Today, Tuesday the 8th of March, is International Women’s Day. This evening there’s a specially organised run to celebrate, for both women and ‘wingmen’ (supporting males). I wish I was going. I love running. I love running in numbers, better socialising, more motivation. But also because it reduces the amount of catcallers.
‘Catcalling is never ever a compliment.’
I find strength when I’m with friends, able to defend the herd, shouting back with annoyance and asking for us to be left alone. I can be particularly mouthy and I’m not proud of that, but the threat and the fear is real. When I’m on my own I’m usually too afraid to act. Not every male is a rapist, but every catcaller immediately has unspoken potential, no matter what they’ve said.
I once thought a catcaller who stopped me was a charity fundraiser. He wasn’t. When I rejected him, he emptied his bottle of water over my head as I walked away and hurled the empty plastic at my back. This was in front of a bus stop full of people who were astounded to find out I didn’t even know the guy.
Today is International Women’s Day. Today I was brave.
When a truck driver wolf-whistled at me and shouted something intelligible through his open window as he drove past I was frustrated. A couple of metres down from me he got stuck in a red light. We caught eyes in his side mirror as I marched up, internal Beyonce sass empowering me. He instantly looked worried.
“Did you just whistle at me?” He shrugs. “SO disrespectful. You do realise it’s International Women’s Day?” The words that fall out my mouth are small and feeble, but my intention and meaning was clear.
He gaped at me, his face reddening. “Oh shit, I forgot!”
“Misogynist.” Other people in their cars and pedestrians are looking. I give him a sarcastic queen’s wave. “Have a nice day.”