Dog Walking

It’s not easy to talk about feminism calmly. I can feel my heart beating a little faster as various flashbacks flicker through my head of both the progresses that have been made and those all too frequent reminders that make it so difficult to believe that change is possible.

The internet has had a lot to say on the subject: Emma Watson’s UN He for She speech, the woman who was cat-called 100 times in a 10 hour day, and Taylor Swift’s very public growth into identifying as a feminist for starters. And then there are all of the comments on these things, all of the opinions that cover every range of response from support to ridicule and even threats. It’s a lot to take in as a big picture but it becomes even more difficult when you begin finding it in your own life.

This post was sparked by an encounter I had today walking my dog. Six, SIX, separate individuals driving SIX separate cars at SIX different times within a 15 minute walk found it not only necessary, but acceptable, to honk at me while they drove past. Being a woman who likes to walk outside, I’m used to this sort of behavior and I don’t jump when it happens anymore. Can you imagine having been harassed so many times that you no longer have an instinctual response to be startled when someone blares their horn at you? This isn’t okay.

I know that this is tame, an inconvenience at most when you look at the more overt harassment millions of individuals face daily but that does not make it alright.

The New York Times posted an article last week about a man responsible for following up on all of the mean things people say on Facebook. He has found that in 98% of cases, these comments were not meant to be insulting. They were an escalation stemming from a misunderstanding. With that guide in mind, that often things are simply a misunderstanding, please let me explain to you how I see harassment in the case of someone honking their horn at me.

It’s not a compliment. Let me say it again, it’s NOT a compliment to me that your way of trying to get my attention is honking at me. I’m not an animal. You don’t get to call me over with some arbitrary sound because you feel like it. You don’t deserve my attention just because you think you do. Plus it scares my dog. Stop it.

It is that big of a deal. to me. And in my world, that is the main opinion that matters. If something you are doing makes me uncomfortable I am going to speak up about it. You don’t get to decide what makes me tick. It may not upset you, you may see it as a positive,  but don’t you dare tell me what I am supposed to think or how I am supposed to feel.

Lastly, just because you don’t mean to be offensive doesn’t mean you aren’t being offensive. Think it through, be kind to other human beings. Why do you think that it’s okay to honk? What are you trying to tell me?Just because I am out living my life in the same world you happen to live in does not mean that you get to make up the rules. We all get to make our own rules, don’t be offended that I’m not willing to play by yours.

I want to hear what you have to say. I want to know why you think this is or isn’t okay. Human rights are important. For everyone. And I would like mine to be respected.

 

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