I can't remember the last time I was "Hey Baby'd" other than by my husband, usually followed up with, "Are we out of coffee?"
No one whistles, or yells, or tells me to smile. One of the best aspects of getting older is that the instances of street harassment and general intrusiveness from men diminishes year by year as fast as the elasticity of my skin. That's not to say I never get the leering gaze or the inappropriate question directed at me after a few-too-many-glasses-of-wine at a party, but for the most part, my age and everything that has contributed to the downfall of my youthful glow has sort of rendered me invisible when it comes to everyday instances of street harassment. And I looooove it.
I know some women mourn the lack of attention they receive when they are simply walking down the street. But for me, catcalling never felt like a compliment or a stamp of approval on my attractiveness or femininity. It felt like a threat, a violation, or at the very least, like an insistent call from a telemarketer when I was just sitting down to enjoy dinner with my family. It never made me feel sexy or hot or wanted, it made me feel frightened and ashamed. Plus, I already knew my ass was big, thank you.
I think I was first catcalled when I was 10. I can remember being catcalled when I was 24 and walking down the street pushing my infant son in a stroller. I've been catcalled when I've had the flu, catcalled when I'm not wearing any makeup, catcalled when I'm hot and sweaty and wearing a dirty, saggy T-shirt to work out in. This is what women deal with on a daily basis. My story isn't new. But now that I'm older it hits me how awful it really was. If I never hear another man tell me from his passing car what he wants to do with my 46-year-old body, that is fine with me.
You may think I doth protest too much, that part of me secretly misses being complimented on my clothing or my walk or my breasts when I make my way from the grocery store parking lot to the sliding doors, but I really don't. It was never those yells and whistles that did it for me. Those never enhanced my self-esteem. They made me feel smaller and less-than. They made me walk faster, duck my head down and curse myself for the length of my skirt, when In reality I knew I should be able to wear whatever the hell I wanted without worrying about being yelled at. Not that skirt-length matters anyway, since women get catcalled wearing sweatpants.
I worry about my daughter having to deal with this. I tell my sons how garbage-y it is to do this. I read all the horror stories of this happening to other women and the only consolation is this: One day it stops. One day you will be able to go about your business with no one interrupting it to tell you they like your body and what they want to do with it. No one yells at you and tells you to smile. And it's pretty much the best day ever.