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They Finally Did It. Some Women Had Enough Of Creepy Men's Crap And Documented Their Experiences.

If you've ever endured standing in line waiting to pay for your Chinese food while trying desperately not to make eye contact with the dude aggressively staring you down with all the confidence of knowing there's nothing you can do about it (like I had to last week), you'll understand what I mean. Leah Beckmann and Mark Lotto from Matter gave us their blessing to republish this eye-opening breakdown of street harassment documented by women the world over. Each brand of harassment listed is completely unacceptable.

We asked 10 women in nine countries to record every instance of street harassment—every catcall, every ass-ogle, every creepy look—for an entire week. The results? A strong argument for just becoming a shut-in.

Edited by Leah Beckmann


Catcalling—a cute name that uses the image of a soft mammal on a telephone to stand in for some super rude behavior—is something women experience everywhere, in every city and country, all the time.

Some women think it’s a compliment; that a stroll down Confidence Avenue is not only healthy, but that hearing the opinions of male strangers, usually shouted from streetcorners or a moving car—Can’t stop! Too many other girls to catcall!—is “validating.” This is…a questionable argument to make. For most of us, catcalling is mortifying at best; at worst, it makes you want to pull out someone’s eyeballs with your bare hands.

For one full week in September, we asked women from 10 different cities around the globe to keep a diary record of any kind of unwanted attention they received, including every untoward advance from a stranger, every leering stare and smile and “Hey baby” directed their way.

Here’s what we learned:

1.

Based on the individual experiences of these 10 women, Mexico City was the worst of the group—with 29 catcalls in a single week. San Francisco and Nairobi were basically tied for second, with 17 and 16 respectively. Tel Aviv and Occidental College in L.A. had the least, with only two. (For our college correspondent, both of those happened off campus, so you could count Occidental as zero.)

2.

Italy wins for Most True To Its Cultural Stereotype. Short of screaming out, “Mama mia, when the moon hits your eye I’m a pepperoni pizza,” the men of Rome, Sicily, and Le Cinque Terre couldn’t have been more on the nose if they tried. A sample from our Italy correspondent:

As soon as I got off the plane in Sicily’s Cantania airport, I dragged myself to the first coffee shop in sight, half-asleep. The young waiter — a slender young man, aged between 25 and 30, with blond hair and blue eyes, wearing his black uniform as a waiter at a coffee bar — had a welcoming smile for all clients who were having their croissants and cappuccinos. He took my order, served me my double espresso and croissant, and moved on to the German woman standing next to me. “Could you possibly have a prosciutto sandwich before 9am?” he asked me in Italian, knowing the German lady wouldn’t probably understand. I lifted my eyes up from my espresso and he muttered, “Are you an American movie star?” I must have looked perplexed. “OK, maybe not. I just meant to say that we could turn off the lights here, now that you and your eyes walked in.” Buongiorno, Sicily!

3.

There are two kinds of catcallers in this world. Those who are annoying as hell but feign politeness:

And those who are annoying as hell but have adopted an IDGAF attitude toward politeness:



4.

In Mexico City, our correspondent encountered behavior so aggressive, she began to wonder what she had with her that would work as a weapon.

“I was walking faster now, and started thinking about what I could use to hit him if I had to, and I thought about using a water bottle if he came too close.”

And when she called police:

“These were the two cops I’d called, one female and one male. They were talking to me about my complaint, but kept staring at my hip tattoos. I pulled up my pants but they still kept trying to see them.”Debora Poo Soto, Mexico City

5.

Women almost always experienced catcalls when they were alone.

6.

Men, on the other hand, often catcall when they are with other men. They do it a lot when they’re alone too. Men catcall all the time, constantly, always. Men, you are never not catcalling. Women’s sole purpose in this world is being a thing at which you can catcall.

7.



And now a scene from Singapore, and also every other place in the world:

Man: Hey girl.
Woman: …Hi.
Man: Can I buy you a drink?
Woman: No thank y—


Man, violating the laws of physics, already at the next table of women: Hey girl. Can I buy you a drink?

Woman:

8.

Several of the cities found that catcallers are very preoccupied with the smiles of the women around them. The most common catcall our contributors experienced was some variation of, “Can I get a smile?” or “Hey girl, did you forget how to smile?”

9.

Kati Krause, Berlin’s correspondent: “Sexism is much more insidious here (so much so that I sometimes miss the more overt type in Spain).” From her diary:

Two sleazy-looking middle-aged men in suits were smoking outside the opening of a cinema-turned-art space and shooting looks at the young women around them. ‘You can forget about the art, but the in-crowd, the in-crowd is here,’ one of them said.”

10.

Catcalling usually occurred while women were commuting, probably because this is the time when women are most often alone. It is also one of the many times of day when there are men.

11.

Catcalling doesn’t always happen on street corners and from moving cars; it happens up close, in, for instance, grocery store checkout lines.

“The man in line behind me belched a hot stench of vodka’ed breath in my direction. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.” — Anonymous, Ulan Bator, Mongolia

12.

…which is an incredibly offensive insult in Swahili. It is best translated as, Come and sell sex for us.”

13.

Men often—like, often—stare at women’s boobs and butts and the rest of their bodies. One of the most common “themes” of the diaries was an intense Leg Stare our contributors received when walking. There were 7 total incidences involving legs—in New York, San Francisco, Nairobi, and Ulan Bator, Mongolia—along with the comment, “You have beautiful legs, eyes…”

14.

It’s not just the construction worker cliches that apply. Here’s Sarah Emerson, from New York, on a Monday morning encounter in a Whole Foods:

I was standing in line to pay for my lunch at Whole Foods, chatting with a coworker. Clutching my shitty array of terrible salad bar items, I noticed that a guy in the neighboring check-out lane seemed to creepily catch my glance every time I looked in his general direction.

He was older, maybe in his forties, and sported a sleek man-bun. Holding onto a container of sushi and a bottle of kombucha, he gave me an obvious once-over. Ugh.

There’s a feeling you get in your gut when you realize you’re being leered at by a strange man. Imagine someone running their hands along your body without your consent. The reaction is like an urge to puke coupled with a strong desire to rip their eyeballs out. Yeah, that sounds dramatic and violent (Scout’s Honor, I have never ripped anyone’s eyeballs out), but unwelcome looks can be just as violating as other forms of sexual harassment.

It’s difficult to reject an obscene glance. It’s embarrassing to say “stop looking at me.” It’s impossible to prevent someone from eye-fucking you.

Short of stealing my food, there was nothing I could do to evade his gaze, so I waited in line until it was over.

15.

However, all of the cliches also apply:

“Dayummm!”San Francisco.

16.

Catcallers are everywhere. Even in your church in Nairobi. Blessings.

“Bwana wazuri wako kanisani, nijaribu,’ which means, ‘Good men are found in church. Try me.”—Violet Andoyo

17.

So: What does this all mean? It means that we should take a good hard look at the world around us. I mean physically, right now, take your eyes and peer into that bush over there. Is there a man in it? Because here is one thing we know for sure: No matter where we are in this big wide world of ours, wherever there is a woman walking to work, or buying her high heels and tampons at a grocery store, or loudly singing to a Taylor Swift song in her Jetta, or standing, literally just standing anywhere on terra firma, there you will find a pervy man demanding proof that this lady remembers how to smile.

Please read the full diaries. (Really, do it. They’re great.):

  1. Kati Krause in Berlin.
  2. Italy (Rome, Sicily, La Cinque Terre)
  3. Los Angeles (Occidental College)
  4. Mexico City
  5. Nairobi, Kenya
  6. New York City
  7. San Francisco
  8. Singpore
  9. Tel Aviv
  10. Ulan Bator, Mongolia
Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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