Dear guy driving in the Office Depot parking lot. This post is for you.

Dear guy driving in the Office Depot parking lot. This post is for you.

This is a hard post to write. I have spent so many hours agonizing over this, trying to decide if this is being too vulnerable on the internet. People are this vulnerable all the time, however I am not. I like to keep things very surface level. Keeps me from getting hurt. My Simple Life is about my life but up until this point hasn’t gotten into the hard stuff. The hurt and the pain of life that we all know is there hasn’t shown its face. Until now.

It has happened more times than I care to count. In the car (as a driver and as a passenger), while I walking through the Macy’s Men’s department shopping for my husband (who wasn’t with me at the time). It has happened while walking down the street minding my own business, in former places of employment and most recently while getting out of my car and walking into Office Depot.

I am talking about being cat called.

You may think “what’s the big deal?” Or “it happens to every girl” and you know what, you are not alone in those thoughts. Up until very recently, I thought those things too and if I am not careful I still think that way. The struggle is real.

In the wake of the #metoo movement and all of the stories that have come out from Harvey Weinstein to Larry Nassar, cat calling may not seem like a huge deal. On the scale of sexual harassment and sexual abuse, cat calling maybe be really low, but let’s realize something here, it is still on the scale.

When I get cat called, immediately two things happen. (Now I may get shit for saying this but here it goes.) First, I get this odd rush of happiness. Like somehow me being cat called is validation for the way I look. And I like that. I am vain and self centered and shallow. I want people to be attracted to me and when I get cat called I feel attractive and wanted. I feel validated and worthy. 

Immediately following however, my rational brain kicks in. I want to turn in the direction it came from and yell “Fuck you! You’re an asshole!” And other times I think “Sarah, come up with a witty comment that will embarrass him...come on Sarah you can do it.” But nothing comes out. Instead, I keep walking and act like it didn’t happen. I walk away feeling gross and ashamed, like all I want to do is wear a shapeless potato sack for the rest of my life. I accept what happens as my reality and that I can’t do anything about it.

But there is a problem with that logic. Just because it happens, doesn’t mean it should happen. When I say and do nothing, all I am telling the other person is, “that behavior is acceptable.” Me not saying anything speaks just as loud, if not louder.

Is it his fault though? Does he know better? I feel like he must...but does he? I am sure I get looks and stares that I don’t know about, but what possesses a person to be so overcome that a whistle or call just has to be let out? I understand there are cultural differences and that we live in a melting pot but this gentlemen was clearly not from any of the cultures where that behavior is considered acceptable. What does he think will happen? Does he think the outcome is going to be a positive one for him? Is he doing it because I somehow fit into the world’s standard of beauty or does he actually think I am attractive? Would he still cat call me if I looked the exact same, wore the exact same jeans and sweater but he knew that I hadn’t shaved my legs or armpits in 6 months? How about if I looked the exact same but had a kid on my hip? Does he know how it makes me feel?

Something needs to change. This can’t be allowed to happen anymore. I am not saying that all men act this way, because they definitely do not. I would venture to say that most men are respectful and at least keep their thoughts and comments towards women who are total strangers to themselves. Unfortunately though gentlemen, a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough and it is the rude ones who stand out the most.

I am 30 years old. I purposely choose clothing that is trendy and fashionable but modest. I know what is flattering and what is not and choose clothing accordingly. But let’s be clear. By wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I am not “asking for it” and short of making my own clothing (which I have totally tried and failed at miserably) I am not sure what else I can do. I have approximately ZERO influence on what types of clothing stores carry and I can’t change how I look, trust me I have tried.

So guy in the Office Depot parking lot, I don’t know your background or how you grew up. I don’t know if cat calling has worked for you in the past or not. Maybe you are compensating for something, but I don’t think it is too much to ask that sexually derived comments and whistles from total strangers, like yourself, not be a part of my life anymore.