A letter to all the cat-callers in Selly
Yes I know I have boobs, they’re on MY chest
This morning was like any other morning. I woke up at 7am, had some breakfast, replied to emails and got dressed for my run. Spring is finally here, but it’s still a bit arctic. I decided to wear my running tights and a thermal top, because any exposed skin is fair game for frost bite, right?
With my flesh sufficiently covered for the weather, I set out at 8am on the usual 5k route. This particular route can prove a bit problematic, as there’s a lot of waiting around at traffic lights, breaking the momentum of my run and making me a prime target for drive-by-catcallers.
As I predicted, today was like any other day. Before I’d even run one kilometre, I’d attracted more male attention than I ever have whilst all dressed up on a night out.
As I waited for the first set of traffic lights to change, three lorry drivers beeped their horns at me and stared out of their windows. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable, but looked at my feet and didn’t acknowledge them, hoping that if I didn’t react they’d go away.
Unfortunately my plan didn’t work. One of them wound their window down and shouted something inaudible at me, but the lights soon changed to green and he sped off in the stream of traffic. I usually don’t let these encounters bother me, they’re distracting at best but it’s easier to ignore with my music up loud and my hater blockers on. I’m sure all women encounter this, right?
I got the green light to cross over and started my ascent up a large hill. This is where things became hard to ignore. A man to my right waiting for the traffic lights to change beeped his horn at me. As this had already happened three times in the last five minutes, it was becoming background noise, so I ignored it and carried on dying up the hill. The man wound his window down and began to shout something, not letting up. I stopped and took my headphones out, as his desperation made me assume that he might be in trouble.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear”, I shouted.
“Oh my God, your tits are fucking massive”, he shouted back.
This is where I snapped. I like to consider myself quite a tolerant individual, but there’s only so much a girl can take. I gave him the finger whilst shouting back “Yeah I know, they’re on my fucking chest”.
I put my headphones back in and carried on up the hill, when suddenly the man in the car was right by my side with his window down, and he was angry. He had turned his car around especially to come and shout abuse at me from a closer distance. I ignored him, turned my music up and continued on, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit scared. The only people around to witness this were some builders. By no means do I want to stereotype all builders, but in this particular case, they witnessed exactly what was going on, and instead of asking me if I was alright or helping out by telling the man to leave me alone, they stood as bystanders and laughed.
Eventually the man in the car gave up and drove off. He had the last word, shouting “I was just trying to give you a fucking compliment.” Let me spell it out to all the perverts who think it’s acceptable to catcall women going about their everyday business. Shouting comments about a woman’s physical appearance from your car window is not a “compliment”. It isn’t brave or funny, it isn’t flattering or appreciated. It’s disgusting and offensive and we’d rather you didn’t.
Beeping your horn to get my attention is equally as perplexing. You beep the horn, I look up at you…and then what? Do you get off on the acknowledgement of a stranger standing on the side of the pavement? If that’s the case, I suggest you get some psychological help. I had every visible inch of my skin covered, so I can’t possibly imagine what was so eye-catching about my appearance that it compelled you to wind your window down and shout out to me. But let me make this clear, even if I didn’t have as much skin covered as I did, a woman’s choice of clothing is not an invitation for you to voice your repulsive opinions.
Running is a hobby that I took up to take back the control of my body. I refuse to have it ruined by ignorant perverts like you, on a feeble misogynist power trip. You should also know, when I set out that morning I hadn’t showered, covered the spot on my chin or changed my underwear, so do you still think I’m sexy? Didn’t think so.