International Women’s Day: Thoughts On Respect

Happy International Women’s Day!

Have you wished your female friends/family members/colleagues today? It’s always nice to know that we are in your thoughts, and that you appreciate the work we do/the role we play in society and on a more personal level, your lives.

That being said, I want to talk a bit about what happened to me this afternoon.

Day started out great. Got nice messages from friends and colleagues on Whatsapp, and a waiter wished me when I grabbed coffee from the cafe.

Come lunch time, I thought of walking to the neighbouring business district for some grub. The place was about 1km away, but I had been sitting on my butt all day and needed to stretch my legs.

Now, I need to point out that because I’m going for an event tonight for work, I dressed up better than my usual sweater/jeans/casual clothes. I’m wearing a simple navy blue dress with shoulders cut out, and a hem slightly above the knees. Not figure hugging. No cleavage. I consider this to be very decent for a cocktail party / formal event.  

I didn’t choose the boob life, the boob life chose me. Stop punishing me for it damn you

Nothing happened while walking to the cafe, but it was while I was walking back and waiting at a corner to cross the road when a bike slowed down. The rider looked me up and down, wolf whistled loudly, before driving off.

I was livid. If I could have chased his bike down and hurled him onto the asphalt, I would.

I am sick and tired of men putting women in uncomfortable situations in public. Wolf whistling or catcalling is not a compliment. We are not going to blush and giggle and think “ohmygod, a random ugly-ass man on the street thinks that I’m pretty/sexy!”. We are not going to drop our panties and offer you sex. All you’re doing is making us feel unsafe and uncomfortable, through no fault of our own.

I hear the raging chauvinists out there protesting: “Well, if you don’t want to be catcalled, cover up!” “It’s your fault for dressing like that!”

Unless you want women to dress up in burqas, this, in my opinion, is perfectly decent. Then again, rape, catcalling and a general disrespect for women still happens in places like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, so wtf is your reasoning for that then? Oh, I know, keep the women at home and don’t show them to anyone other than members of the family. Sound familiar?

There is this oft quoted story that some of my Muslim friends like to tell, that the Prophet Muhammad averted his eyes and told his companion to do the same when they were met with a woman who was not as covered as they’d like her to be. The message is clear: control your urges, and not the other way around. A woman can be completely covered, but a bad person will always have bad thoughts because their attitude stems from a general disrespect for and the objectification of women.

Then there’s that other clan of meatheads screaming: “It was an innocent compliment!” “I’d love for women to catcall me!”

Now, think about your mother. Imagine yourself catcalling your mom. Or your sister. Or your daughter. Or some other dude on the street doing that while you’re walking with them. Maybe you sick fucks thinks it’s okay, but normal, decent human beings will not do that, and neither should you to other women.

So, Happy International Women’s Day. It’s great to have a day to commemorate women and the value they bring to a family, community and society. But go beyond just wishing, and educate others around you about the value of respect. Respect your mothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, strangers on the street. Until the day we can be free of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Teach your children to have proper respect for each other from a young age, to stand up for what is right, and the world will be a better place in the future.


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