Writer Elizabeth Mendez Berry recently wrote a piece detailing the dangers women must face when strolling the streets. Many women encounter cat-calling, unwanted touches, and are many times put in uncomfortable situations by total strangers.
This epidemic has serious consequences: University of Connecticut researchers found that “the experience of street harassment is directly related to greater preoccupation with physical appearance and body shame, and is indirectly related to heightened fears of rape.” In a country where one in three women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime, such fears are not unfounded.
Mendez believes that many men who cat-call, don’t realize the psychological harm they cause to women:
Unfortunately, the average street corner catcaller is oblivious to this reality. Recently, a young man on a bicycle followed me up my own street. When I asked him to leave me alone, he was surprised and seemed even embarrassed, as if it had never occurred to him that a woman wouldn’t enjoy being chased at night. Though many catcallers don’t have nefarious intentions, they don’t put themselves in our shoes. Too often, it’s a long, uncomfortable walk home.