by Shreya Shrestha
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me why girls get upset when guys comment on their bodies. I tried explaining but I think I confused him more. I have a better explanation now.
The first time I noticed a guy looking at me and more specifically my legs was when I was about 16 years old and he was much older than me maybe in his late 20s. There was no way anyone would have mistaken me for an adult. To that guy it did not matter who I was or even how old I was. To him I was a set of legs to gawk at, not a person and certainly not a child.
My experience is very common. Girls start getting unwanted attention at an early age and it happens for the rest of our lives. Boys catcall us on the streets, they purposely try to come and touch and feel you. They yell things at us and try to invade our personal space in the streets, in vehicles, and where ever possible. They come sit next to us in public vehicles even though there are many empty seats available. They try to look up our skirts when we sit down. They don’t listen when we decline them.
We see reports of girls getting raped on their way home, another girl whose body was found in a ditch. We are told not to go outside alone, not to stay out late. We are constantly told that even your friends can hurt you if they are drunk because they are men. We are told not to talk to anyone we don’t know. We are told to use our keys as weapons and not to go in crowded places for we might be groped and made uncomfortable. We are told to always be on guard and on a look out because these things might happen anywhere and at anytime.
Imagine hearing this since a young age. Imagine being told that men are more likely to hurt you than women. Imagine one of the people you regard as a threat to your body now wants your body. If he really does you will have a hard time stopping him and people will objectify you for ‘letting him’ to hurt you. Imagine being blamed for something that has happened to you and affects you. They will ask you why didn’t you did more to protect yourself or why you wore such clothes or who asked you to walk around at night alone.
I am not saying all men are awful, but there are a number of men who are. They make us uncomfortable and unsafe in our normal lives. We cannot distinguish between a decent man and a potential rapist just by looking.
Girls get upset when boys comment on our bodies because we are objects and treated like source of pleasure, not people. We are angry because we can’t go on with our lives without the fear of sexual predation. We get scared because when it comes down to it we will eventually be blamed for his mistakes.
Girls get upset because we would much rather be seen as people, not just bodies.
This blog was first published at https://youthactivistsleadershipcouncil.wordpress.com/