Being female

I’m currently training for a half marathon but the weather is terrible. Too windy for Tempelhof, meaning I probably can’t jog today. I can’t run in Hasenheide because every time I have ever run in there, I’ve been catcalled by drug dealers. They make comments like ‘oh, I wish I could work out with you’. I’d rather stay inside than endure this. Normally Tempelhof is a safe bet to jog and not be disturbed, but even the other day, a guy stopped me mid run and danced for me.

A few weeks ago, I was catcalled four times in a radius of under 2km from my apartment. By the end of the day, I was angry and fed up. A few years ago, I used to get harassed every day walking to and from German class. Why can’t I walk outside in peace?

Why? Because I am female. I am actually lucky that the worst thing I have ever experienced is unwanted verbal remarks. I’m lucky I’ve never properly been followed home, or been physically or sexually assaulted. (I say not properly followed home because once a guy followed me from the train station and part way home to try and pick me up but I eventually managed to get rid of him.) I am one of the lucky ones and that is the sad part.

Some guys think that we should take catcalling as a compliment. It is not. We do not enjoy strange men making sleazy comments at us. They make us feel unsafe and they make us feel angry. It doesn’t matter what we wear, even during peak winter when we are bundled up in jackets and beanies and scarves, we are still harassed. In the hotter seasons, I still make sure not to dress too ‘revealing’, to minimise the amount of potential harassment I will receive.

I almost aways wear headphones when I’m outside so I can pretend not to hear what these men say. I walk with a scowl on my face and avoid eye contact with almost everyone to prevent conversation. Being able to go outside, wearing whatever the hell I want, feeling safe and not getting harassed? That would be a dream. Men don’t know how lucky they are.

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