I was leaving Target.

I had made a plan with my friends to meet them for dinner, but I’d gotten off of work early and decided to head there to kill some time. I browsed for a while, and then picked out a face wash (I was running low at home), purchased it, and headed out into the parking lot to my car.

There was a family in front of me who was walking particularly slowly but I didn’t mind, because I still had a little bit of time before I had to go meet my friends at this restaurant. I walked patiently behind them, pacing myself, when I felt a hand on my arm.

Turning around, I was alarmed to see a large man in a Target vest and uniform, with one hand clamped on my spaghetti-strapped shoulder and holding on to a row of shopping carts with the other. He didn’t seem like he was going to let go, and I was too scared to move. The family in front of me was too busy helping their two kids cross the street to notice what was going on behind them.

The Target man with the hand on my shoulder smiled toothily at me. “Hi,” he said, giving my shoulder a squeeze. I jerked my arm away and started walking faster, accidentally knocking into one of the kids in the family in front of me. The mom gave me a dirty look.

“You’re beautiful,” the Target man called after me.

Sweaty and anxious, I hightailed it to my car and locked the doors.

Last summer on my way to my internship in the city, something similar happened to me. (I wrote about it here.) It’s not as if I haven’t experienced cat calling before, or experienced it in between last summer and now. I wrote about these two occurrences specifically because these men touched me without my permission, rather than just shouted or called out at me.

I’d like to reiterate what I wrote last time– there was no reason for that stranger to talk to me, let alone touch me. I never said it was okay, and nothing would have made it okay. Regardless of what I was wearing, regardless of my gender, that man did not have a right to touch me.  Yet somehow he felt that he was allowed to do it.

I’d also like to reiterate that I was not flattered by his unwarranted advances. I was unnerved, because a stranger had disregarded my bodily integrity and touched me without my permission. I was terrified, because I should be able to go shopping at Target without fear of being harassed by someone. I was embarrassed, because it had happened to me and I had let it happen and not said anything. I was not happy that he had complimented me, I was not pleased because he’d picked me to talk to or touch. I was not annoyed because someone had interrupted me while I was walking to my car. I was scared.

Another instance– yesterday, when I was walking to my car with my sister in the condominium complex where we live, two older men were outside in the parking lot working on their car. One of the guys gave me and my sister the up-down, clearly not seeing us for anything other than what we looked like and making us extremely uncomfortable, and shouted at us, “Hey, how you doin’?” The other one smirked at us.

First of all, this happened where I live, my home, where I am supposed to feel safe. At that moment, I did not feel safe. Second of all, my sister is seventeen years old. She is a minor. And the fact that these men catcalled at her terrifies me.

Women are susceptible to things like this happening every day. Men who catcall and harass women see it as a compliment, as something that women aren’t bothered by. They see women as sexual objects, not as real people with feelings, and that’s the problem. They don’t respect personal space, they don’t respect women, and they definitely don’t respect themselves enough to see that they’re doing something wrong.

I write this post as a repetitive plea– catcalling is not okay. Invading someone’s personal space without permission is not okay.

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10 Responses to I was leaving Target.

  1. ryandan says:

    Firstly let me be the first to apologise for his behaviour. He is clearly out of line. This is an issue that is raised often by women and the affect it has on them is clearly misunderstood by men.

    Reverse the role and make women the physically stronger and dominant sex and let’s see how men react when women step out of line. It will be an interesting situation to observe.

    I can go on forever on this subject – my daughter majored in gender studies at university and I have learnt a thing or two about feminism and women’s rights.

    Like

    • Thank you for understanding, and I appreciate your point of view. It’s interesting to try and see what it’s like in someone else’s shoes. I think that it also has to do with understanding personal space as well as bodily autonomy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kuromu101 says:

    I find it quite disgusting to be honest. I hate the fact that males in general think they can do anything or treat women as if they were nothing more but “pieces of meat”.
    The way that Target man acted was a complete violation of your private space and had no right to do so — especially when he was nothing more than a complete stranger. I wish that in the near future, men will start to use their brain and control their animal instincts instead of reducing women to simple “objects”.

    Like

    • Yes! I agree with what you said about females being viewed as “pieces of meat.” He didn’t see me as a person who would not appreciate his actions but as an object. He completely violated my bodily autonomy and it was so not okay. Thanks for your point of view. 🙂

      Like

  3. Kat @TFB nominated my for The Allergic to ‘E’ challenge. I have completed the challenge and have nominated you. Please see my Post Challenge: Allergic to the ‘E’ at http://overflawedmom.com/2015/06/22/challenge-allergic-to-the-e/

    I hope you enjoy the challenge as much has I did.

    OverFlawed Mom
    http://overflawedmom.com

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  4. A really strong post Amanda! ❤ I understand how you feel. The men you mentioned were really out of order. I often feel the same way about cat calls. I think some men think it's a compliment or something, but it really does make you feel like you're being objectified. I feel compliments would be given in a different way, as far as I know and feel cat calling makes women feel more awkward than anything. The man who grabbed you, that'really out of line, maybe you should write in a complaint to Target, explain his physique and that you felt harassed and unsafe. They shouldn't be employing someone like that, and probably wouldn't be if they knew. You never know maybe they've had more complaints and need yours and anyone else's to be able to take action.

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    • Thank you for your point of view Alicia, darling! ❤ I've read a lot of articles on cat calling, where men are interviewed for what they think of it, and many of them think women view it as a compliment when it is just plain uncomfortable and unsafe. That guy who grabbed me was completely out of line, and I've talked to my dad about talking to the people who work at that Target but we haven't really done anything about it. I kind of regret that, but I haven't gone back to that Target since then because I feel unsafe. You're totally right, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Amelia says:

    This post made me shudder because you are so on-point. I’m really sorry this happened to you. What makes me so angry is that it’s not just you–Girls face this kind of crap all the time.The fact that our culture raises men to think treating women in this way is absolutely disgusting. Just because they find you attractive does not give them ownership of your body or permission to touch you. Like you said, so often guys think they’re being flattering and that girls should be HAPPY they’re being noticed… when, really, it has the opposite effect.

    Like

    • Hi Amelia! Girls do have to deal with this kind of thing all the time, but what makes it even worse is that we kind of expect it by now. We have to change things big picture-wise, because you’re right, our culture raises men to objectify women and see them as lesser beings/people. That guy had no right to approach me, whether or not he thought I would be flattered and whether or not I was, and I haven’t been back to that Target since.

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