So we are walking on some busy pavement when some guy who is seemingly drunk starts harassing us subtly because we didn’t return his advances. The man even changes the direction he was walking towards and starts talking stridently and hurling insults towards us. Other passersby notice but they keep walking like it’s nothing. The drunk finally tires and walks away. We were just walking minding our business, why wouldn’t he do the same?
Second instance: I and my cousins have just bought a mattress and we are at the stage waiting for a Matatu to board, when a guy starts saying that we should invite him to come warm the mattress because a lady is purportedly not supposed to sleep on a new mattress alone. At this point I am clearly really irritated and tell him off. His ego is wounded and he starts threatening that I don’t know what he is capable of when angry. All this time his peers at the stage listen and say nothing.
These two true instances are just a drop in the ocean when it comes to what we as ladies go through every day. When a woman complains of being cat called or harassed the first thing people ask about is what she was wearing. Why should a lady’s choice on dressing be blamed for a man’s inappropriate behavior?
Statistics show that 65% of all women have experienced street harassment. This is according to a survey done in the U.S.A, which I suspect the number could even be higher in Africa.
How many times have we seen women being stripped of their clothing in the name of dressing immodestly? How backwards is that? This disrespectful act shows that some men still view women as public property to be handled how one wishes. It’s 2017! How can one still be holding on to that kind of mentality. You have a mother, sister, aunts etc. If you can’t stand them being cat called or harassed why do it to someone’s daughter/sister/mother/wife?
An encounter with a street harasser anywhere is creepy, upsetting, scary and very annoying. It’s not a debatable topic: Women don’t appreciate unsolicited advances or what’s baptized by some as “compliments”.
I blame this kind of behavior on our culture that promotes a macho behavior. This is basically a display of dominance. It’s also a form of sexism in our society, where men basically feel like they can say anything to the women at any time, and that women should just take it.
Street harassment is not trivial or something that women are asking for. Everyone has a right to feel comfortable and safe in public spaces.