“You must think you’re something, with those grown-up shoes, huh? Watch out, sweetheart, men like me just love girls like you.” I was barely 12 years old when I got catcalled for the first time. I had just gotten my first pair of high heeled shoes and I was excited to show them off. I was in a rush and I decided to cut through the “bad” neighborhood. Bad idea. He didn’t have a face, just a voice calling out from inside a dark, hole in the wall, shop. I had walked faster, and I haven’t worn those shoes since. From ages as low as 8 years old, girls are sexualized to an extreme. We become objects, just a pair of legs for you to comment on. “Seventeen Years Old”, by Sara B., highlights the fact that from a young age, girls are taught that they must cater to boys and then smile through the harassment.
Sara says, “I am told that boys do not like girls with short hair.” She made a personal decision to cut her hair, her hair. But yet, her choice is ridiculed because boys won’t “like” it. Later in her article, she says, “Our father tells us that we should soften up a bit so we don’t scare boys off. Boys, after all, don’t like mean girls.” There it is again, that phrase. “Boys don’t like.” They don’t like her hair, they don’t like her face. She is told to change herself to satisfy their needs. But it’s not just Sara who faces this. One in four girls will be sexually abused before they are 18. 12.3% of women were age 10 or younger at the time of their first victimization, and 30% of women were between the ages of 11 and 17. It’s a worldwide problem, and it shouldn’t be. I speak not only for myself when I say this, but for other women who face sexual harassment. Thank you, Sara. Your article was empowering and raw, and hopefully, it ignited the same fire in others as it did in me.