The route to the train station is a new one and it took me by a construction site.There were a few men driving around in their massive trucks, doing builder-y things. It wasn't hard to see them leering at me. I hadn't thought anything about throwing a dress on, but now I felt exposed. Was my mid-length dress to short? This blatant leering, should I be disgusted? One of them leaned over his forklift and said 'Nice ass' to his mate. I looked around and it was just me. Me and a handful of men staring at my behind.
I walked faster, and ignored them. Should I change how I dress? Fuck them. I'm not an object on display to be leered at regardless of what I'm wearing, but there's no channel of communication, no dialogue to say put your eyes back in your head, that's not okay to say things like that. I don't like it, and I'd like to walk through a public space without comments made about my body.
I walked down a bit further and hit the high st, and started comparing what I was wearing with the rest of the crowd. Her jeans are pretty tight, her skirt is longer, but her arms are bare. Did they get leered at this morning? Does what you wear even matter?
Here is a terrible bathroom selfie I took later in the day when I was still pondering whether clothes were a factor. Turns out clothing? 100% beside the point. Harassment is never okay.
I felt pretty disgusting. And then I wondered how much of this was in my head, how much is bias and context. I've been following the bigger conversation about street harassment (you've seen this video, right?) and yeah, when I'm out alone I'm fully aware of who's around and how close they are to me. Do I have to worry about that guy walking behind me? Should I cross? If it's after hours and it's dark I call Zee on the walk home. If he's not available I've got a handful of people I call. Nothing more that catcalling has ever happened, but better to be safe than not safe.
I think that's the worst bit, really. Sometimes I don't know if I'm safe, or not safe. I don't know if the guy trailing down the street behind me is going to his house or stalking me. I don't know if people are just looking, or leering, taking the time to form some horrible remark. They could have been admiring my shoes or looking at my tattoo cause they're ink aficionados or something. It could be innocuous. Or it could be harassment. I didn't take todays builders innocously, though. Sure enough, an ass comment followed.
It's not okay. Commenting on a women's appearance in a public place is not okay. Don't do it.