So I was thinking about how walking down the street can be quite the arduous task. I travel all over Chicago/the Chicagoland area via public transportation, so my commute includes a generous amount of walking. But, the struggle isn’t because of distance. It has nothing to do with the shape I’m in. The chalkenge of my walk isn’t due to weather or the type of shoes I wear. It’s just that I’m always greeted with a certain level of anxiety when it’s time to leave my house. This happens especially when the weather starts to break. I know you’re probably thinking the difficulty is caused by the fear of violence in my city or the safety of my neighborhood. I DO live in the hood, however, that ain’t quite it either. Once the sun starts shining, the weather starts warming up, and layers begin to disappear, more people are outside, and as a woman, I can’t walk down the street without men in vehicles beeping their horns or yelling out their windows. I’m not even exaggerating and it isn’t flattering, it’s irritating.
Many times, as I pass by guys on the block or those walking toward me/behind me or when I see the working fellas outside or stand with the bros waiting on the bus/train, I’m met with all sorts of x-ray vision type stares, hey babies, what’s up sweethearts, and other catcalls. When a guy speaks to me, very seldom is it to be courteous or neighborly. Their words may seem polite, but they’re accompanied by sleazy glances and elevator eyes. When I’m approached in these ways, I don’t even want to speak...not only that, but sometimes I’m just in a hurry or in a zone, but I know that I must snap out of whatever apprehension/rush/trance I’m in, plaster on a smile, and have just the right inflection in my voice when I say hi. Why? Because as a teen I learned it was in my best interest to always speak when spoken to, whether I wanted to or not. At that age, I had boys call me ugly or a b***h or say that I was bougie when I wouldn’t respond to their advances. As I grew to be a young adult, I thought “men” would be different, but it was more of the same. There was never any physical assault, but because of the level of aggression I’ve experienced at times, I try to make sure I always grin and speak, because I just never know.
I share some of these scenarios on social media, many times making light of it, but it really isn’t funny. Like the one time I was speed walking, trying to catch my train, at the same time talking on the phone, and I pass by this man who says something that’s unclear. But, when I don’t respond he YELLS out: Well f**k you too, B***h! Then there’s the time someone looked me up and down and told me all the gangbangers must like me because I have a nice personality and I’m pleasingly plump.
Having to deal with this is frustrating, disheartening, and upsetting. It’s so unfair that I can’t mind my own business and get to my destination without being harassed in some way. Please, why can’t you let me walk on by??