By Rene Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
Most women that walk around the city by themselves tend to get cat-calls from men, and most of these women just deal with it because they have been conditioned to think that this behavior is tolerable, and that dealing with it is just part of their daily routine and lives, but that does not have to be the case— not anymore.
Women can actually empower themselves to stop these men by telling them why they do not appreciate being harassed on the street by complete strangers, and explain to these men or even other women sometimes that being harassed for simply being a woman walking down the street makes them uncomfortable.
Some women and even men at times actually do appreciate this type of courting, and maybe they get some kind of validation out of people complimenting them on the streets, but most women actually find it majorly offensive, and are even sometimes treated like or called prostitutes just because they are trying to get from point A to point B.
And if you think that it ends there with cat-calling you are dead wrong, because this type of behavior can take a turn for the worse in a matter of seconds and scar a woman for the rest of her life.
Some also may think that cat-calling at women is harmless, but it can progress into groping or even rape in some cases, and that type of behavior is not exclusive to places such as India or Egypt where sexual assault is rampant.
Sexual harassment and assault happens right here in Albuquerque every day and needs to be stopped, not only by the women it happens to, but also the men who portray and perpetuate this type of behavior.
An example of this is when someone I know was walking down Columbia Drive SE just a few blocks east of CNM’s main campus a couple of years ago, and she had her headphones on while commuting to work on a sunny afternoon.
She saw a man trying to get her attention, and she just passed him by; ignoring his advances as many women are forced to do, but then this man thought it was okay to sneak up on her and sexually assault her.
He came up behind her to grope at all of her private parts before she even had a chance to realize what was going on, or to react to the situation, and then he just ran away like a coward.
The women ran after him screaming and yelling in shock that someone would do this to her in the light of day, and she lost sight of him after he turned past a wall into an alleyway.
But she then realized that he entered an apartment building only a few feet away from where she lives.
She called the police and made a report, and of course nothing came from it, so from that point on she was afraid to walk down her own street for fear of being sexually assaulted once again by this man.
She started walking a different path and even feared leaving her own home at times but was then utterly relieved when she could finally be able to afford a car, so she would not have to be approached by strange men or fear being assaulted while attempting to get to work.
A woman should never have to be relieved at the thought that she does not have to walk down her own street because she fears what might happen.
This was not the first time in this women’s life that something like this had happened to her, nor was it the last.
The reason I know this is because all of this happened to me, and in fact, sexual assault happens to women on a daily basis without any provocation what so ever.
It does not matter what I was wearing, (which was a pair of sweats and a T-shirt) or what I looked like that day.
This assault happened to me solely because I am a woman who was walking down the street alone.
Now, when men cat-call or stare at me like a piece of meat, I call them out on it now; not only for myself, but for the women that they might take it too far with in the future.
Most women want these types of men to realize how alarming, terrifying, infuriating or even annoying it can be to have a complete stranger come up to them and harass them merely because of their appearance.
This type of behavior is unacceptable— plain and simple, and men as well as some women need to become educated that most women hate to be troubled this way and deserve to be able to walk down the street without fear of being harassed or assaulted.
Cat calling, whistling, or gawking perversely at women will not change, that is unless all of us take the time to call out people who act this way toward women, and to help change this behavior at its source.
So women, I urge you to speak up when you are forced to feel uncomfortable by cat calls or perverted stares, and let these types of men know that it is not okay to treat you with such disrespect, because all women deserve better than this type of behavior.
And to the men who are guilty of cat-calling, whistling or staring at women with a gross and perverted look written all over their faces, I urge them to have more respect for the women around them, and don’t be that guy, because, really, nobody likes that guy.