I was walking down the street the other day when, as usual, some guy shouted out, “Hey, you’re beautiful!” This isn’t an uncommon experience in these parts. But, I, feeling bolder than usual, shouted back, “Hey, you’re beautiful, too!” He laughed as I walked into the liquor store.
When I came out, there he was again. I could tell he wanted to talk to me, which, of course, I braced myself for. Dudes on the street love it when you sass them back, and sometimes that’s an invitation for more conversation. But I was pleasantly surprised when he said, “Hey, it made my day when you told me I was beautiful. Say it again!”
“You’re beautiful!” I cried out as I walked past him. I think we both smiled in our own way.
I wish it were that simple. Wouldn’t that be nice – what if men approached women because all they wanted was validation, and if you gave it to them with as little effort as possible, that would make them happy? I would go around telling men they’re beautiful all day if it meant that I wouldn’t have to worry about things such as, oh, you know, getting my ass grabbed, being followed around, getting hit on in a gross way by my boss, getting equal pay, not being afraid of being roofied at the bar.
Men, is that what you want? Because I will give it to you. In fact, I’ll do it right now. You are beautiful. Did that solve everything for you? Are you feeling better now? Can you stop harassing me and focus on building your own internal strength and having self respect? Please?
Of course, later that day, some guy said what’s up to me, and I, feeling optimistic about my general relationship with the men of the world, did the “what’s up” back to him. As I was walking past him, he said, “Hey, what’s your name?”
This immediately soured me to the entire idea of men being inherently good and in need of simple validation, so I had to sass back with my usual, “I don’t have a name.” That one always confuses them. I’ve actually gotten into pretty long conversations with men after I drop that line. I always have to explain to them that my parents forgot to give me a name. It’s pretty fucking funny.
So, if I can’t cure street harassment by complimenting men back, I guess all I can do is attempt to humiliate them in public. What a sport.