A change.

Dear readers,
Today as I was cycling I got whistled at. Wolf whistled. And as I cycled along the towpath I passed a man, as I did he said loudly at me: "You've got a lovely bum" . . . then he obviously felt all bolstered by vocalising his swarthy male sexuality because he said again loudly "YOU'VE GOT A LOVELY BUM". If he hadn't chosen to shout it this second time he might have heard a faint 'pah-twang!' as something deep inside me snapped.
I've really had enough of strangers feeling they can comment on how I look. It's rude, isn't it? I don't think that's hard to see. And it makes me sad because comments like that only ever come from a place of deep insecurity. Anyone who makes lewd comments at a stranger is just using that person as a crutch for their limping sexuality. And I've had enough.
I don't what it means or where it's going to go but that small snapping sound is a change, I'm not going to put my head down and cycle on anymore. I have a horrible feeling that I'm going to have to talk to these people. It's going to be exhausting and scary but I've really had enough of living in a place where that kind of thing happens.
Today I read this article in the Guardian and heard about the #harcelementderue hashtag on Twitter and found the hollaback site. Please share these sites, it's such an important cause, it's something you can control on a daily basis that could have much wider effects. Have a look and a read and next time you find it happening do something about it; not as a woman or a man or an inbetweeny - just as a decent person.


  1. yes! i totally agree with this. seeing this at the barbican confirmed my absolute love for laurie anderson ---> http://bodytracks.org/2009/06/laurie-anderson-fully-automated-nikon-objectobjectionobjectivity/

  2. It is such an importan cause indeed. This is why I started training Feminist self defence, to learn how to defend myself against this. I have always been a magnet for this sort of commenting and very often left me feeling disgusted and felt I really needed tools to handle these situations. And that is what I have now. from feminist self defence. where we practise mental, verbal and physical self defence.

  3. I agree too! I was used to comments and wolf whistles from bored men in London, but 7 years ago I moved to Berlin and experienced something quite different. No yelling and whistling, instead 3 times in the space of a couple of months I had my bum grabbed in the street (really grabbed - one guy wouldn't let go!). The first time I was in mens jeans covered in paint and walking with a heavily pregnant friend. The third time it happened I snapped. I didn't even realise I was doing it, but suddenly I was chasing this guy down the road, screaming at him, everything under the sun, a torrent of 4 letter words, with the determination to catch him and grab him by the bollocks. I didn't catch him (thank goodness) but he was terrified. He kept looking back at me in horror and I was sure he would never again touch a women without definite permission.
    That was about 5 years ago and nothing similar has happened since. I think the change in me must have been visible and from that day on these guys knew they wouldn't get away with touching me.

  4. Oh I'm so glad you folks commented! The internet is so valuable for this sort of thing - pooling resources. I love the Laurie Anderson link (those little indiscretions made public since 1973, so brilliant) and I'm so happy to hear about Feminist self defence. And Gemma I love your story, hilarious! I applaud all of you, I really do.
    There is something about the snapping point that makes you suddenly incredibly confident. . . and just a little bit nuts. I'm so mentally ready for the challenge of the defence now I'm sure I'm probably never going to get shouted at again.
    Having my appearance pointed out in any way is just such a disruption to my daily life: personally I cycle and walk about in a stupor of my own thoughts completely forgetting what I look like, sometimes even a genuine compliment on how I look from a friend really disrupts my sense of self - let alone some knob of a person trying to press their 'personality' on me.