Jordyn Bernicke, age 23

Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Choke on Your Cat Call”

Since elementary school, when boys would smack my ass playing touch football on the playground, I have learned to recognize when I am being objectified. Walking to school as a college student I would hear aggressive whistles and moans and be back on the playground again. While working as a hostess , I smiled through the unwanted advances and touches of male management, even though I was filled with a familiar anxiety.

Through each cat-call I want to stand up for myself. Maybe roll my eyes or flip off the stranger who’s commented on my body. But I simply ignore them because I am so nervous, scared and pressured by society to be submissive. I hear all of the times my mother told me to be careful replaying in my head and worry that if I defend myself it will escalate the situation. I feel pressured to be nice, as if standing up for myself makes me a bitch.

So there I am in the middle of the street giving slight smiles to the creeps that yell “nice ass” from their shitty car windows, and whistle at me as I walk by. Afterward I am constantly looking over my shoulder, or in the reflective storefront windows to make sure that I am not being followed. When I reach the safety of my car I replay the experiences in my mind and I am disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed for giving him the slightest response.

Being a woman is a wonderful gift that I would never want to change but it is unfair that we are given a set of rules to follow. Why are we the ones that have be careful? You don’t hear women yelling and making remarks about how sweet a guys ass is as they walk down the street. We understand what it’s like to be objectified and the self-consciousness that results from it. It is honestly not a way to live.

I have found myself taking different routes to school and work because I have been followed before and I am afraid. During everyday normal tasks women should not have to look over their shoulders. We should not wake up and dread living our lives because we fear for our safety around men.

In one specific instance, I was walking to my car from school and recognized a local creep who has been known for public masterbation. I contemplated crossing the street to avoid him, but decided not to in fear of hurting his feelings. When we crossed paths he lunged, trying to grab me as I walked by. I jumped into the street dodging his hands and ran to my car. I began to feel bad, thinking maybe it was too harsh and that I have offended him. Thoughts like “maybe it’s my fault for wearing shorts,” ran through my mind.

(record scratch) WTF NO!

It was over 100 degrees, wearing shorts is normal. Who cares if I offended him, he literally made my heart drop. In that moment, unfortunately, I don’t think this way at all. It’s not until after I go home or talk about it with some girlfriends that I realize I am not in the wrong. But it doesn’t matter. I still obsess over the incident feeling guilty. It affects my whole day, week, and perhaps self, but this creep probably didn’t think twice about it. The sense of control men gain over women by catcalling is disgusting, and to that I say, You Can Choke on Your Fucking Cat Call.