but equally we don't want to defend ourselves because of what might happen if we do. If it's not verbal abuse, then it might just be physical. It's simply not safe to stand up for yourself.
The most ironic thing is that before I left work on Monday, I wrote a piece about women who were sharing their experiences of sexual harassment, catcalling and sexism on Twitter, to show just how big an issue it is. I then walked home and experienced the exact same thing that so many women had opened up about throughout that day.
I've experienced catcalling on countless occasions throughout my life - from men shouting out of vans (even when I was a school girl) to guys wolf whistling in the street to weirdos sleazily calling me "sexy" or demanding me to give them a smile. After years of it, they all kind of blur into one.
But this event was by far the worst. Perhaps because it seemed so much like a threat.
The guy who hurled abuse at me, we'll call him Mr C (I'll leave it up to you to decide what the C stands for), might have a daughter. And if he doesn't then he definitely has a mother, sister, niece or some other female relative who he probably cares very much about. So how would he feel if a complete stranger called his female family members "sexy bitches" and then, like some kind of monster, threatened to "eat" them while they walked home alone? Would he like it? No he probably wouldn't. But sadly he doesn't think like that - and that's just part of the problem.
If there's one thing I want this blog to do, it's to make some men understand that their catcalling and treatment of women in public can be both terrifying and intimidating. And if it's not scary, then it's derogatory, rude and downright annoying.
I want to ask catcalling offenders to put themselves in a woman's shoes and think about how she feels. Is she really going to appreciate the rubbish you're saying to her as she walks past or the bizarre noises you're making at her out of your car window? Ten times out of ten, she won't - take it from one who knows.
If one man changes the way he acts towards women after reading this post then I'll feel happy in the knowledge that something, however small, has changed. I'll feel happy because there's one more man choosing equality and respect over sexism. And I'll feel happy that there's one less woman out there feeling upset because a man menacingly catcalled her while she walked home alone.Suggest a correction