I can feel him leering at me from behind, and I know that the underhanded comment is right on the tip of his tongue. Because there I am, traipsing around like I always do in some outfit and high heels. It’s something that I do on a daily basis, and I am inured to the slew of male reactions that being a woman in public elicits.
Although, it’s not so much that I’m inured to the reaction as it is that I am indifferent at this point. Yes, I know I look good. Yes, I know you can see me. Yes, I know that you feel entitled to comment on me and who I am as we walk down the same sidewalk on the way to the grocery store.
“Oh, whoa,” one guy says.
“It’s okay, he view’s not bad!” the other one says as I continue to walk ahead of him.
I don’t flinch. Maybe I’ve lost the ability to flinch, or maybe it’s that I realize that flinching is pointless and a waste of my time. But, in all honesty, I think that I stopped flinching because I knew that me flinching is the point of those kinds of comments.
Men don’t say those kind of off handed things to me because they expect me to turn around and rip my clothes off and hop on their dick. The sexualized comment isn’t an attempt at initiating sexual contact. Instead, these small jabs are intended to intimidate me. No, it’s true, there’s no threat of violence in these small comments, but if we examine these comments within the context of a society that oppresses women’s sexuality, that denies its existence or validity, that shames women for being sexual, then the overt expression of a man’s sexuality in the face of a woman intimidates her because it further impresses a woman’s ignorance of her own sexuality in the presence of a man’s fully formed, fully confident sexuality.
But I am not that woman.
I am completely privy to the whims and woes of my sexuality. I know how it works. I know what I like and what I don’t like. Which is why my reaction a man’s offhanded sexualization of me, walking down the street, isn’t a flinch. Neither is it me screaming at him to leave me alone, which, in the new movement against cat calling, seems to be the reaction of choice.
No. Instead, I make the decision in my mind to either keep walking or to look at whoever is talking about me behind my back. If I am not in the mood for a catty sexual discourse, then I keep it moving. I can’t be lured into engaging with men on the topic of my sexuality or my brief sexualization while walking into the grocery store against my will. They may try to initiate, but I shut it down.
However, on some occasions, I turn around. Sometimes I smile. But mostly I want to look at the man who thinks that he has the right to sexualize my existence without my consent. I want to look at the man who views me as a sexual creature, but not because I’m angry. It’s because I’m curious. I’m curious as to what kind of man approaches a woman like me. A stranger. I look at him, and in a moment, I do the same thing back to him. I look him up and down. I play a two second reel of what it must be like to fuck him, and within those short moments I assess whether or not this man would be an adequate sexual partner. I look at the way he dresses and the way he carries himself. I look at his body. I wonder if he works out, because anyone I fuck has to work out in order to keep up with my sexual stamina. And in that moment I know: the man who talks to women like that probably has a small dick and/or is bad in bed. The man who talks to women like that definitely has no game, because any guy with game knows that’s not the way to pick up chicks.
A man has tried to rob me of my sense of security and self by exploiting my sexuality with the swiftness and brevity of a single sexualized comment. That shit doesn’t work on me. Instead, I see him, and I see a man who has been broken by the patriarchal society which should benefit him, but doesn’t, because he will never be good enough to fuck a woman like me. I am too good for him. I am too pretty for him. I am too smart for him. He would never be able to satisfy my voracious sexual appetite. So I look him in the eyes so that he knows this. I look him in the eyes so that he knows that I am not afraid. This little shenanigan didn’t work.
I look him in the eyes, and then I laugh. And he knows that I am laughing at him. Because he is a fucking joke.
Also, I already know my ass looks good. It always looks good. Thanks.