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On my daily walk to school, I get harassed. It’s part of my routine: get off the bus, get catcalled, go to school, repeat. I was told to ignore it, avoid eye contact, and move away. And I used to do that.
But recently, while waiting for my drink at Starbucks, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to face an older man. I ignored his comments, but they quickly turned sexual. “I’m talking to you. You’re lucky I’d give you this.” He yelled gesturing at his pants.
The barista stared at me like he was asking me what to do. The man grabbed a coffee from the counter, threw it at me, and left. I stood there, covered in coffee, on the verge of tears.
Now…I call out the catcallers. Someone asks for my number? “You know I’m 17, right?” I shout loud enough that bystanders hear. Someone comments on my body? “That’s disrespectful,” I yell. Seeing a leering face drop fills me with pride.
I know there are risks and sometimes I hold back. But talking back is my attempt to build a world where catcalling isn’t the norm.