Appropriate response to cat calls.
I still think about this episode of those old-ish batman cartoons. It was crucial to pre-teen Dith’s formation.
Last night a friend and I witnessed a pretty blatant and disturbing situation in which a car full of men were hanging out of their window staring at a woman walking by. Edmonton, I maintain that this objectification (and sometimes outright harassment) of women is something I have never experienced or witnessed to the same degree in any other Canadian city. In fact, I’ve never seen it in my time in the UK, either. What is it about our city that we have to put up with this? Male friends have also experienced harassment — slurs and threats yelled from the windows of passing cars and trucks. It makes walking through the city threatening. It subjugates us as women and also as pedestrians or people who cannot afford to drive or have chosen not to. As a cyclist I experienced several situations in which a vehicle full of dude-bros (clearly drunk) tried to run me off the road (once a truck actually chased me around Laurier in the middle of the night. I had to hide in someone’s alley driveway to get away). There’s a mix of sexism in these situations and also classism — if you are a woman or you choose not to participate in the culture of cars, you are fair game as an object of ridicule and harassment or even chase. This is unacceptable, and I’d like to see us take this conversation more seriously. It’s bad enough that there have been multiple unsolved rapes on the south side, or that the police response was simply to ‘lock your doors and windows’. How about a freaking conversation about the culture that fosters and encourages the objectification and harassment (and assault) of women in our city?
People of Edmonton who choose to harass (or straight-up assault) fellow citizens: you suck. You rob us of the dignity and safety we all deserve.
If another car full of dude-bros yells obscene things at me (or threatens my safety), I swear I’m going to have an Indigenous feminist meltdown. And call the cops (and if they don’t take it seriously I’ll mobilize other ways to initiate this conversation). Because a dude yelling sexual slurs at you from his car is something a city should be without. And it’s about damn time we took responsibility for the fact that this behaviour is worse in Edmonton than many other parts of Canada. I don’t know what the roots of this situation are, but I want my future daughters to live without this harassment.
I couldn’t put it better myself. When I went on vacation away from Edmonton for a week it was such a relief not to have to deal with this kind of behavior.