I’m an intern with an organisation near botanic avenue, and a local education institute have recently commissioned a construction co. to do some work on the houses at the bottom of the street. It was my birthday at the end of August and I left work with a colleague to go for a celebratory lunch. Given the minimal amount of sunshine it was the perfect opportunity for a bunch of the builders to group together outside and, shocker, mutter/whistle as my friend and I walked past. I stopped – something I rarely do – said excuse me, asked who whistled. Cue sniggering, smirking, shrugging, no actual verbal response.
I asked again and suddenly the entire building they were sitting outside of erupted with jeers and whistles – really loudly, out of nowhere, most of the men not even visible. I just about managed “Hey, that’s street harassment, well done” before walking on, followed by the laughter and jeering the ENTIRE way down the street. There was no swearing, nothing overtly sexual, but I felt extremely intimidated in an area where I usually feel safe and, to be honest, a bit stupid for trying to say anything at all. Especially since even the slightest attempt to challenge/question/communicate makes it ten times worse. And, as is often the case with this sort of thing, the harassers get to go straight back to their day while you’re left slinking down the street feeling like a scared fourteen year old, wondering if YOU could have handled the situation any better.
I honestly don’t mean to tar all men in the construction trade with the same brush – in fact I’m sure there are many who’re decent enough to NOT be on board with the casual harassment of passing women – but I also wish the vast majority wouldn’t live up to such a shitty, sexist stereotype almost every time I come into contact with them.