Last week, I met a friend at my local shopping centre for a coffee.
After parking my car outside, the small task that stood before me was walking past an outdoor cafe and into the complex. Simple, no?
As I approached the cafe, I noticed there was a group of 3 men and a woman smoking, on a table outside. I was aware (what female isn’t?) when their heads turned to appraise my face, my hair, my body, as I came nearer.
Not knowing where to look, I concentrated on the concrete before me. Sometimes I just don’t feel like dealing with a group of people evaluating my appearance.
One man said, “I like your hair.”
Yes, well, I have big hair. I love it. Thanks man. I responded appropriately and kept walking.
After I had passed them, another yelled out, “How much?!”
I am not angry because I was compared to a sex worker; I have met many women in the industry who are incredibly gracious and lovely.
I am angry because someone who doesn’t know anything about me believes that they have the right to insinuate that I have a price. That my body is worth monetary value.
I am angry because the perpetrator is male, and he is not aware of the way in which comments and objectification like that take power away from me, nor is he concerned about how it makes his female friend, who is sitting next to him, feel.
I am angry because our society constantly promotes images in which women are merely a cluster of body parts, designed to appeal to men’s sexual desire, thus inviting us to view ourselves and other women merely as sex objects.
And I am angry because it is almost impossible for a young girl/teenager/woman to be in public without her appearance being directly remarked on.
“C’mon love, give us a smile!”
“Ooh, sexy legs…”
Statements like that, generally from men in groups, are NOT compliments. They are sexual harassment.
As a woman and a human being, I deserve more respect than that. Everyone does.
Guys, please. Stand up for respect. Say something to one of your mates if he talks like this.
And girls, let’s take some of the focus off our appearances – compliment each other on accomplishments, inner strengths and intelligence, instead of makeup and waist size.
Let’s create a culture that values the content of our character instead of the shape of our bodies.