As I got out of my car in the Walgreens, I heard the low whistle. I had already noticed the two men sitting in the van, but honestly I hadn’t thought twice about their attention. After being pregnant for nine months, I had forgotten what it was like to be whistled at and catcalled. I’m not sure if it was just me or not, but there was something reverent or holy about being pregnant that catcalls and whistling indecent.
Now that I’m three months postpartum, I remember distinctly what it’s like to be a woman in 2016. It means dealing daily with the sexism that results in catcalling and whistling at someone you don’t know. It means that when you relay these experiences to another person, you run the risk of hearing, “But you should take that as a compliment, especially since you just had a baby.”
Really? That’s the best we can do in 2016? Advise women to unsolicited comments from men as a compliment? That’s the best I can hope will be modeled to my son in today’s society?
And I know I’m not alone. Women experience this much too often and while we might smile or laugh it off, if you really ask us, you’ll understand that we have to have a coping mechanism because we deal with it too often.
The reason this is such an issue is that same mindset that allows for catcalling and whistling at a stranger in the parking lot with a baby in her arms, allows for the reasoning that women don’t need to make as much as men, or that maternity leave is a vacation. We have told ourselves this isn’t a big issue. We have dubbed women who bring this issues to light as alarmists or pot-stirrers, but until it isn’t acceptable to catcall or whistle at a woman in public, there’s no hope these other things will change.