Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ain't Got No Wedding Rang

I lived in East Africa for 4 months, and I can assure you that I get more catcalls from the black guys in my neighborhood than I ever got over there. On my way to the Planned Parenthood today, (to get birth control, you assholes) I passed by a number of things that I would like to avoid in my day to day routine. (On a side note: living next to numerous fast food joints, I can also assure you that America's high schoolers, my least favorite species on earth, are overweight and will deny that eating McWhoppers on lunch breaks will make their sugar/emotional levels uneven and faces break out.)

It's an odd dichotomy between cultures like mine, where catcalls are embarrassing, to cultures like some in Latin America where if girls don't hear them, then they are obviously doing something wrong, and expect them. In my suburban, rich, white neighborhood, literally the only catcalls you heard were from Mexicans. This is not a racist comment at all, but a factual one- because in my 18 years living there I did not go to school with one single Mexican, yet on my way to school saw tens of them with leaf blowers pretty-ing the shit out of some mansions. This was always an embarrassing thing to hear for us high school girls. Years later, having been to many of their Latin American home countries, I now understand why this was not necessarily a rude thing to them, but one that is expected. While I usually hate to generalize cultures other than my own, I feel like having experienced them in such a way that went beyond tourist spas and resorts I get a better say than most Americans. I spent 4 months in Central America. I also spent 4 months in East Africa. Central America: catcalls common and welcome. East Africa: well... catcalls were a bit different there.

Catcalls in East Africa sounded like this "Mzungu! Mzungu!", which meant "White person!" This had nothing to do with the fact that I am a chick. Maybe it was because when I lived in El Salvador I had my "Hadn't yet discovered cheap beer and barely 18" body, while in Africa I had my "I just barely survived blood alcohol poisoning every weekend in my first 2 years of college and also forgot donuts aren't a vegetable" body.  Many times the "catcall" would pertain to my American nationality, whether it be good or bad. On the rare occasion an African with a fat-fetish would give me the benefit of the doubt and tell me I looked fine, which felt good even if he was saying it on a dare.

While walking two blocks from my house I hear (let's set the facts straight- I've spent most of my life in this country lacking diversity), "Yo kid, I don't see no wedding rang." This comment was not directed at me. At this point, I would slow down, pretend to take a phone call and maybe even walk home for good measure. However, on this day I was late for the bus and therefore work, and couldn't afford to stop without jumping in a taxi. So I continued towards the busy intersection that I must cross to get to the bus stop, where I am accosted in the middle of the road, "Hey guuurl!!! I don't see no wedding rang!!!" Maybe I'm not what most people would consider 'normal', but how would you react to a comment like this? It's different than the usual 'compliment catcall' where they simply say something nice about your booty, tatas, or face. I literally had no idea how to react with my ingrained scared-of-everyone mindset. Across the street, moments from Eden (bus stop), the guys stop and while walking towards them, he says, "Yo gurl! You married or what?"

Has any girl ever been picked up with the line, "Are you married?" While simultaneously being checked out and having the guy bite their lower lip, possibly touching themselves.  Most 'normal' catcalls do little to deter 'normal' women, but this was just outrageous. I couldn't see how else I was supposed to act. Fight outrageous with outrage! I laughed, while making solid eye contact- not really a normal laugh, but maybe like how I would imagine a 'guffaw' dripping with pity would sound. "No!" I responded, my voice implying 'You fucking idiot." I like to tell myself that other girls (i.e. me in most situations) would have either ignored it or maybe bashfully responded with a coy, "No..." I continued walking without fear of any other annoyance, and I was right. I've been curious ever since what he thought of my comeback.

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