I often find myself in situations where I am totally dumbfounded by what people are saying around me. Most of the time, I overhear the most stupid conversations, but today it was different. Today, I heard a young woman frustrated and speaking up.
“You should respect my body!” She shouted. “What if I was your sister?!”
At first, I could feel myself really agree with her. Yes, he should respect her body! Yes! Would he treat his sister or his friend’s sister in a similar manner? No, probably not. Yes – he feels totally comfortable objectifying this young woman’s body out of the safe comforts of anonymity. Because let’s be real, no guy catcalls women they actually know.
But then, what she said angered me even more than what his wandering hands, or eyes, or whatever he did in the first place.
Why do I have to be someone’s f*cking little sister to get some respect around here?
Why do I have to belong in some fashion to another man for someone to stop their eyes from lingering on my body? I have to be put in a category and owned somehow so they can find reasons to not degrade me in public. “Oh, she’s his sister – lay off, dude.” I hate that. I really f*cking hate that.
In my opinion, it’s such a medieval stance. Some man has to own me to make sure I maintain my purity and, therefore, my value. This theory of thought is literally so outdated it is predated King Arthur, Merlin, and all that jazz. This thought process is so old that the people who preached about it literally didn’t even know how to write their own names because literacy wasn’t even a thing yet.
I’m about as far over it as a single human being can be. I don’t go around staring at men’s junk just because it’s there because I’m a decent person and staring is rude. In fact, I don’t know one woman who, after a man walks past, would nudge me and say, “Please tell me you saw that, right?” I don’t care who you are, keep your eyes where they f*cking belong.
The thing that irritates me the most out of the whole thing is that my brother is respected more than me, and he is a sophomore in high school and doesn’t even have his license yet. When I ask someone to stop staring at my body, I get laughed at and called a prude. When a 16-year-old with a school uniform asks someone to stop staring at his sister, it’s all apologies and it won’t happen again.
Of course, a wandering eye doesn’t seem so serious to the perpetrator. A common argument is often that just looking isn’t a crime. Yet, they don’t see the embarrassment and disgust of the wife holding their hand. They don’t see the woman in the corner wrapping her coat around herself as if to hide her body. They don’t see me with my mouth dropped in frustration that my kid brother just had to stand up for me again.
In case you’re confused or have simply forgotten, I am a human being. I have passed every test in personhood. I’ve moved out. I figured out the washer and dryer. I’m old enough to have developed a taste for wine. But there is one thing about myself that I, unfortunately, don’t have much control over – my body. And that’s because society says that anyone can have a look-see if they want and there is nothing I can do to stop them.
And don’t tell me to f*cking smile about it.
Featured Image via Elle Stranger.