Objectified in the street.

No new posts in ages and then two in one day! To be fair, that may be because I’m at home recovering from tonsillitis. I’M SO BORED. HELP.

I just wanted to share something that happened to me a few days ago. I’m sharing it because I want to explain, from my perspective, why it was hurtful and inappropriate and why I see it as an instance of everyday sexism.

I was running an errand for work, dressed smartly. My trousers were fairly baggy and straight-legged, and in no way were they accentuating my figure or showing curves. Not that that would have justified what’s about to follow, but still.

I was walking along the street when I heard the guy behind me talking on his phone. The first thing I heard was: “there’s plenty of booty up for grabs in Bristol – even the girl in front of me, she’s got black trousers on and I can see even her ass is 10/10. Must be all that walking!” About 30 seconds later, he ended the call and approached me. He got my attention by touching my arm, and said “I just wanted to complement you on your amazing derriere!” I was already a bit shocked and annoyed about what I’d heard on the phone, and now he was invading my personal space and objectifying me to my face. He had carried on walking as he was saying this, and when he was at a safe distance, I replied “you’re a prick.” I was angry, and I wanted to convey that it wasn’t okay to talk about/ to me like that, but I felt I couldn’t be more direct with him as I was too intimidated. I was also shocked enough to be struggling for words, so I couldn’t explain to him why what he was doing was wrong. He then justified himself with, “you deserve to be congratulated on that ass.” I DESERVE to be CONGRATULATED? Oh, thank you, kind sir, for this honour you have bestowed upon me. I will be forever in your debt now you have validated my rear end. I had always hated my bottom and been self-conscious about it, but now you have rated it 10/10 and congratulated me on it I feel like I can wear it with pride.

I was going to the post office as a work errand. I was dressed smartly and just going about my day. Suddenly I get sexually objectified by a random man in the street. I felt violated and powerless, as though no matter what I do or where I am, I’m always going to be judged on my arse.

What’s even worse, though, is the fact that I experienced some inner turmoil about how I felt. Part of me felt flattered to receive such a compliment, and like I had been given validation as a result. Whilst I was incredibly angry and shocked, I also couldn’t help smile – “I have a good arse! Yes!” But that’s not how I WANTED to feel, or how I felt I SHOULD feel, so it just led to a lot of conflict in my head.

This is the male gaze.
This is male privilege.
This is the daily objectification and sexualisation of women.
This is not okay.

When will we learn?


Author: Charlotte Em

Bristol-based artsy liberal feminist. Mama to three ferrets.

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