The Wallpaper Factor
I saw an article recently about a woman who wore a hidden camera to show how many times she received harassment from men in a day. The article brought back a memory of some advice I received from an elderly woman not too long ago.
Before I go any further, let me be the first to acknowledge that there is an entire spectrum of uninvited harassment that women receive from a basic hello to lewd comments and gestures. And there is also an entire spectrum of feelings that women exhibit in response to these from indifference to discomfort and many times fear. AND, since I am putting out all the necessary qualifications I need to in order to go on about my random thoughts, let me also acknowledge that cat calling and harassment can happen to anyone from anyone regardless of gender. There.
Anyways… I’m not gonna lie, I don’t mind the basic, non-threatening holler or comment from random strangers. I find them to be a mini-self esteem boost and actually appreciate someone taking notice. I realize that the impetus of the comments has absolutely nothing to do with me. They are just attention seeking behaviors that would be thrown at any woman standing on the sidewalk at that moment. But since said man took the liberty to extend his holler, glance or compliment, I will take the liberty to interpret it how I want to and decide that yes, I am awesome and I do look hot today.
Several months ago, I was walking to a restaurant with an elderly woman who I admire very much. She’s a class act and has been at the forefront of some of the major arts and social movements in Cleveland. In 1961, she was the first woman to walk through the front doors of the oldest social club in Cleveland (est. 1872) that until then had been exclusively men. On that walk to the restaurant, I was the recipient of a very loud and animated compliment from a man passing by. I mentioned to this woman that I was always conflicted on how to respond in these moments. She stopped walking, looked straight at me and said, “You say thank you.” Continue reading