An Open Letter to Men Who Yell at Me From Your Car

Image from: A Christmas Story (this is what I look like when I go outside)

First of all, thank you, for I must assume that the honking was a misguided attempt to give me a compliment, and as I am a lady, I have been raised to graciously accept these complements with a shy smile.

However, since it is in the middle of winter, I must admit to some confusion. While in the spring and summer I sport lovely floral print dresses, in the winter I am forced to choose survival and warmth over flattering flowers. In fact, when I do sum up the courage to travel out of doors on my own, I seldom resemble a woman at all! My layers of coats, scarves, and hats actually make me more comparable to a Bison, or perhaps even a large moving boulder.

So, though I try hard not to question too many things since I am a lady, this has caused me to pause and ponder your possible motives for continuing your flamboyant accolades on my appearance, when I myself would be unable to identify the fact that I am a human female.

Is this a chivalrous attempt to comfort me in a time of need? Is the honk of your horn your way of saying “Don’t worry miss, I still know you’re in there! And I bet you are BEAUTIFUL!”

If so, I wish to express my gratitude. I was feeling quite self-conscious about being forced to choose warmth and the continuation of my life over my ability to express my femininity.

Or perhaps you are in a situation in which women are quite a rare occurrence? In your life, are women a majestic myth akin to a Unicorn that you have only ever seen pictures of? Were you so shocked to see what might be a woman out of the corner of your eye that your automatic response was to shout “GIRL!” for the benefit of those around you?

If this is the case, congratulations! I was a female! I hope seeing me was a thrill.

Or maybe you think I had forgotten my gender all together, and were only seeking to remind me. I know it is surprising to see a woman in so many unflattering layers. Why, you can hardly make out the shape of my bosom at all!

Thank you so much for your concern, and for reminding me of my place. Though the weather often reaches 30 below, I will attempt to be more visually pleasing next time you happen upon me during your travels down the road.

Whatever the reason, being a modern woman, I often forget that you seem to believe my main purpose in life is your enjoyment.  However you get that enjoyment, either by attempting to be a chivalrous gentlemen looking out for my needs, some lonely sole just surprised by my existence, or aggressively reminding me that I am, in fact, a woman, I must urge you to reconsider your behaviour.

Honking and yelling from your automobile is base, simple, rude, intimidating, and a form of sexual harassment.  I strongly believe that I and my fellow women should be free to walk down the road without being constantly reminded of our gender, without being objectified on such a base level, and without being sexualized simply for being out in public.

To my dear lady friends who urge me to hide my anger and accept the compliment, I implore you to reconsider the complexities of the social exchange that has just occurred. The fact that street harassment occurs even in the dead of winter illustrates that it seldom has anything to do with your personal looks – it only has to do with the fact that you are a woman.

So, in conclusion, though the act of yelling at me from your car may even in the best light be a misguided attempt at a compliment, it’s not.

Stop it.

Sincerely,

Tessa MacIntyre

If you want to help end street harassment, check out http://www.ihollaback.org/

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