Catcalls and Other Unnecessary Patriarchal Bullshit

About a month ago I was walking down the street, I had been sick for a while and had left the house only to get something for my cough. The water had been shut off in our apartment for about three days and this was day three, so I was sick, un-showered, exhausted and not in the mood for chatting with annoying strangers. I stopped to have a quick coughing fit on a street corner when I saw a man spot me and swerve out of his way to approach me. I saw the look in his eye, every woman who has ever received unwanted attention knows this look, he came over and gave me “hola, hermosa”. I glared at him shot back with a, “en serio?” between coughs and continued walking. I was literally coughing all over the street and this tool thought it was a nice opportunity to tell me I was pretty. I had a similar situation more recently in a fit of sneezes when a man approached and asked if he could get to know me better. The answer was no.

Almost worse than these situations is walking down the street and passing taxis honk as the drivers slow down and whistle. What a cop out, I don’t even get the satisfaction of telling them to shove it when they’re in a vehicle. This is probably the most obnoxious occurrence in the entire world. Street harassment. I say entire world because it is not unique to any one place, it has happened to me in every part of the world I have been so far from my home town in Vermont to the high Andes to West Africa I have received unwanted catcalls from men whose paths I have had the misfortune to cross.

The most amazing thing about street harassment to me is when I tell my male friends about it they can’t believe it. It’s like this whole other dimension they never have the pleasure of experiencing. I was recently out in town, in Cusco, with a male friend on a Saturday morning. We walked around shopping for a while and eventually said, “chau” as I continued to walk home to my apartment and he caught a taxi. I was not ten feet away from him when the unwanted attention swarmed. To second I was not in the company of a man I was fair game. I find this particularly insulting because of what this implys. That a woman isn’t to be bothered in the presence of a man and that is to be respected but if she is alone or with female friends, it’s fair game- respecting mens wishes not womens. It’s bullshit.

When I tell men to go to hell after hollering something obscene it is absolutely predictable what is going to happen next, every woman will tell you, the pig’s fragile ego will be damaged and he will immediately call you a bitch or say to his friend that what a bad temper that bitch has. How the fuck is it my fault for defending myself from being harassed? Worse than this is when you attempt to vent about such an occurrences and a man tells you, “well that’s what you get for being beautiful” or something to this effect. Oh, this is my fault for my appearance? Sorry, next time I leave the house I’ll be sure to wear a burlap sack and paper bag over my head. This is the same argument people make about women’s clothing when they say “she was asking for it”. It’s not the fault of the creep but the woman for existing. If there was no wheelchair ramp and your disabled grandma couldn’t get into a restaurant would you tell her, “well it’s just what you get for being in a wheel chair?” Probably not, you would likely blame to restaurant for not having appropriate wheelchair access for Granny. See what I’m getting at here?

I don’t know where the phenomenal confidence of these pigs comes from but I think women need some of it. There’s a serious imbalance happening. Women are somehow raised to be insecure delicate creatures and men overly confident jerks who think women owe them something. News flash, we don’t. This idea that women owe the world something is absurd and has got to go. Women get guilted into talking to, dancing with, going out with, and having sex with men they don’t want to spend time with because they don’t want to hurt his feelings. This is the most backwards normalized shit I have ever seen. I preach this to my friends to an obnoxious point. Just because some guy buys you a drink does not mean you have to do anything for him. Personally, I refuse the drinks with a glare and that usually sends a clear message but women shouldn’t have to feel as if they are being fucking hunted if they want to go out on public. Honestly.

I know none of this information is new to the world. There are probably a million blog posts about street harassment. Yet, the harassment never stops. So men, don’t be dicks, don’t yell shit at women and get offended when they don’t respond by dropping to their knees and sucking your dick. What the hell do you think is going to happen when you yell or whistle at a random chick? And women, tell men to shove it more often tell them to fuck off. Not only is it liberating, you have no obligation to be nice to anyone, you don’t owe anyone shit.

While my initial reaction is to be angry at the individuals who act overly aggressively and gross towards women I know it is a larger problem than that one person. It has a lot to do with societal standards and norms. One the makes men the hunters and women prey. What a stone aged idea. Come on, people, we can do better and be more respectful to each other.

P.S to all the haters: This is where I get called an angry feminist or a man hater. While these things do make me angry all I’m asking is to shed a little light on the actual absurdity of public harassment. In addition, I do not hate men, I am against patriarchal norms and the boxes it puts people into.

Party Imperialism

For the past two months I have been in Cusco, so I’m not exactly what you would call a “traveler”..yet. Soon, I will be one of those dirty backpackers with a look of bewilderment somewhere in a plaza toting around my belongings. To be honest, I don’t want to be one of these people, not because I don’t want to see new places, because I don’t want to be associated with a certain breed of backpackers. The party hostel packers. This specific type of culture is not unlike a frat culture but without U.S law enforcement. Everything that disgusts me about frat culture in America, from rape to racism, is present in party hostels in an arguably even more horrific way.  What is most shocking to me about this culture is the unwillingness people have to leave their own culture behind.

Two years ago I arrived to Cusco as a volunteer and some other volunteers invited me out to a hostel in town called “Wild Rover”. This hostel, unbeknownst to me, is a notorious party hostel chain that has several locations across South America. At the door you had to leave your passport number and locals, with a few exceptions, were turned away. It was almost strictly English speaking white people who were admitted to this hell hole. English music bumped through the bar as shirtless bar tenders poured liquor down willing and unwilling people’s throats who danced on the bar. “This is a frat party” I thought to myself- although I have very little experience attending such events even in The United States it resembled a culture I was familiar with. Why the hell would you travel all the way to South America to just continue to experience your own culture? Not only that, the worst parts of western culture.

I do not understand how people travel through South American countries without even trying to experience local culture in any form. For god’s sake, at least stay in a locally owned hotel and support the local economy. The wide spread tourist industry has allowed for people to have all the comforts of home while abroad. While I understand having some of these things can be nice- like familiar food, you are not in your home country so why not try to enjoy what the place you are in has to offer? How can you even say you have been to a place without experiencing parts of the culture? That’s how I saw Wild Rover’s guests. People who wanted to visit other places, but only to an extent, which is sad to me because Peru has so much to offer. If you want to be that ignorant why even leave your home country if you can’t be open to new things? I am not trying to generalize everyone who stays at these establishments but rather capture the essence of the culture behind hostel’s like this. Party imperialism if you will.

Such businesses are taking advantage of the relaxed laws and the tourist industry in other countries that will attract people with a party agenda with no return to the local community or acceptance of the local community. In fact, the local community is ostracized! Okay, you are on vacation. I get it, I like to party too. But damn it, have some class and respect for the local people and area. As an American, it’s embarrassing. These places are not enriching in any way or different than what you already know. Try something new, learn something, be a little uncomfortable, and you will grow as a person and hopefully be less of a douche bag.