“Simon, imagine every time you have to leave the house, you have to think about someone catcalling you, or even touching you inappropriately. It has to be something you think about, something in your stream of thought every morning. Like remembering to take out frozen chicken in the morning so you can cook it in the evening.
I assume when you leave the house, you just leave. You don’t think much about anything, you don’t consider anything. You walk out, only thinking if you’ll be punctual enough for your rendezvous. Sindio?”
“Us girls, we have to think and plan, especially if you don’t have a car or enough money to take a cab. We pick out dresses with you guys in mind.
Will this dress attract too much attention?
Does it reveal too much skin?
Is it safe to walk around in it?
Imagine having to answer these three questions every time you leave. Answering them because you have to. Because your life depends it.
And that’s not the half of it.
When you finally settle on the right dress and leave, anxiety overcomes you right when you step into the sun. It starts with a man at the bus stop who arrives right after you and stands behind you. You feel his glare on the back of your head, and butt. So you turn to look at him and your suspicions are right. He looks away.
Then when you’re finally able to escape the first creep, there’s another one in the bus. This one just stares. You wonder what he might be thinking and what he might do to you if other passengers weren’t there. He might be undressing you in that filthy mind of his. Or he might be staring absent-mindedly. He might even be thinking about how he’ll raise school fees for his daughter, maybe you remind him of her. You can never know for certain. All you know is you have to be cautious, paranoid even. You have to see the worst in people to survive in this town.
Sometimes, you’re not so lucky to find an absent-minded starer. This one will be ogling shamelessly, certainly undressing you. He won’t even flinch and look away when you catch him gawking. He will look you dead in the eye without any ounce of shame whatsoever. In his eyes, you’ll see thirst lurking. So you look away in disgust. You look at him once again, staring at your covered up thighs and legs and breasts – those same thighs and legs and breasts you covered up because of perverts like him. And you come to a saddening realization that there is no amount of clothes, or lack thereof, that will prevent guys like these to ‘fantasize.’ You realize that were it not for the people around, he would have tried to have his way with you.
Imagine getting to a point where all these don’t scare you anymore because they’ve been part of your life since your breasts started growing and hips started protruding. Those were the pubescent days where guys were timid and they’d quickly look away when you’d catch them staring. They needed some booze in their system to wake their horny demons. And when they would awake, the boys became too courageous. They would grope you and say some nasty stuff kids their age shouldn’t even know. Because we had already been fucking programmed to believe catchphrases like ‘men are just like that’, and misconceptions like sexual abuse had to involve penetration, we accepted their apologies when they blamed it on the booze. Si you know me I’m not like that, it was the teii.
That’s why most of us are so stoic. We take your nasty comments you cover up as jokes and the occasional spank in clubs.”
“Well shit, I’m sorry.”
“No worries, that’s the life of a girl.”
“It must be hard.”
“No it’s not, tulizoea. Anyway, do you now agree girls are stronger than you guys?”