When I was younger growing up in the sandy streets of Khayelitsha, there is but one thing I dreaded more than anything in back then and that was going to the shops. I hated it. I mean we had a shop down our street but I tell you the walk always felt like forever, it had nothing to do with the sand but more to do with those electrical boxes usually found at street corners. The danger boxes, as we would call them that is where boys gathered.
Man! They made growing up as a girl tougher than it should have been. I did not even know there was a word for that behaviour until later on in life—Cat calling.
There you are walking trying hard not to forget the list of items you are to get at the shop, meanwhile all you hear is:
‘Nongena basket uyangena emarket”
‘aaahhh look at that, slender never gets tired unless the owner is careless’
I mean come on!
You would think that it would get better as we grow older right? You would think that once these boys grow up, go to school, get proper education, become fathers, they will outgrow these right?
I thought so too, until the other day.
I decided to pop by at the shops after gym. As I was approaching the entrance there was this person standing in front of this big car. I thought it was his until he started with the catcalling thing. But then again it could have been his car who said man who drive big machines do not do cat calling? I did what any other woman in my position would do, I ignored him. He followed me into the shop and he was on some:
‘Oh wait I feel like I know you, he he he’. I laughed inside and continued looking for the items I wanted.
‘Come on , you know you wanna talk to me’
Again, I carried on with my shopping totally ignoring this person.
“Okay I’m leaving, do you know you may never see this face again look at me”
Just before I could answer (about bloody time) he grabbed my phone, I paced around looking for a guard in between screams while he was just there fiddling with my phone, before the security could come he handed the phone and said:
“I just wanted to save my number on your phone I know you want it”
This has to be the creepiest thing a grown man has ever done to me; I mean what do you do?
This is more than just a story of a ruined shopping. It is an example of how men feel so entitled to women’s time that they have the guts to interrupt women who are going about their daily lives, just to unwantedly insert their stupid advances into your consciousness. It was GLARINGLY obvious that I was never interested in whatever he had to say, but he had to persist right, because apparently women do not know what they want.
This man felt so entitled to my time and my attention in spite of me not knowing him from a bar of soap and making it obvious that I was not interested. While he cannot particularly be blamed for his first attempt to talk to me, all subsequent attempts even when it was obvious I was not interested in returning his advances show how arrogant, entitled, and stupid he is. It is this same level of arrogance and entitlement that leads to the rampant street harassment women face on a daily basis.
Women cannot walk ANYWHERE without being harassed with comments and unwanted touches from men on the street. It’s almost as if the moment you step foot on the street, you too become public property like the street you are walking on.
Why should a man continue his unsolicited intrusion when the woman has made it clear that she does not want or welcome it?
Is it all part of “No really means Yes” attitude that men in this country have and it is a DISGRACE.
No NEVER means Yes.
No does NOT mean “Yes, after a long time”
When someone tells you No, whether by saying it verbally or by their body language or their actions, then for Pete’s sake, STOP.
Fathers I am begging you here please, when your teach your sons how to
Throw a ball
Throw a good punch
Tie a tie
Build a boat using Lego or something
Or How not to be a sissy (whatever that means)
Please be sure to teach them not to harass people, especially women. If your son is a street harasser, a bully or just a plain old misogynist, it is YOUR fault, they learned it from you.
South African men, if you are one of the reasonable ones that does not behave like an animal towards women, please advise your friends against their animalistic behaviour.
It is Ridiculous really…