When Catcalling Kills You

Mary “Unique” Spears (27) was shot and killed after refusing the advances of an unidentified man in Detroit. The engaged mother of three was with her fiancé when she rejected the romantic interest of the suspect. Five others were also injured after the suspect fired multiple shots and attempted to flee on foot. Her family and friends launched a Go Fund Me page on Monday to assist with her burial. Currently, the campaign raised $4,700 of the $6,000 from close to 170 donors.

Sparking outrage and fear across social media platforms, her death was shortly followed by more senseless gender-based violence. An unidentified woman was attacked in Queens, NY after spurning the advances of the unidentified suspect. Investigators are searching for the man who viciously slashed a woman’s throat after she turned out a date offer. The 26-year-old woman is in critical, but stable condition.

This is why I’m a Black feminist. Because gender-based violence, especially when directed at Black and Brown self-identified women, is a terrifying anomaly that’s been normalized by patriarchy. All too often, women cope with the expectation of gender-based violence; we clutch our purses, carry our pepper spray, and hold our breath as we walk past a group of men. We hold the buddy system as gospel, and look out for each other when put in potentially violent situations.

Recently, a friend who isn’t well-versed in feminist dialogue, told me how fearful she was when walking past a group of men on her way home from work. Lacking the language to define the patriarchal conditioning which buttresses her fears, I explained how her apprehension is a perfect example of how society mandates that women cope with the various forms of violence and discomfort that are imposed upon us.

Catcalling recently sparked controversy when this misguided soul said that women should take catcalling as a compliment; as an affirmation of self-empowerment and womanly confidence. Whatever.

side note: some speculate that the article in question is satirical, but that remains to be seen.

Regardless, for the women who, like me, are terrified not just of catcalling, but the behavior that follows rejection, these two incidents serve as a harrowing reminder that our fears are gravely justified. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been called a ‘ugly slut bitch’ after ignoring a variety of grotesquely hyper-sexualized catcalls. Nor can I fathom the numerous times that I’ve feared physical retaliation.

With experience, I’ve come to tolerate verbal abuse and harassment, but the threat of physical violence is one that I’m not prepared for.

And let current events tell it, I should brace myself for the very real possibility that I can be killed because I’m daring enough to maintain control of my body, romance, and sexuality.

These incidents are not isolated, nor are they circumstantial. They’re evidence of patriarchal entitlement and the archaic belief that women do not, and should not, have control over their sexual identity. These actions speak to the longstanding credo that women are subservient and inferior to the grossly sexual wants and desires of men. With the recent gains of feminism, women are now afforded the language and resources to understand how oppression is especially dangerous when entangled with sex. That’s half the battle. The next half involves changing the cultural norms and social mores that encourage and perpetuate violence against our bodies.

photo 1Arielle Newton, Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @BlackMusings. Get at us @BlkMillennials

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10 responses to “When Catcalling Kills You

  1. This is upsetting to say the least. I normally don’t even acknowledge the cat calling which seems to be the smart thing to do however that’s the same as turning them down so now I worry more.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on New girl. New lanes. and commented:
    Sad sad sad!
    This makes me think of an incident when I was in the mall and I suppose the guy was trying to get my attention. I was clearly pregnant and waddling, I was in my work uniform, and I simply ignored him and went into the store that I was rushing into. I really wasn’t trying to be in the mall very long so I didn’t want to stop at all. As I’m entering the store I hear him mutter something to his co worker along the lines of me being rude but I continue on my way. As I leave the store I have to pass him and I could just feel him staring at me as if I had done something wrong.
    I could only imagine if I had been out at night and some man tried to catcall at me…it would take a lot for me not to call him out on his disrespect.
    This of course happens to men as well I’m sure…in some aspect…in some place. In fact, I wonder if the roles had been reversed how a man would feel about being objectived and disrespected?

    So until next time…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never been catcalled. The “art” of catcalling doesn’t include violence or death for that matter. This guy obviously is an obsessive poor jackass of a boy. By the way the reporters didn’t see the picture of the victim. Why?

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  4. For me catcalling happens frequently, especially since I don’t have a car and need to walk most places. I don’t dress suggestively and I still have to deal with guys slowing down their car and even pulling over to ask if I wanna ‘go for a ride’. Or ‘hey beautiful what are you doing by yourself?’ I’m walking, that’s what! By far the scariest time was when I was walking in a parking lot at night in my work uniform (dress pants a T-shirt and flats) and a man in his 50s pulled up beside me and followed me. In my mind I was panicked because he didn’t say a word, just stared. I didn’t know what to do buy yell “what the f**k keep driving!” I picked up the pace of my walking nervous if he was going to assault me. Luckily he drove off. I went home in fear. Every time I walk out my door it’s fear. And that’s unfair that we as women have to be on alert 24/7 and pray no man will make us victims.

    Liked by 1 person

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