Live Through This

First Encounters With the Male Gaze

Here’s what the big deal is.

Photo from Retrospace

Everyone has a very personal relationship with their body. You live with this thing every day. You grew up with it. It has birthmarks and bruises and acne and battle scars, and holds lots of memories. And perhaps lately you’ve started noticing different things about yourself in the mirror every now and then. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just what happens. But still, it’s weird, because it is change, and it does just happen, and without your permission. Which is why it feels so weird when other people start taking notice, also without your permission.

I’m talking about catcalls, and whistles, and comments from passing cars, and hallway touching, and rumors at school, and on Facebook, and Formspring, and another social-networking site that starts with an F. (I just typed in Farts.com BECAUSE THAT IS HOW MY BRAIN WORKS and got distracted from writing this for a really long time.) Sometimes this attention is positive, sometimes it’s negative, and sometimes it’s positive in a way that sounds like a compliment but is just an FYI to you from the deliverer that they apparently have the right to offer their two cents on the state of your body.

Last year, a big, obnoxious, piercing catcall rang through the halls of my high school. A junior guy made a list in which he ranked 50 junior girls and commented on their bodies and alleged sex lives. I say “catcall” because it was not positive attention, though it disguised itself as such, and under pet names like “the amazing bisexual” was this presumptuous entitlement. As if anyone should give a shit that this guy gave their breasts a 7 out of 10.

He posted the list to Facebook and left folders of printed copies all over the school. (Sound familiar?) A mob of students cheered him on as he stood on the main staircase in our lobby, threw out copies of the list to the student body, and yelled, “Women are the future—unless we stop them now!” He didn’t know how shitty what he did was, but he wasn’t innocent. He intended to make girls feel bad by targeting the insecurities and criticisms that come up for them regularly. Too slutty, too prudish, too fat, too skinny. (Thank god, too, cause I was really worried for a while there that our world would soon be destroyed by all these damn women taking over, stomping around in their girly high heels and ruining everything!)

We have a little over 3,000 students at my school, so rumors never make it very far, but man, people were looking for any gossip about this scandal that they could find. That one guy may have written the list, but it took lots of people to pass it around. When it came up in conversation, even months later, after it was in the newspaper, and Jay Leno made a joke about it on his late-night show, there was always one person saying, “I don’t see the big deal. If I’d been on that list, I’d be able to get over it pretty easily.” And that person was always a guy.

I want these guys to know that they’re able to be so cavalier because they don’t hear unsolicited opinions on their bodies and alleged sex lives all the time. Because the changes they noticed in the mirror a year or two ago were not interpreted as permission by strangers to offer an opinion on their bodies. Because they don’t put up with the kind of language the list used on the regular, and didn’t have to see it manifested as some kind of official document or rulebook, shared and spread and broadcast for students and teachers and parents to see. I want these guys to know that of course it would be easy for you to get over, because your transition into puberty didn’t include the same kinds of ridiculous beauty expectations, and then unsolicited evaluations of how well you measured up.

I want these guys to know that it’s not their fault that they can’t have empathy, but that it’s ignorant to assume that their empathy is the only thing that could validate what we girls were feeling. I want them to know that it’s not their fault that they don’t know the feeling of your safety being threatened when a guy on the subway keeps edging closer to you, but that they look like jerks when they pretend it’s no big deal.

I want the guys who regularly perpetuate the same bullshit that the list was made of to know that, congratulations on your high self-esteem, but you are mistaken if you think anyone is interested in your opinion of their body parts. I want them to know that I don’t have to smile, or react at all, to their backhanded compliments. I want them to know that I don’t exist for them to look at, I don’t get dressed for them, and however I have put myself together on this day—it is not for you.

Most of all, I want to be able to walk around my neighborhood and school without its being assumed that I am looking for feedback on my figure. You know, it really shouldn’t be so complicated.

I don’t know that these wishes of mine will be granted. I’m grateful for organizations like SlutWalk and Hollaback because they respond to these guys in a way that is hard to do in the moment. A few things that work are: “No, I won’t smile, I just found out my entire family was killed in a freak accident,” or “You don’t own this street and no one asked your opinion on my ass.” But I shouldn’t have to have a strategy for preserving my personal space.

The guy who made the list no longer goes to our school. He still comes up in conversation now and then, and there’s always someone who shrugs when it’s brought up, wondering what the big deal was. Recently a guy at our lunch table defended him. Part of me wanted to argue, but I was already tired of the frustration I knew I would soon feel. So were the rest of the girls at our table. We just rolled our eyes and took it in. We’d had plenty of practice. ♦

101 Comments

  • Naomi September 28th, 2011 3:30 PM

    it is the worst thing when you are walking down the street in – god forbid! – a skirt or a dress and you see car drivers turn their whole head without even trying to hide it, like, not even a tentative glance out the corner of their eye, a whole purposeful head turn. i’ve never been able to make eye contact with these men because they never look me in the face. i did once throw a conker after a van when they shouted something at me and my friend. and i’ve done a couple of middle fingers. but apart from that, what can you do?

  • Helena11 September 28th, 2011 3:36 PM

    This is brilliant! (As is the rest of Rookie so thank you!)

    I go to a mixed sixth form but within a boys school therefore there is only 50 girls with approximately 1000 boys making us very much the objects of (unwanted) attention. I often overhear the conversations consisting of rating the girls out of ten and dirty or sexist jokes. Obviously not all the guys do this but it’s a majority that do. It really hurts some and is incredibily disrespectfully saying that a girl is ‘all right from the waist down’ – completely devaluing all her intelligence and personality.

    Cutting it short (I could do the feminist rant for ages!) our purpose and skills equate to far more than looking pretty and making sandwiches so please stop treating us in this way guys.

  • Maddy September 28th, 2011 3:47 PM

    Foursquare? I don’t even know what that is, but I’ve also heard it mentioned.

  • Brodie September 28th, 2011 3:49 PM

    I’ve encountered so much of this since moving to New York and finding a way to respond is always so difficult. Recently my friend saw a businessman on the subway divert his eyes from his Kindle and angle his iPhone towards a girl who had just sat down opposite her. Apparently the crop top she was wearing meant he could freely videotape her as she rode the train home. He asked what I would’ve done in that situation, and I said I’d have stood in front of the girl, blocking the pervert’s view of her. We should be able to “make a scene” about these kinds of things, but yet another part of being a woman is tied in with being “hysterical”.

  • megan September 28th, 2011 3:51 PM

    I’ve had far too much experience of this kind of thing – it’s ridiculous!
    A particularly horrible incident was when I was standing waiting to cross the road and two stopped cars both with male drivers started shouting obscene comments at me, with all the other pedestrians staring at me, giggling or perhaps making their own snide comments. Also, as I have blonde hair, I always get some sort of comment about being a “dumb, easy blonde” which is just stupid. In summer, my friends and I find it hard to walk down a road in shorts or a dress without some sort of lewd comment or a tooting of a horn from a white van man. The boy at my school are just as bad, I’ve overheard many conversations that seem to centre around the good and bad parts of particular girls. The worst is when the girl n question plays up to it and flirts with them, it just encourages these idiots. Uggghh exasperation.

  • NMHfan September 28th, 2011 4:01 PM

    “When did you first feel like a grown woman and not a girl?” We wrote down our answers and shared them, first in pairs, then in larger groups. The group of women was racially and economically diverse, but the answers had a very similar theme. Almost everyone first realized they were becoming a grown woman when some dude did something nasty to them. “I was walking home from ballet and a guy in a car yelled, ‘Lick me!’” “I was babysitting my younger cousins when a guy drove by and yelled, ‘Nice ass.’” There were pretty much zero examples like “I first knew I was a woman when my mother and father took me out to dinner to celebrate my success on the debate team.” It was mostly men yelling shit from cars. Are they a patrol sent out to let girls know they’ve crossed into puberty? If so, it’s working.” – Tina Fey

    • Tavi September 28th, 2011 4:34 PM

      Ugh Tina Fey I love you.

    • lyrarose April 24th, 2012 6:50 PM

      I loved Bossypants. Four for you, Tina Fey, you go Tina Fey.

      **to anyone who hasn’t read her book: it’s feminist, intelligent, and funny – go read it.

  • neelybat September 28th, 2011 4:08 PM

    oh. just yesterday i was riding the bus and some jerk was telling a lady that she needed to work out more, with ideas such as go running everyday. also, she should work on her hair, because she “looks terrible”. he was a complete stranger. after a while, second man, sitting closer to me leaned over and we talked about what an asshole the first guy was. i didn’t really know what to do, so i just stared at the first man. i’ve learned that men really don’t like that. then a third man told the first man to shut up. i wanted to call him out in a more direct way, but when i’ve done it in the past, the woman being picked on will get defensive or just mad at me.

  • Flower September 28th, 2011 4:31 PM

    This post made me cry. Its so honest and resounonds deeply with me, and many others I guess. Thank you Tavi for being so frank.

    • Tavi September 28th, 2011 4:33 PM

      <3
      You're very welcome.

  • dangerpaws September 28th, 2011 4:44 PM

    I used to live in a neighborhood where I got sexually harassed every day. By grown men! GROW UP! The most constructive response I could think of was “I feel bad for your mother!”

    And I know this isn’t the point…and I know you don’t mean to discount the difficulty of being an adolescent boy…I mean, Freaks and Geeks, duh. But I think it’s important to keep that in mind, and not AT ALL to justify this behavior, but to break with the victim mindset, which can foster some pretty Neanderthal-like behavior in women as well. I speak from Neanderthal-type experience (sorry, Neanderthals).

    Gaah, when does it get easier?

  • Claire September 28th, 2011 5:00 PM

    This is a universal, albeit sucky, reality with just about every member of the female species. Never before had I experienced this level of creepery (I always thought it was because I have a 32-inch chest and shorter hair than a lot of guys I know). A few months ago, while I was frantically riding my bike (sans bra) to the convenience store in my neighborhood to get eggs because I had started making cookies without making sure I had everything, some really classy dude yelled “Nice tits” as he drove by. (I felt very Tina Fey at the moment, if you’ve read Bossypants.) Granted, I was wearing nothing but my pajama shirt up top, and it was kind of a bumpy road…but seriously?! This paved the way for some discomfort not too long after that, when my then-boyfriend told me I was beautiful and I laughed like it was some hilarious joke. Gah.

  • jeanette September 28th, 2011 5:02 PM

    Amazing. So honest, so frank, so beautifully written. Was close to tears by the end of it! Sharing it with every female I know! <333

  • fullmetalguitar September 28th, 2011 5:11 PM

    I never really take offense to the casual random teenage boy behavior, which consists of honking or whistling or saying hey girl or whatever. Stuff that’s not obscene, you know? Mostly because I know that boys are driven to do it in groups, and it’s more about them being risky and loud with each other than it being about the girl at all. Or even a lone guy, like one recently who told me I looked good as I walked past isn’t bad either, because he didn’t say it in an overtly sexual way (and I did look really nice!)

    But I really hate when grown men do stuff like shouting, or when it passes into personal or obscene territory, because that’s both rude and really scary. We constantly have to be aware of how easily overpowered we are as women (especially smaller girls like me and perhaps you reading this), and if a guy makes the environment one of sexual interest or sexual gaze, all of our alarm bells go off. If with their guy friends later they want to talk about a hot girl, whatever, but to treat women as objects to constantly be evaluated as whether or not they’re good enough to fuck is pretty awful :/

  • Jennifer C September 28th, 2011 5:15 PM

    I am 27 and I get this kind of abuse constantly, I have never tolerated it, if a man says something obscene to me, I always tell them to piss off.

    It makes me so happy and proud to read that younger girls are standing up for themselves and that they are strong and willful… I read rookiemag every day now and I find it so uplifting and inspiring… Go girls!

  • Laia September 28th, 2011 5:19 PM

    great.post.

  • WitchesRave September 28th, 2011 5:25 PM

    Was she asking for it?
    Was she asking nice?
    Yeah, she was asking for it
    Did she ask you twice?

  • tallulahpond September 28th, 2011 5:26 PM

    Thank you so much for this, Tavi and Rookie-team. I hate it when people say something insulting about your body or your face. It hurts so much and also it dashes your confidence.

  • Margelo September 28th, 2011 5:27 PM

    this is really interesting.
    i have had men stare at me when i’m walking to my car from the beach in my bakini, and they slow down their car really slow.
    and i just look at them all, hey, what do you think your looking at? other then that, really you can’t do much more…

  • georgia September 28th, 2011 5:29 PM

    Go girls! Tavi, you are so right. It’s the inside that counts.

    ps. i just looked up farts.com – squeaky shoes?!

  • littlemustachecomb September 28th, 2011 5:29 PM

    So many young women need to read this article.

  • back2thepast September 28th, 2011 5:31 PM

    I had an English teacher (it was a home release class, and she was my mom’s friend so I got to know her really well) who was my mentor in my first years of junior high. She gave me the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson to read over the summer break. She said that once her husband was driving a car full of teenage boys to a camp and he made them listen to this book on tape. I’m glad that boys are getting an education about this stuff! Thanks Tavi for acknowledging problems like this instead of sweeping them under the rug with the rest of our insecurities.

  • KatherineMariae September 28th, 2011 5:31 PM

    I really enjoyed this article!
    I go to an all girls school and I dance for our brother school down the street. Everyday at the beginning we have to run a mile in front of the football team and they don’t even attempt to hide that they’re staring. A lot of times it’s funny, but other times I really just want them to stop staring so I can go about my business. The majority of them are never rude, but they also make it completely obvious that they are staring. When you are wearing short, awkwardly fitting practice shorts, you hardly want to see yourself in them much less have at least 75 teenage boys staring at you as you try not to pass out from running in the heat. Other times they are the reason that we keep going, our motivation to keep running. But if they are going to stare, can guys at least make it a little obvious?

    • KatherineMariae September 28th, 2011 5:32 PM

      * a little less

  • hirojin September 28th, 2011 5:39 PM

    @brodie Do not allow yourself to be devalued and labelled as “hysterical” when making a scene about something that is important. That is yet another form of control, another stumbling block. Of course, instead of making a sche, you can just calmly (but loud enough for everybody to hear) say “Filming a lady without her consent is not a very nice thing to do.”

    Regarding the theme of “guys shouting stuff from cars” — a majority of these only can do that because of their projected security of the car – and perhaps their car-inflated “size”.

  • Nancysimone September 28th, 2011 5:50 PM

    I am in graduate school in the US, and it’s as rampant at this level as it is in high school, unfortunately. I am British and moved over here for school, and my appearance is a constant topic of discussion. I dress very colorfully and like to express myself through my clothes, but I dress for myself, not for any kind of reaction. I also have the joyful experience of listening to any new person I meet repeat everything I say back to me in a fake English accent. Lovely.

    I am loving the site (and you Tavi)! x

  • kno September 28th, 2011 6:06 PM

    Great post, Tavi. I remember reading about the incident in your school last year and thinking “ugh is this the kind of place I want to send my kids to school?” (yes I’m at a point in my life where I have to at least start thinking about these things).

    As I’ve grown older I’ve gotten a little gutsier which means that I end up calling out leering old men more and more – on the train, on the street, wherever, for whistling at me, looking me up and down, catcalling. It’s freeing, speaking up and telling them not to do that, that it’s rude. My feeling is that the more we speak up, the less it may happen. If you embarrass a guy once, will they keep doing it? Maybe, but maybe not.

    And is it just my mom or are some of your mothers also quick to brush off your complaints of this kind of stuff happening? At this point I think my mom thinks that any attention is good attention. Oy vey.

    • Pashupati September 28th, 2011 7:16 PM

      My mom once saw a woman temoigning on the TV and said, “she just shouldn’t dress like that”… :/
      She doesn’t seems to think any attention is good, but that any attention was sought for.

  • WordyDoodles September 28th, 2011 6:22 PM

    Tavi, thank you so much for this post. I totally admire your work, and I would have so admired your way of speaking up when I was 15 because I totally did not speak up for myself then. I’m saying this as a now-confident 34-year-old professional with a fabulous job and as a mama of two girls– a job that really forced me to speak up.

    But it took a lot of self-awareness and courage to move past a lifetime of being invisible or unwanted or an “exotic beauty,” depending on who was doing the gazing.

    Basically, thank you for being a role model for us all on how to rock it.

  • kat September 28th, 2011 6:49 PM

    ha brilliant! in england the blokes that do all the whistling and bad driving are called white van men

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=white+van+man

  • warreno September 28th, 2011 6:54 PM

    I just wanted to register my wild applause for this article. Well done.

  • Pashupati September 28th, 2011 7:08 PM

    Thanks Tavi! And thanks other people behind Rookie! It always makes me feel better reading these kinds of articles, because otherwise I feel like I’m the bad one.
    There are so many people out there saying that people who get catcalled or worse want it, find it pleasurable, and are impolite and causing bad things to the catcallers when they don’t like it and that if I don’t it’s just because I have problems. In fact I’d ask if I could translate the article into french and give prints of it where they distribute zines in my city? (I’d leave the URL down the page, and the original english article too)

    Whenever I try to have a conversation with someone about that, a few things always come up:

    1. I’m an ass, a bad person for not wanting to talk to them/get talked about/get yelled to/get whistled at from the cowardmobile. They are just Nice Guys(tm) who find me cute and want me to know! :D :D :D (in my head it: :o :x :()
    2. It’s my fault/the fault of women like me if some of them are sad, scared singles. (maybe their relationships would get better if they didn’t force themselves on people? you can’t be confident in someone who keeps following you against your will and giving you comments on your body against your will to treat you well, care for you, and take your no as no in other situations.)
    3. Their female friends always find that flattering. Always. So they just dismiss every woman who doesn’t as the exception, every time. If you aren’t mentally troubled or anything, then your reason to be an exception is that you’re being “politically correct”.
    4. When someone asks something from you and you tell them “NO” they ask “WHY” like there should be a reason, and before stumbling on these feminists sites you don’t understand there *shouldn’t* be a reason. Some of them ask you when you’ll see them again, or to kiss them, or to touch them. Some of them always just begin a “normal” boring conversation and then act like you’ve accepted something and if you say no they ask you why, and if you threaten to call the cops tell you “you’re hardcore”.
    5. When I try talking about that, people always say that the catcallers and harassers may have Asperger’s syndrome and thus not understand that it’s not agreeable being whistled to from a car, and when you tell them no you are a bad person for thinking they are jerks for harassing you. I do have Asperger’s and social anxiety, so when/if I talk about how I get catcalled, harrassed and one day almost raped, people tell me it’s MY fault, because I don’t have a great body language, so these people don’t get that when I say no, walk away, insult them, refuse their money (they try to give you money, then complain all women are bad people because some accept it), threaten to talk to the cops, I really don’t want to talk/touch/kiss them/get in their car/go to their or my home with them. People directly told me to my face “Well, it’s because you have bad body language, people with Asperger’s have bad body language…”

    Catcallers and harrassers always say that you’re impolite/a bad person for making them feel like that. One person once told me to buy a “book about politeness”, like I was really stupid. The day I almost got raped, I kept staying because the dude faked not knowing french and I was scared of being impolite, so I touched his penis (after saying no and insulting him and trying to go and saying “good bye”…) hoping he’d let me go, and I let him touch me (after saying no, trying to go multiple times) under my clothes hoping it would be enough and he’d let me go, “accepted” to go in a pizzeria with him before that (and I always tried to go away, but I felt impolite, I was trapped) because when I insulted him he asked “WHY”. Then he pushed me on the wall because he wanted to kiss me and I said no, and he kept asking me to go to the park to make love with him, and he told me things like “Pleasure, me give you pleasure” and “if you no like me then say, if you not like me me sad” (so I was scared of breaking Nice Guy(tm) heart by being impolite when he actually tried to force me to make “love” with him). The next day a dude from the pizzeria he forced me to go to came and talked to me in fake don’t-know-french too, so I snapped and told him NO after he asked for my number and that jerk asked me WHY and I hurled “because I’m lesbian!”, he didn’t have the guts to continue bother me.

    I had my camera with me, and because a lot of people tried to get me into that kind of thing when I got out my camera — that dude asked me to take his picture before coming talk to me — I just can’t go out with the camera anymore because lot of people ask me to take their pictures and then act like I accepted something and ask me to kiss them, in front of their friends so it’s more embarrassing to explain why not. I was already ashamed before of going out with the camera as I just started to learn photography. So I paid near 500€ for something I can’t use outside my comfort zone (my house and yard and, if I have guts and there is nobody around).

    And when I say I can’t go out with my camera anymore because I’m scared, they tell me it’s because of my social anxiety, “everybody has problems”, I should get over it, and some people to which it happened still can go outside with their cameras.

    I also don’t know how to let a person know I like him without falling in the same category as these persons, so every step forward I’m scared of acting like they do.

    It also happened when I was still in school, a group of students waited all day in the park to insult me the morning, called me slut, etc., and another dude once in the corridor while a monitor brought me to my class (I was late of one hour for an exam) started telling me “hey, you’re pretty” and stuff, so I just ignored him and he started calling me slut (salope) because “he told me I was pretty” so therefore I didn’t have the right to react like that, then he told me I was ugly and after I started crying said I was a slut again. Older people tell me I’m immature for not being flattered, males that it’s misandry, etc. It’s really just an instrument of power.

    Last time I almost got forced to do something, an old guy caught my arm and pulled me as I walked away and tried to force me to follow him to his house, so I punched him in the face and walked away. He called me a slut, so I got close to him and said: “how dare you call me a slut when you are sexually harrassing me? He walked away after hesitating a bit. I know punching wasn’t a good idea, but he wouldn’t let me go.

    Then last time I got catcalled, I just looked down and said something ironical when the jerk was walking to the opposite side with his friend. I know it’s not good to look down, but sometimes I just feel someone might be dangerous and I look down, so they actually act how I’m scared they would, etc.

    It has happened to me since I’m 11 and my body wasn’t even adult-like back then (not that seeing an adult body makes it okay to catcall or harass the person). Yes, it even happened to me back then that they gave me money and told me to sit on their lap, touch them, etc. It happens to me near every time I leave my street that I get catcalled or someone comment on my body. How fucked up is that?

    That comment is a bit lenghty now, sorry.

  • puffytoad September 28th, 2011 7:11 PM

    This stuff sucks. One time a teenage boy said something to me so I gave him the middle finger. Then, he and his friend followed me on their bikes and he said it again. I didn’t react because I didn’t want the cycle to repeat for infinity. Now I just ignore people. It’s not my job to deal with them.

  • Pashupati September 28th, 2011 7:12 PM

    GOD!
    Sorry, didn’t notice it was *that* long. (I think it’s longer than the article…)
    You can remove irrelevant parts if it’s a problem.

  • Angie Bitchface September 28th, 2011 7:14 PM

    “Most of all, I want to be able to walk around my neighborhood and school without its being assumed that I am looking for feedback on my figure. You know, it really shouldn’t be so complicated.”

    THIS.

    thanks so much for writing this article! I don’t take shit off of creepy guys anymore…I used to ignore it, but now any guy who shouts at me outside a window or creeps on me on the street gets a look of death and/or a middle finger and/or a projectile thrown at their car. and any guy I know who does something egregiously misogynistic gets a LONG lecture on feminism and why it’s wrong to do that.

    in addition to being angry at the fact that men apparently think my body is public property, I really don’t understand what motivates guys to do this kind of stuff. do they actually think it’s going to help them get laid? it’s like Jerry Seinfeld said…men who honk their horns at women are completely out of ideas.

    once some dude started flirting with me and I gave him my number kind of just to get him to go away (the way men guilt women into giving them their numbers and stuff is a whole other topic) and I joked “just don’t send me a picture of your junk!” the next morning I wake up, and GUESS WHAT’S ON MY PHONE?? I immediately texted him being like “come on, really? what exactly were you hoping to accomplish here?” he was like “I was just trying to get your attention!” to which I responded “sending a picture of your junk is really not the way to get a woman’s attention. if you saw a hot chick on the subway, would you whip it out just to ‘get her attention’?” then he got all sheepish and apologetic. needless to say, I deleted his number.

    just last week some dude I know asked me to play bass in his metal band, despite the fact that I have no idea how to play bass, because — get this — he “wants a girl in the band for aesthetic reasons.” I totally bitched him out for that and explained to him why this was misogynistic, but I think he still didn’t get it, and I haven’t talked to him since. seriously, wtf is wrong with these people?!

  • upandicita September 28th, 2011 7:43 PM

    I’ve perfected the “awkward walk” which is kind of like the walk of an old lady whose rushing somewhere. You’ve seen it.

    I do this so as not to get harassed when walking passed construction sites. If applied subtly enough I’ve found it works like a charm.

    Also if someone cat calls me, I usually retort in man voice. “Your bald spot shines like the stars in the sky” or something.

    Yeah, I’m a weird girl, but it took a lot of catcalling to push me this far.

  • jenjencm September 28th, 2011 7:58 PM

    I can totally relate to what Naomi said! The exact same thing happened to my friend and I when we were walking home from school. I was just casually walking with my friend and these two guys stick their heads out the car shouting, “FUCK YOU BITCHES!” I was really pissed off and almost gave them the middle finger which I’ve never done before. I should’ve because they deserved it.

  • Thepunkrocker September 28th, 2011 8:19 PM

    I just have to say that you have always inspired me to be myself and all those girls don’t need guys like that. no one does.

  • Sugar September 28th, 2011 8:33 PM

    Oh, Girl, I needed this SO MUCH today. Thank you.

    I’m 23, and married. I’m also quite modest, and have very short hair. That’s just how I’m comfortable, unfortunately, it’s almost by default, because I get slightly LESS attention this way. Any time I want to dress up, and feel like the girly-girl that lies beneath my punk rock normalcy, the harassment comes in with a vengeance.

    Ugh… I wish I could type something more thought provoking, or eloquent, but I really am quite upset… a very creepy man who used to live in my apartment building, and still jumps the fence to hang out in the courtyard, apparently told his old roommate (who still lives here) that he “f*cked me”. His roommate, who I previously thought was a nice guy, seems to think it’s hilarious, and keeps joking about it to me, even after I told him it really wasn’t. He just laughed.

    Another one of my neighbours told me I’d be pretty if I just had some professional makeup application. Is it worse that I was wearing makeup at the time, or that he even felt that was warranted?

    Keep in mind that I NEVER ask for anyone’s opinion.

    Sorry this is so long, I’m just having a really bad day. :(

    • Burn-That-Dress September 29th, 2011 8:01 PM

      It always offends me when I have guys come up to me and say quite casually “uhh you know you COULD be real pretty if you changed A, B & C” and I’m just like, okkk and who the hell are you to tell me what’s pretty and what’s not AND what gives you the right to ask me to change who i am?!!

      I too feel like I have to dress down sometimes simply to avoid harassment, and then on days I go dress-up suddenly men think I did so for their benefit. uhhh wait a minute..no! I agree with Tavi, I dress for my version of beauty.

  • suprbert September 28th, 2011 8:49 PM

    Ladies, I am 42 years old and still pretty hot by most men’s and women’s standards…(in other words, still dealing w/ it). I can tell you that all this garbage gets easier the older you get and the more confidence you gain. The master keys to confident feminism and personal assertiveness are the following:
    1. Learn some serious self defense. Not “women’s self defense” (though this sort of thing is better than nothing) but go learn some REAL sh** like how to throw a punch that knocks people out, etc. It’s like a tool you hope you never have to use, but if you do it’s in the box, ready. I once broke a guys nose on the subway in Atlanta.. long story but trust that I was glad I knew how to handle myself.
    2. Cultivate the right attitude. We are programmed practically from birth by our culture to be “ladies.” That’s BS. You can be all woman and not be a lady. Figure out what this means to you and stand strong.
    3. Get a mentor. Find an older, confident woman who has already navigated this mess for a few decades and seek her advice. You’d be amazed how much it means to be able to talk freely about some of this stuff…if it’s your mom, all the better. If it isn’t, your mom’s still cool but find someone who gets it.
    Go, Girls!!

  • rayano-banano September 28th, 2011 8:59 PM

    Tavi I’m so sorry you and your classmates had to go through this, on behalf of the male population I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say besides guys just don’t think sometimes…

    • Tavi September 28th, 2011 9:25 PM

      I know it’s not all of you guys! I really hope you don’t feel bad or responsible or anything.

  • appledarling September 28th, 2011 9:08 PM

    i just walked home today and had a horrible experience of a catcall… this kind of brightened up my day.

  • sweeteelou September 28th, 2011 9:13 PM

    ” The girl said she was encouraged by the response of some boys at the school, several of whom confronted those handing out the fliers.

    “It was a pleasant surprise,” she said. “One guy, a basketball player, took a whole file folder from a guy and threw them in the garbage.” ” – Newspaper
    Article

    These are the boys that I know have exceptionally fantastic mothers.

    I loved the article. Fantastic job, Tavi.

  • Jenny September 28th, 2011 9:31 PM

    Tavi, this wonderful! Thank you for starting this conversation that, unfortunately for us girls, we must continue to have. There is no worse feeling than trying to talk about how sickening and horrifying and annoying and sometimes truly frightening it is to be sexually harassed and gazed upon only to be met with “What’s the big deal?” And yeah, sometimes when someone says to me, “I don’t see what’s so horrible about it,” I feel weary, like “Are you serious? Why is it always up to me, up to us girls who already have to deal with this shit all the time, to explain this shit to you, yet again?” This article is the greatest, ever! <3

  • MichyMich September 28th, 2011 9:51 PM

    MichyMich September 28th, 2011 9:50 pm
    I ALWAYS hate it whenever creepy guys look at my body. I remember the first time when I was leered at by some really old (like, ancient) construction guy and I was with my mom at the sidewalk. When I was passing by that creeper, he LOOKED at my boobs and legs (I was wearing an American Apparel striped bodysuit and skinny jeans with triangle cutouts at the side) and said, “Ooh” with his eyes BULGING out. Honestly, I didn’t ASK for his bloody attention.

    Thankfully, this article made me feel more comfortable whenever I read about girls like me being hit on my pervs.

  • Hazel September 28th, 2011 9:54 PM

    Perfect perfect perfect. I am still troubled when I meet girls who brag about this sort of encounter.

    • Jenny September 28th, 2011 10:30 PM

      Hazel: Me too! So, so troubled. The same way I am troubled when I say something like, “Ugh, this super racist thing happened to me/to someone,” and then someone who is also a person of color (or worse even if that person is the same ethnicity as me or the same ethnicity as the person who experienced racism) says, “I think that’s hilarious and not racist at all!” It completely invalidates the truth of the person who experienced the harassment/sexism/racism/homophobia/etc and what’s worse, is when it plants this idea in other people’s minds like, well if this WOMAN/GIRL/PERSON OF COLOR/GAY/BI/QUEER/TRANS/whatever person is not at all offended and even LIKES this kind of treatment, then why is this loser (me, person trying to talk about his/her experience of harassment/humiliation/bigotry) complaining? It gives me sad face and sad heart.

  • Marie September 28th, 2011 10:15 PM

    Oh man this was so awesome Tavi. This is something my best friend and I talk about (and deal with) constantly. Going to make sure she reads it now. She’s going to freak out.

    xoxoxo

  • arwex September 28th, 2011 10:57 PM

    “I shouldn’t have to have a strategy for preserving my personal space.”

    this a million times over. genius.

    In my experience, refusing to allow comments about my body and appearance started in my closest circles of family and friends. Once I was able to take a stand and let my mom, my best friend–heck, my brother especially!–know that I wouldn’t take certain comments anymore, it became second nature to carry that into interactions with complete strangers.
    As a twentysomething, I have zero tolerance for unnecessary, unwelcome comments and behaviour (from both men AND women) and I wish I had developed it earlier. Keep being awesome, ladies!

  • Pashupati September 28th, 2011 11:46 PM

    I notice another fear I have now and didn’t before I started getting catcalled/harrassed in the streets, would be people verbally or physically aggressing me if I ever become unattractive, for being unattractive. Maybe other people here share the same fear.

  • andy September 29th, 2011 12:29 AM

    I’m a guy, and this makes me sad. It’s so ignorant to be unaware and apathetic towards what girls are having to deal with.

  • C September 29th, 2011 12:33 AM

    It’s so sad that a young woman, or really any woman, being comfortable with themselves results in a guy visually taking advantage of the situation.

    I was home schooled, and so never had to deal with average teenage boys, but it is so sad how they truly seem to have a lack of respect, even when nothing is exposed for them to ogle. I was talking to my neighbor girls outside in the cool fall weather the other day, they’re both around 14, I’m 18, and we were all covered up, nothing to see here, and a truck of local high school boys yelled a couple things at us. It made me so upset to think that these talented, amazing, beautiful young ladies have to go to school and deal with that nonsense.

    Attention from a guy can be flattering and appreciated even if you’re comfortable with yourself, but only when done properly. I loved it when a guy friend told me that he liked the way I did my hair for a wedding and that I simply looked very nice, and I knew that I looked good that day, but sweet compliments always help :)

    I was just in NYC for the first time, and since it was kinda hot there wore a shorter dress one day, and a kinda cleavagey tank another. Both days there was that sort of feeling that you’re getting looked at that instantly makes you feel uncomfortable, but then a few times, a couple of younger guys looked me directly and only in the eyes, and gave a quick smile. And it’s sad that there isn’t more of that kind of politeness and respect today

  • Monty September 29th, 2011 12:51 AM

    I’m sure everyone else is thinking that this sounds just like that episode of My So Called Life.
    I’ve never been hooted or hollered at in anyway, so I can’t even relate, but other than being with friends who get cat called.
    We didn’t have the cliches either, I wish we did so I could relate/lived it.

  • katiedd September 29th, 2011 3:35 AM

    Great post! It’s always driven me crazy how guys feel that they are Entitled to have an opinion on a woman’s physical appearance. Their ‘unsolicited advice’ is so commonplace that no one really stops to think about how oppressive and harmful it is, that they use it to try to keep women in their ‘place.’

    My friend Emily decided to dye her hair (natural brown) to blonde last winter, and SO many guys flat-out TOLD her not to (because THEY liked it better brown.) I’ve had the same response to my hair, which I’ve worn in a sort of pixie-cut for four years now. Since that time, I’ve lost track of how many guys (some who barely even knew me!) have told me I should ‘grow my hair out’.

  • julalondon September 29th, 2011 4:27 AM

    This is such a good article. I think evrybody knows this shitty feeling when you stay at the bus stop for example and loads of male driver are just staring at you, -HATE THIS!!! I never actually read about it, omg you are younger than me and write such a badass article! Thank you Tavi.

  • September 29th, 2011 4:35 AM

    So good. For me it comes down to having respect for people. Rookie House Rule #2: “Don’t be a jerk, ok?” – I could not agree more!

  • rosefeminisme September 29th, 2011 5:29 AM

    Great article – thank you Tavi! I only wish more of this had been around when I was a teenager myself (I’m only 22, but what a difference those few years make – in my formative teen years there really wasn’t much in the way of feminist literature making the rounds).

    From the age of 14 or so, I’ve had so much of this – ranging from honking horns to ‘nice ass’ to ‘give us a smile love’, to a man yelling, as a I ran for the bus ‘bounce, baby, bounce!’, and the most recent delightful invitation: ‘sit on my dick’.

    I think your article pretty much sums up how I feel about this type of behaviour. As does Barbara Kruger: http://lindsaypollock.com/wp929/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/6Kruger_Untitled2-490×645.jpg

  • M. Kitka September 29th, 2011 9:23 AM

    First of all, SO GLAD that Rookie Mag exists.
    Secondly, my neighborhood has been the site of some definite discomfort on the street for me… self consciousness, feeling watched in an uncomfortable way, cat-calls etc. from people on a nearby busy street.

    I’ve started walking home a different way, (through the residential area instead of the main drag) and found a pleasant and surprising change: there are mostly young people around, hanging out at a nearby school or just kids who live in the area… and they do to me what can only be called the parallel universe catcall… This is the good kind and it makes me so happy! It’s mostly young women, but also young men and occasionally older adults too. They’ll make eye contact (if I’m willing), smile in a neighborly way and say something like “I like your outfit” or “cool hair”and it is so incredibly non-creepy it makes me want to not just get rid of street harassment but REPLACE IT with kindness, politeness and gentle compliments. Not “rating” a body or clothing or person but just the kind of gentle niceness you’d say to a friend… or, apparently, a neighbor! :-)

    I know maybe not everyone would feel comfortable with this but for me, when this happens, I feel really supported and have a strong feeling of loyalty towards my community… it makes me want to pass it on! :-)

  • Emi September 29th, 2011 9:38 AM

    I’m so emotional over this. You’ve articulated everything I’ve felt over the last 15 years of my life flawlessly. I hope this post reaches the eyes of as many young women as possible. Thanks for being strong and holding it down.

  • natasha September 29th, 2011 10:36 AM

    I loved this article.
    I can obviously relate… I don’t understand men. I just don’t understand WHAT they think they’re doing. Are they just incredibly shortsighted? Are they ruthless? Are they cold? Are they mean? Are they spiteful? Those are all negative things and I don’t get why any person wouldn’t try to suppress a negative trait, why they even solemnise it. Or do they think saying and doing those things is a good trait?? I just don’t understand

    • oriana September 30th, 2011 1:55 AM

      Me neither! One time in high school I was waiting for my ride under a tree near campus (by myself) and these guys were walking by and started looking at me and yelled “hey prettygirl, why ain’t you smiling? why ain’t you smilin pretty girl? put a smile on that little face of yours!” and one of them whistled and they were all laughing. I was mortified. I was embarrassed. I was NOT flattered, it did not make me feel pretty. I don’t understand if they were mocking me or if they were trying to make me actually smile or what!! I hated that so much.

  • tossed September 29th, 2011 10:37 AM

    i’m sure you’ve all seen this, but this article made me think of this quote:
    “You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’. ”
    -Erin Mckean

  • bmonkey September 29th, 2011 12:46 PM

    Man, if I only I had gone through my (very, very, very small) high school with the same attitude and perseverance as you show here.

    You’re truly a shining attribute to the feminist cause. It took me years–and I’m still learning–to truly put into words the scars of oppression, especially of the daily experience of women, in the eloquent way you have here.

    It should be noted, though it may not be an important factor, that I’m in GRADUATE SCHOOL for feminism, and your words AMAZE me. Not necessarily because what you say is unfamiliar to me, but, rather, that you’ve managed to make such conclusions so eloquently when so many systems of oppression exist to put you in a position of (near) voicelessness. I’m truly impressed and can only hope that, when I have kids, I can raise them to be as critical as you are, Tavi.

    p.s. and A effin’ plus on the grammar. You give me hope that there is still something to the public school system (as it, in many ways, truly failed me).

    ____

    To others who are reacting to women who respond to these comments or see them as a positive thing:

    You can’t blame them. Not that they aren’t guilty for perpetuating the act, but because they’ve been brought up in a system that deems them valuable by the characteristics that these guys comment on. Though we can hold them responsible this, don’t lose your empathy for their situation. We were all in the dark once, and whether or not we had an inkling of how WRONG these interactions truly are, we certainly didn’t know how to express them (unless, of course, you’re Tavi!).

    The best thing you can do? Explain your position (in the most unthreatening voice possible *rolls eyes*) and give them the language to voice what they may, deep down, ALSO have a problem with.

    And at the very least, you have one more person — if all goes well — that is sympathetic to YOUR daily existence.

  • sarcasmbattle September 29th, 2011 1:39 PM

    This post is incredibly accurate.

    In addition to street catcalling and leers, I worked in an office with a bunch of college/grad school guys over the summer and I was the only high school girl there. I’m not sure how this was interpreted as an opportunity to make jokes about women’s subservience in a male-dominated working culture, but these guys had no problems joking about much like Mad Men our office was. This is when they weren’t cracking jokes about my gender, age, or just sex in general. This all took place in City Hall, by the way.

    What gives them the right to do this? Because I certainly didn’t sign any forms volunteering to be harassed. This needs to change.

  • ShockHorror September 29th, 2011 1:45 PM

    I’ve only just recently found this website (yesterday to be exact) and already I love it!

    Wonderful article (:

  • Whatsername September 29th, 2011 2:46 PM

    Honestly, we shouldn’t blame guys for checking girls out. People checking each other out is just in their nature; a lot of the time they’re doing it subconsciously.
    However, when they think they have the right to voice their opinion of how you look, that’s just creepy. They need to keep their thoughts to themselves.

  • Becca M September 29th, 2011 5:22 PM

    This is an awesome post, Tavi. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been whistled at (while biking with my mom and my younger brother) and honked at (while running with my dad) and it’s just…embarrassing.

    On a sort-of related note, in my social justice class, my teacher (who happens to be a woman) handed out this Male Privilege Checklist to the class: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/ . It basically highlights things men in society benefit from (and are usually unaware of) that harms women. One of these was about catcalling, etc: “Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me [the average man]. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment.”

    It was depressing enough to hear guys in my class say things like “Well, MAYBE some of these are true, but definitely not all of them”. I couldn’t tell if it was worse when two girls said that these things were true, but that they didn’t bother them.

  • celestica September 29th, 2011 7:44 PM

    all this kills me, it really does because i’d really fucking hate it to wake up and feel like i can’t wear something i really love because i know a car will pass by and whistle or boys will begin to comment on it and i don’t know if this makes sense but i’m really bothered by all this shit that girls have to put up with. we never asked for the boys’ opinion. we didn’t ask if our ass looked nice or if our top was tight in the right areas. i know when i was younger a boy told me that he didn’t like the way i look with my hair up and because of that i wore it up for the rest of the year. i don’t know if that’s relevant or not, though.

  • Burn-That-Dress September 29th, 2011 7:52 PM

    This is a fantastic article that I think any girl/woman can relate to. I’ve tried numerous times to explain to my male friends who think I’m being paranoid that daily tasks such as walking to the store or taking the public bus can turn into a frightful or annoying experience. There have been various times when I have been hit on, harassed and whatnot while ridding the bus JUST because I happen to be female. None of my male friends who take the bus have to deal with creepy men looking them up and down, asking if they are “for sale”(true story), or smugly remarking in front of everyone that “your sexy ass and my sexy self would make beautiful babies”. There’s a fine line between what men perceive as flirting and women see as harassment. And you make such a valid point, why do they think permission is granted to scrutinize OUR bodies? In doing so they take away our self worth, our title or human being and demote us females as inanimate dolls.

    I’m going on a rant here(ho ho your article is sooo good) but why is it that females constantly have to look over their shoulders, take self defense lessons and learn to grow thicker skin? It’s truly sad to know that we girls do just roll our eyes with a shrug and a sigh, it’s about time we start holding society responsible and start changing the rules, and I think awareness(such as this article) is a step in the right direction.

  • oriana September 30th, 2011 1:50 AM

    During the summer when I was 16 I was walking home from the supermarket with my younger sister who was 14 at the time, and we actually had someone slow down next to us and ask us to get in as he looked at us up and down. we freaked out and walked in the opposite direction of traffic. he then drove around the block to make it seem like he’d left, only to pop out again across the street. he quickly got out of the car and started yelling/motioning at us to come over. he wasn’t kidding either. my sister and i sprinted to 7-11 because it was so horrifying. i was crying and that was the first time I’d been seriously objectified. ECK ECK ECK BARF

  • oriana September 30th, 2011 2:00 AM

    wooah wait, i’m sorry for commenting again but this post has made me realize for the first time ever that I have been objectified many times when i was growing up and it made me feel bad and self-conscious and i didn’t like it at all. i never put the two together before. i feel like nobody ever addresses this so i just internalized all of those encounters and shrugged it off like it was nothing.

    there definitely needs to be more awareness about harassment, thank you for writing this article!

  • TelevisioN September 30th, 2011 12:44 PM

    I hate that I’ve been that guy with the moronic/scary stare. Fighting the conditioning that says it’s okay has been one of the bigger challenges in my life.

  • Mae September 30th, 2011 2:20 PM

    All the stories in the comments have made me realize how lucky I’ve been. Even though I take a train and the subway to high school in Boston every day, often in questionable attire, I’ve never in 4 years been catcalled. Granted, this may be because I look like a 12-year old boy and have perfected the “I’m tired, stressed, and pissed so if you bother me I will eviscerate you” look, but my female classmates’ experiences are the same. Similarly, I go to a weird hippie school and haven’t had problems there either, if you don’t count the time a guy rested his hand on my ass, but that was an honest, awkward accident.
    I guess the point I want to make is that there are some places where this situation with the male gaze exists to a lesser extent; there are enlightened, or at least inhibited men out there.

  • Annebeth September 30th, 2011 5:56 PM

    I just want to weigh in here to tell you guys that you are probably changing lives by telling teenagers about this stuff. I’m waiting for posts about slut shaming and more of those typical feminist subjects that just don’t get talked about enough. I mean, it concerns half of the fucking population, yet we don’t here anything about it unless we go looking for it. Insane, absolutely insane. Woman truly is the nigger of the world.

    anyway: GREAT job, absolutely relevant, and comprehensible. Tavi and co, you guys are changing things, and you are my rolemodels. I am dreaming of doing something similar for Belgian teenagers (an intelligent e-zine for girls), so keep inspiring me!

  • Jenna September 30th, 2011 8:23 PM

    This is an excellent post.

  • Cannibalope September 30th, 2011 8:43 PM

    Try “Call me when you’re old enough to shave.” This was a great article!

  • Valeska October 1st, 2011 3:53 PM

    WOMENPOWER!

  • isthisrelevant October 1st, 2011 7:33 PM

    My go-to response to any dude cat-calling or harrassing me on the street is always a deadpan “This is the reason you’re going to die alone”. Shuts them up every single time!

  • stellar October 1st, 2011 10:58 PM

    experienced it both ways. in junior high, it was like everything was ‘open to discussion’ and it didn’t go both ways, either. fresh out of high school and what do i run into but some 40 year old guy (who should know better) telling i ‘must be sexually frustrated’ because of a minor disability. ironically later on, experiencing catcalls from passing cars, propositions after conversations, and being hit on while obviously wearing an engagement ring on my finger (or told to ‘lose the boyfriend’ on a bus before that ‘and go out with me’). is there something missing in the male brain that needs to be checked out more?

  • brettashley October 2nd, 2011 4:00 AM

    It’s actually a really interesting experiment to “catcall” a group of guys.
    Considering they have no problem doing this to a girl, theyseem to have absolutely no idea what to do with themselves when placed in a similar situation.
    Perhaps it makes them think twice the next time they are driving past a “hot girl”.

  • LLinNYC October 3rd, 2011 4:55 PM

    This truly never goes away. The sad part is my instinct is always to say something cutting and mean — rather than witty and wise and thought-provoking — because it makes me so angry that it’s all I think of in the moment.

    I’m much more likely to be all, “Do you really want to know what *I* think about what YOU’RE wearing?,” which only makes me feel worse about myself — as if the whole experience needed any help.

  • saranev October 3rd, 2011 4:56 PM

    Thank goodness for eloquent articles like this. I was trying to make a similar point (re: how boys/men somehow feel that simply looking at a woman is permission to comment/catcall/whistle/yell/be obnoxious) in my current Women’s Studies class and I always end up sounding really inarticulate (read: I get so mad that I end up word-vomiting all over the place). I need to read more xoJane and Jezebel and Rookie to be a better messenger for the feminist cause… GIRL POWER.

  • everythingiscolorful October 4th, 2011 9:13 PM

    YES. I have nothing to say except thank you, Tavi, and everyone.

  • RockHatesMiriam October 5th, 2011 1:32 PM

    Thanks to Rookie for proving that feminists are not just hairy-legged haters of the Y chromosome, but intelligent young women that refuse to be disrespected..
    http://rockhatesmiriam.blogspot.com

    • emar October 7th, 2011 2:24 PM

      No feminist should have to prove any of that. I refuse to be disrespected because I don’t feel like shaving my legs for aesthetic reasons that have nothing to do with hygiene and for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the Y chromosome.

  • Joser October 7th, 2011 1:34 AM

    This is so amazing Tavi. I wish you had been around when I was 15. Puberty and the resulting unexpected attention it brought me inspired a lot of anger, upset and frustration in me, which in turn gave me a discomfort and dislike of my own sexuality which took me a long time to shake off. I only wish I had women around me then who could have given me the courage to deal with it better. I also wish I could have given this article to an ex boyfriend of mine who was convinced that there is no need for feminism in this modern day and age, as it expresses so eloquently the frustration that I failed to explain to him!

  • Alkyoni October 7th, 2011 5:30 AM

    Oh yes, I do know the feeling of getting “compliments” on the street. Especially since I’m kinda… buxom.
    However, I do not have that problem in school. My classmates take me quite seriously. If they say stuff then it’s behind my back. Probably because a glare from me can silence them. Frankly, I’ve always been that girl who is nice to everyone as long as she’s not attecked, verbally or otherwise. Then I get verbally vicious – and without even using foul language. It’s not something I enjoy but it works I guess.
    That thing with that guy at your school was very mean. I donot understand where these guys get their attitude. It might not be their fault but it is essentially part of the education they have gotten. And I by education I do not mean degrees and stuff. I’m talking about manners.
    I think that the worst thing about these “compliments” is that they are not made in a nice way. They’re made in a leery manner as if they’re all that for say stuff. I refer to myself as an artist and I admit that I am not embarrashed to tell a guy he’s handsome but I only say it because I believe it. Because according to my aesthertic criteria he is beautiful. I like beauty of all kinds. But I rarely sense the same thing when someone on the street says something to me. You get it from their attitude, the way they talk.
    Ok, I’m going to end this post here because I kind of get the feeling I’m babbling.
    Cheers Tavi from a fan from Greece.

  • emar October 7th, 2011 2:22 PM

    To the girl who said guys stare at her and her female classmates running past – that happens to me too! I’m trying to convince my teammates to run by with a banner that says “THIS IS A PRACTICE NOT A PARADE” and flip everyone off. But the banner would make it a parade, no?

  • Pashupati October 9th, 2011 4:50 AM

    In addition to the Male Privilege Check List:
    http://hollabackdc.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/street-harassment-bingo/
    Street Harrassment Bingo Card
    The “they are sincerely trying to be nice to you”… One day I made someone feel marginalized while trying to be inclusive; I was still making him feel and be marginalized, so I apologized and learned more about the ways I was making the person marginalized.
    If you put your house on fire while trying to light a candle, you still did put your house on fire and should better throw water at it.

  • nonamecat October 10th, 2011 8:14 PM

    Loved the article. I just want to add something in response to some comments that, to me, imply that women are the cause for male disrespecting of the female body.

    Mothers do have a lot of involvement in the shaping of the image of women in the eyes of their sons, but fathers too should be just as concerned and involved. Boys are not at the mercy of their mothers’ teachings. They learn their behaviours from peers, and from people they look up to (often men) and process these thoughts for themselves. Don’t blame mothers for a societal problem!

  • idontevenknow October 11th, 2011 4:57 PM

    This is such an amazing article, and you really are one of my biggest inspirations, not just in fashion but also life. I’m sick of teen magazines written jut by adults that think they know how we are and how insecure we can feel. And I’m sick of arses like the guy in this article who think they have permission to do whatever the fuck they want. I can honestly say this is my favorite, most inspirational website on the internet, so thank you so so much Tavi, and every other brilliant writer who works on this.

  • Annathan April 22nd, 2012 11:09 AM

    What a great read! This was really well-written. My friends and I have to go through this crap all the time, and I agree with other comments that it’s human nature to look at other people, but to make comments and act inappropriately? Absolutely not. So thank you :)

  • KatiCleo April 22nd, 2012 7:47 PM

    i want to say a bit thank you to Tavi and the rest of Rookie staff for this post. It really made me think ( at 2am in the morning tho : / )
    I have frequent encounters with catcalls, whistles and all that in my 17th year. I have learned to ignore them, and in days when I feel down, they can even flatter me. But there was still one time when some guys on the street approached me and said something really offencive which i dont particularly remember, and got me mad enough to give them a nasty respond. After that, unlike what I was used to, they followed me throughout the alleys and threw some really ugly comments at me that made me piss my pants. I was so scared I thought I was gonna get raped! Ever since then, I dont give a reply no matter how bad the harrassment is, with exceptions of course.
    there has also been one time at school, when my jeans where a bit big on me I guess and when my girl friend grabbed me frm behind, she made my buttcrack be on clear view. Even though there are not many perverted guys in my school, a couple of them started making fun of me and asked me whether I have a hairy butt (which I do not, but it still made me feel like crap and actually believe I had a hairy butt). At that time I was too upset to give them a proper reply, but this post made me think of that time, and I think that tomorrow some΄s ¨private spot¨ is gonna get a big kick! I don΄t care if they become unable to have children, I΄m merely gonna save the woman who would let her genes go to waste!
    Again, thank you.

  • Nikilodeon April 23rd, 2012 8:50 AM

    It’s funny how, as girls, we put so much value into guys noticing us. But I get this disgusted, violated feeling whenever a guy stares inappropriately or makes some kind of comment or tries to talk to me in a really icky way (a much older man once went up to me, flanked by all his icky old man friends, and tried to strike up a conversation in a really creepy way). I really don’t know any girls who whistle at guys or ogle their junk (well, maybe there are some, but that’s besides the point). It’s just really unfair how some rude guys think they have a right to treat girls like they have no feelings, like they’re a piece of meat. It’s disgusting and I wish there was some way we could put an end to this disgusting behaviour, which for some absurd reason is so tolerated in society.

  • Nikilodeon April 23rd, 2012 8:52 AM

    ** I meant how we put so much value into guys noticing us in a GOOD way! But sometimes instead of that, we get very negative, unwanted attention. :(

  • Nikilodeon April 23rd, 2012 8:53 AM

    ***And even then, as Tavi says, we really shouldn’t care that guys notice us whether it’s good or bad attention, because other people don’t have a right to say whether we’re “attractive” or not. UGH sorry so many comments! This is just such a sensitive issue and I don’t wanna offend anyone, so I’d just like to clarify what I meant.

  • May 15th, 2013 1:25 PM

    Yep this is true. No girl wants for some random stranger to put them on a list like that idiot did or loudly comment about their butt or boobs and whatnot. It’s really messed up…

  • Maia O'Young May 25th, 2013 5:52 AM

    this makes me pretty emotional, because just today some guys just flat out called me a hooker, in the middle of a busy street, as i was standing waiting for a friend in a short skirt and heel boots. and i love wearing mini skirts, and attention had never really bothered me, but i just felt so down and shit all the rest of the afternoon. i gave them the finger when they passed a second time and said something similar, but all i can think about it what i should have said- telling them off for putting me down, asking what the hell was their problem with the way i dress. its made me realise that before i didnt really care too much if a car passed and honked, but this afternoon i wanted to rip that skirt off- i didnt want to walk the rest of the way down the street to meet my friend or make eye contact with any guys, whereas usually i would smile at people. its frustrating to think about how much that comments affected me, when i know they’re just stupid guys who i’ll never see again. anyway, its comforting reading other people’s comments and this article. thats why i thought i’d mention this.