Don't say "beautiful", when you mean "woman"10:00 AM
I was walking my way to a café near home to meet a friend. I wouldn't say is very significant (and you'll know why later) to say that it was a sunny Tuesday morning, with lots of people walking their dogs and picking their groceries at the corner shop. I was wearing a super comfortable outfit consisting on a pair of wool culottes with my knee-length boots and coat, and the lightest makeup, as we were just meeting for a brief snack-recap in our lives as she was heading to work later on and I had chores to do.
I was in a hurry. I've tend to be late everywhere I go lately. I was listening to music and walking quickly but confidently. And suddenly, it happened. I don't know why (I presume it was because sadly, I've been on that spot other times) but I knew that the man walking in my direction was going to say something "lovely" to me. I knew it from his looks at me. From his attitude. Because, as I said, it has happened to me countless times before. Just because I'm what might look as a "docile, defenseless" woman. And will happen again if we keep our heads down every time ANYONE, no matter sex, age or time of the day feels the "right" to call a woman "beauty" with a disgusting grin while scanning me with a thirsty look. Just because I'm walking at the street freely. Just because I'm a woman. Just because I'm using the public space as anyone would do.
The thing I did next even surprised me, but I've never felt more empowered. In a matter of seconds after his "nice" words after walking by my side, my middle finger just came out of my right pocket. As that. In front of his face, while I kept walking with my head up. He wasn't being nice. I didn't ask for his compliment. Now, I wasn't the one to be ashamed.
I don't regret it and I assure you, I'll repeat my action if I'm involved in this kind of situation again. What he did to me is called "public harassment", and I wasn't aware of this until this past year.
Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
I consider myself as a "bad feminist" as Madonna said or herself on her Billboard speech. I might not be the best at decoding misogynist behaviours; I might be doing wrong by some comments I make sometimes, I even might be limiting myself from wearing some things I would want to wear just because I might receive unpleasant looks. This time, I felt empowered. And that's why I wanted to share this with all of you. I won't let anyone restrict my right to walk freely at the street any day, anywhere just because I'm a young woman. Compliments and flattering words come from your relatives, friends and loved ones. The rest, is street harassment.