The other day my fellow intern and I were walking to Subway for lunch when we passed a construction site. Not surprisingly, the workers started wolf-whistling and yelling all sorts of clever observations, such as “nice ass!” and “great rack!”
The intern, bless her heart, was horrified. She turned around, glared at the scruffy men, and flipped them the bird. And I? I turned around too. And I just smiled at them.
I recently read Tina Fey’s autobiography (which fyi I totally recommend; it’s both hilarious and insightful). Near the beginning of the book, Tina talks about an exercise done by Rosalind Wiseman, (author of the nonfiction book that Mean Girls was based on) in one of her self esteem seminars. She asked all of the grown women in the seminar to write down the moment where they first “knew they were a woman.” Almost every single woman answered that it was some guy yelling something nasty from a car or a construction site or something. Tina comments that, “There was pretty much zero examples of, ‘I first knew I was a woman when my mother and father took me out for dinner to celebrate my success on the debate team.'”
And yeah, I agree with Tina that it kind of sucks that most women associate some douchebag yelling explicit things at them as the moment they became a woman. But somewhere along the line, I also realized something. Those guys are going to yell junk at me no matter what I do. I suppose I could follow the lead of my dear intern friend and get angry. Or I could take it as a compliment.
So whenever a guy catcalls, I just think to myself: yes, random creepy stranger, I am quite womanly and I do have a nice butt. Thanks for noticing.
And then I smile.