When Women Don’t Own the Road

It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. —Michelle Obama

        It was night and there were not many people around. I was walking home, along a dark road. Some men were whistling and looking at me; complimenting how good my body was. Well, it was not a compliment. A compliment does not make me rethink my route the next time I walk down the street. It is already 2017, but I—and many women in the world—are still fighting for the right to live in a safe world where we can walk down the street without fear of being harassed.

        Irrespective of geographic location, race, age, or appearance, many women say they’ve heard something along the lines of “Hey, baby! Where are you going?” or “How you doing, Sexy?” I have to admit that I get those statements on daily basis, no matter day or night, since I was 12. Yes, 12 years old.  While some people might consider them compliments, others consider them threats. Sadly, those threats that have no name tend to stay hidden and inadequately addressed.

       A nonprofit organization, Stop Street Harassment (SSH) uses “street harassment” to describe gender-based harassment in public spaces. According to SSH, street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions that forced on a stranger in a public place without their consents and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, expression, or sexual orientation. Continue reading