Unwarranted derogatory comments, leering glances, and inappropriate gestures are acts all too familiar for women in 2017. Catcalling, regardless of the choice of words or actions, is demeaning, disrespectful, and fosters an environment of fear for women. In light of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, it should come as no surprise that sexual misconduct against women runs rampant, regardless of the degree. While catcalling pales in comparison to the appalling acts Mr. Weinstein committed, it is still an act of sexual assault and it should not go unrecognized.
This morning, I received a text from a colleague saying the following:
This friend is not the first, nor will be the last woman to receive this kind of vile attention. No matter who you are, as a woman, there is no reason you should be subjected to mistreatment just for walking down a certain street or taking a certain line on the subway. Those words and glances singlehandedly steal our ownership of our bodies, our confidence and our self-worth. Each unsavory or disrespectful gesture chips away at women’s feelings of security and value, yet it happens so frequently we hardly bat an eye, when we absolutely should.
If Harvey Weinstein has taught us anything, we need to act and speak up against mistreatment, because change will not happen unless we make it happen. I’m sure many of you have noticed a trend peppered throughout your social media feeds over the past week: “Me too.” By including this simple phrase in social posts, women across the country are sharing their own experience with sexual assault. As of Monday, Twitter had reported the hashtag #MeToo had been used over half a million times--a number that as heartbreaking as it is, is quite unsurprising. This number represents your daughters, sisters and mothers who have been brave enough to share their stories in an effort to change this narrative. And maybe, just maybe, this number may finally facilitate change.
Women and girls, you don’t deserve to be disrespected because of the gender you were born into, or the way you are built, and certainly not because of the sundress you chose to wear because of the summer weather. Remember that you are worthy of respect, and don’t let anyone silence you into believing otherwise.