Feline

“No Scrubs” by TLC came out 17 years ago, and boys are still hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me.

In the past three days, I have noticed an upsurge in the frequency at which this phenomenon has been occurring. Whether I be trotting into my apartment from a night out with friends, into the grocery store to buy ingredients that I will attempt to use later in a meal that will certainly not turn out as planned, or simply embarking on a leisurely stroll, dudes with muscle cars feel the need to “holler” at me.

Rap music blaring, base bumping, and the unmistakable vibrato of a young adult male simultaneously make me jump and look over my shoulder on a too-frequent basis.

I shared my frustration with this cat-calling nonsense on Facebook the other day, as mature twenty-somethings do, and was even more annoyed by the responses I received.

The direct status I posted reads:

“Dear men,

Whenever you’re faced with the decision of whether or not to yell “nice ass” out your car window at a human woman, pick no. Every time.”

Sassy, a bit condescending, and moderately funny. My typical flavor.

And also a direct reaction to an experience I had just previously had, late at night, when I was walking from the sidewalk to my apartment, by myself.

One commenter pleaded, “But what if she has a nice ass?”

Great question, sir! And I thank you for asking. If she does indeed have a nice ass, notice! Glance at it as you drive by. We as humans are sexual beings. You can even fantasize about her ass in your mind if you want to! But for goodness sake, do NOT slow your speed, roll down your window, and shout at her when she is in a solitary state in the caliginous night. You will undoubtedly frighten her and leave residual paranoia until the sun rises the next morning.

Another (male) commenter asked, “Can I yell it at guy?”

This is a toughie. I am obviously not a guy, so I don’t feel qualified to offer a legitimate answer to this question. From my perspective, being shouted at, even if it is a “compliment” can be startling, if unexpected. In fact, I have lived my adult life with a tiny pink bottle of mace in my purse, just waiting to be used in the inevitable situation in which I no longer feel safe. But I don’t think guys typically emerge from their homes with a constant fear instilled in them by their parents that they could be assaulted while innocently walking the streets at any time.

Well, white, cisgender, straight guys, anyway.

In sum, I’d say don’t do it, regardless of the sex of the person you are hypothetically “hollering” at, just to stay on the safe side.

And my favorite comment, also made by a dude: “I would be flattered.”

Flattered, you say? In the exact context in which I experienced it? Late, late at night, as a 110-pound woman with next to no muscle mass, no company, and no mechanism of defense? As you’re walking maybe a few yards’ distance from your car to your residence with the intention of coming home and going to bed without being involuntarily degraded, objectified, and sexualized by a stranger driving by in his vehicle? You would be flattered?

“Nice ass!”

Flattered.

I can assure you, being cat-called summons a whirlwind of emotions within my little body, but “flattered” is certainly not one of them.

What do you guys get out of doing this? Is it to impress your buddies in the passenger seat? Is it because you feel like you’ll get something out of it? Get a rise out of us? Get our number? What? WHAT IS IT?

Sigh.

I have been fuming over this for the past few days, and my therapist has advised me to write out my feelings so that I can stop dwelling on them. I’ve done that, taken my Melatonin supplements, and now my nice ass will drift into a dreamy slumber.

Goodnight,

 

M.

 

 

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Flaxen

It was time for a drastic change. I was feeling spontaneous, impulsive. The appointment had been set-no turning back now. My mind had been made. 

It was the concluding day of my employment at big girl job #1. Yes, the one in which I was the only female member. 

The boss man asked me to have a seat in his office while I turned in my keys, etc. back to the company. In effort to break the awkward air that my voluntary resignation had brought, he asked me timidly, “Well, what are you going to do with the rest of your day?”

“I think i’m going to dye my hair,” I shared, a little less bashfully. 

“…. But, men love blondes. It’s scientifically proven!” 

A direct quote from my former boss, I kid thee not. 

A zillion and a half feministic and attitude-slathered, raging responses raced through my mind. 

Silly me, though, I had forgotten that I wear my hair for the sole purpose of gaining male approval. I hadn’t considered the fact that i’d lose my allure in the eyes of most men. That my body is here only to be objectified and either accepted or deemed “undesirable” by the men I encounter.

After all, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 

Not to be frank, but I DON’T CARE WHAT COLOR OF HAIR YOU’D PREFER TO SPROUT OUT OF MY HEAD, MISTER. *slams office door dramatically and stomps out, heels clanking harshly against the floor*

No, I didn’t yell. But the feminist in me was screaming, punching, and kicking- throwing a tantrum that would put all four-year-olds to shame.

It is sickening that men assume that women alter their appearance for the sole purpose of gaining approval and acceptance from them. And perhaps they are right, in some cases. However, they could not be more wrong in mine.

You see, I don’t care if you like blondes more than brunettes. Or redheads more than both combined. Bleach your own freaking head for all I care. Your opinion is of no significance to me. Admittedly, I hunger for approval and visual appeal from my peers. We all do. But I will do with my hair whatever I please, regardless of what any man thinks. IT IS MY HAIR, thank you. And you can stick your preferences where the sun don’t shine.

Before: 

blondie

After: 

Photo on 7-31-14 at 7.05 PM #2

In my opinion, and the only one that matters in this scenario, darker hair makes me look more lively. I like it. 

I am now a half-blonde. And for the record, half-blondes have more fun.(; 

M. 

That’s Hot.

MEN: This may come as a surprise, but I just thought i’d casually bring to your attention that NOT EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE IS INTENDED TO PLEASE YOU.

Ready for my real-life example?

The other day, I was discussing my career plans with a man friend. I told him I was considering a career in English teaching or journalism, to which he bluntly responded, “That’s hot.”

Umm, okay?

What’s hot about my aspiration to become an English professor? Or a newspaper journalist? Is that some kind of joke? Or do people really have fetishes for those with a fondness for language arts?

This sort of makes me feel as though my man friend wasn’t taking my career plan seriously.

If this conversation had been an intelligent, two-sided conversation in which both participants were genuinely interested in what one participant was expressing, it would have gone a little more like this:

Me: “I’m thinking I want to be an English professor.”

Man friend: “Oh, really? What made you decide that career path?”

Me: “Well, I love to write and learn about literature, and I think it’d be a fun, challenging career to teach students how to write.”

Man friend: “Well that sounds like a great choice for you, then!”

And then it could continue in the same manner.

But, this was indeed not a two-sided conversation in which both participants were genuinely interested in what one participant was expressing. It was a boy belittling a woman’s intelligence and ambition.

I wasn’t trying to be hot. I was trying to answer his inquiry of what I would like to become when I grow up. Did it ever occur to him that maybe it isn’t my constant goal to impress him and gain his approval when we talk? That maybe I was trying to have a person-to-person conversation and express what my aspirations were?

It all comes back to shallow, physical attraction, doesn’t it?

Because Heaven forbid some guy would actually want to know what my passions and interests were, just for the sake of getting to know me better.

Another lad and I were having a similar discussion earlier today. In an effort to flatter me, he asked if i’d ever considered modeling as a career. I told him that I hadn’t because I do not advocate the fashion industry and media’s glorification of physical beauty and skinny-ness.

His response? “Well, maybe you could try acting then?”

Arg. Another point completely missed.

He thinks I have the looks to be displayed and manipulated in the media as an icon of what “ideal beauty” is. Which, frankly, I don’t take as a compliment at all. He hadn’t even considered the possibility that maybe I had no interest in a career in the media.

This is just a prime example of the objectification of women. The belief that my physical beauty should be used as a commodity to promote and sell physical items, as well as a skewed and artificial icon of what a beautiful woman is.

There is way more to a woman than her physical appearance. I have far more to offer than my looks, thank you. And I intend to pursue a career that suits my interests and puts my intellectuality to good use.

M.