About a week or so ago, some friends of mine and I were discussing the phrase “You deserve better than…” after someone else had recently said it to me with regard to a complicated situation in which I had found myself. It’s an odd phrase to me, but I know that some people love it.
My main issue with that phrase is that we don’t always get what we deserve in life. We just don’t. The person who said that to me said it with good intentions, but the thing that he had forgotten is that we don’t always get what we deserve. Sometimes, we have to compromise and accept a less desirable option.*
I like to go for walks as a form of exercise. I can’t run due to knee issues, which stinks because I want to run a marathon. I really do. But anyway, I like to go and walk for about 40 minutes or so in the early evening. It clears my head and helps me work off stress. I listen to music. I day dream. And I get honked at by random dudes driving down the road.
When I lived with my parents, I walked in their subdivision, and I never really got catcalls or honking. I loved it. But now that I lived in an older, more traditional neighborhood, part of my daily walk involves a major road…and the honking is a part of my walk. I go for walks in either a sweatshirt/coat with jeans or a t-shirt and (boys’) gym shorts in the summer. I don’t view my attire to be provocative or even really attractive. And most days, someone honks at me. I know that this is intended to be a compliment, and I don’t think that these men are bad people. I think that they’re not thinking about what they’re doing.
But here’s the thing. I feel objectified by this. I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t feel complimented. I feel weird. I realize that the honking is meant as “you’re hot” or “you have a nice body” or something like that. It’s not meant to be creepy or gross. But it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel like they see me as an object rather than a person.
Now I don’t know any of these guys, and I don’t know their stories. But if I could, I’d love to sit down with them and tell them how it makes me feel to be honked at. See, I’m more than my body. And I want to be seen as more than my body. I’m a person with thoughts and feelings and what not. I love baseball. I love to read. I love to knit. I love to drink coffee. I love to laugh and to cook and to play Scrabble. I love cats and dogs. I like chocolate, but I don’t like Skittles. I love most tea, but I’m not much for rooibos.
These guys don’t know me. I could be married. I could have five kids. I could be a lesbian. I could be a really feminine looking dude. (That’s unlikely, I realize, but I’m just throwing things out there.) None of that is obvious from looking at me when I’m walking down the street.
Now, I don’t think that I deserve to be honked at. I don’t dress in a manner that could be described as “asking for it,” and even if I did, that’s still not an appropriate response/behavior. I don’t deserve to be treated as an object. No woman does. Women (and men-all humans, in fact) deserve to be treated with respect. Honking at a woman isn’t respectful. It also wouldn’t be respectful if I honked at guys walking down the road because I thought they were almost as hot as I think Tom Hiddleston is. (For the record, I wouldn’t honk at TH if I saw him walking down the road; that’s rude.)
The problem is that I can’t sit down and talk to these guys. I can’t find out their stories and share mine with them. I have to simply accept the honking. I may not “deserve” it. It may make me uncomfortable or make me feel objectified. But until men stop honking at women or at least stop finding me attractive enough to honk at, I have to take it. I think that I deserve better than being honked at. I think that these guys deserve better than honking at random women.
But in reality, it doesn’t matter what I deserve or what I think that I deserve. I can’t change the world. I can only change me. So I’m going to choose to continue ignoring the honking. I can accept that it’s happening. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. But I have compromised (internally) and accepted it because I don’t think that it’s possible to fight with every guy who honks or whistles at me.
But seriously people, dudes have got to stop honking at women. Women deserve better. And honestly, so do men.
*I’m not talking about compromising with major life decisions. I’m talking about compromising with things like not attending an event we want to attend because the situation simply isn’t logistically feasible. I might deserve to attend that event, but the logistics might not actually pan out.