Why aren’t you smiling?
February 5, 2009 § 6 Comments
I experience street harassment practically on a daily basis. In the morning on the way to school, I often hear comments like ‘hey baby’ or ‘good morning, beautiful.’ Not to mention gems such as the one I heard recently, ‘I love the way you walk, but I’d bet I’d love you even more lying down.’ Mmm…I love my coffee with a side of harassment in the morning. However, the most obnoxious form of street harassment in my opinion is the kind that is not outwardly sexual, yet equally invasive and unacceptable. I’m talking about the comments I get when I don’t respond to the first come-on. For example, sometimes I just get a ‘hello’ or a ‘what’s your name?’ When I don’t respond, I get a comment like, ‘why you gotta be so mean?’ or ‘come on baby, I’m just trying to be nice.’ As if I’m supposed to respond to every sketchy man that approaches me on a sidewalk when I’ve clearly got more important things to do. Another extremely annoying comment is ‘why aren’t you smiling?’ I know a lot of young women get this one all the time.
The problem with these seemingly innocent comments is that they are a classic expression of the rape culture that we have created in our society. We make it acceptable for men to catcall women without fearing any punishment. Hell, I’ve been hit on by police officers! With comments like ‘why you gotta be so mean?’ or ‘come on baby, I’m just trying to be nice,’ these men expect us to not only passively receive their come-ons, but to thank them. Thanks sketchy man drinking beer at 8:30 a.m. for harassing a minor on her way to school!
I think that the blame can’t solely be placed upon the men that harass women on the street, in the subway or anywhere really. There has to be something wrong with a society that tells these men that the only way they can assert their masculinity is by catcalling women. That’s rape culture, folks! Men are expected to assert their masculinity in this damaging way, and women are expected to endure it. Fuck, we’re even blamed when we don’t endure it passively; ‘why you gotta be so mean?’ ‘why aren’t you smiling?’ Maybe it’s because I’m being hit on by a gross, much older man first thing in the morning and he expects me to be into it.