This woman's viral letter perfectly captures why catcalling is a real problem
Sadly, too many women around the world have experienced the piercing fear and dehumanizing cruelty that goes hand-in-hand with being catcalled by a pack of men when you’re alone on the street. That’s exactly why Jenny Stanley’s harrowing experience has been going totally viral — it resonates with thousands of women all over the world.
In a letter to The Irish Times entitled “Verbal abuse of women in public,” Jenny bravely recounted her experience with a particularly frightening group of men when she was walking on the streets of Dublin on Saturday night. “. . .I can find no word more suitable to describe these groups than ‘packs’, based on their behaviour towards me, one another and other members of the public,” she wrote. “As I stood at my bus stop, the wolf whistles, comments on my physical appearance and ‘hellos’ loaded with intention began. . .”
Jenny, like many other women, have been forced to become desensitized to catcalling after experiencing it dozens of times. But this time was different, she explained:
Jenny became keenly aware of how alone she was — how she wasn’t only viewed as a source of entertainment by these men, but a “target.” “If I can be seen in this way, I must not be perceived as an equal member of society by these people. . . They laughed, I became filled with fear,” she wrote.
She decided to walk towards another bus stop, and as she did so, she noticed women passing by, all “looking blankly ahead, dodging and ignoring”:
But Jenny knew the answer: They couldn’t stand up to these men due to fear and intimidation. And though she made it on the bus safely, her night of degradation was not over:
Jenny’s story is not the only heart-wrenching part of this scenario — it’s how many women have responded to it. Thousands have taken to social media, recounting their own frightening experiences while walking on the streets alone, expressing their fear, frustration, and sadness that can only come from being dehumanized at such a visceral level:
But the letter has also spoken to men, who have had their eyes opened to the basic privilege of being a man walking the streets of a city alone:
Thank you, Jenny, for opening up about something so deeply personal, yet something so many women must face. We can only hope that it speaks to the men who make women afraid to walk the streets alone.
(Image via Flickr Creative Commons.)