You Don’t Get To Call Me Cutie, Cutie
The night is oppressive and dark
A tall, muscular man gives me a predatory glance as he drags off his cigarette, “Hey baby”
As natural as clearing his throat
If this were Harvard Square in the middle of the day I’d spit; “My name isn’t baby”
But it’s dark and the streets are empty and I don’t have the luxury of a b-line to the safety of my car
So I grit my teeth and walk on
He stands uncorrected of the fact that he doesn’t get to call me baby
Baby is for my nearest and dearest; my lover, my mother
Not this stranger on this street
On come the teenage boys, three or four of them, fourteen, maybe fifteen at the oldest,
They say it again, “Hey baby”
The skinny one in the stringy boy-beater tank says, “Hey cutie”
I could read their vibe, good kids just messing around, they aren’t bigger than me and don’t seem a threat so I stop and say, “Hey, is that how you talk to women?”
Skinny one is incredulous that I’ve rebuffed his compliment, “I called you cutie, what am I supposed to do? Call you ugly?”
How often do the girls talk back?
I wasn’t supposed to have a voice
The world is your oyster, you’re a boy with a cock
This boy might as well be my student. In fact, I often wonder when a young boy will sexually harass me on the street, look up from my breasts to my face and see I’m his teacher
“First of all, I’m old enough to be your mother, second of all, you should have some more respect for women.”
They walk on.
You don’t get to call me cutie. I should be calling you, cutie.
All 98 pounds of you soaking wet, all of fourteen or 15 years old,
you don’t get to assert your dominance over me, and adult woman.
Women are not objects for your perusal; for you to pick up, comment on and reject at your leisure.
I can take it from some old perv,
but I can’t stand that another generation of young men is growing up learning that any woman
is theirs to comment on, to infantalize, to sample and to toss away.
You don’t get an opinion on whether or not I’m cute.
You are a child.
The bus stop, finally.
A tall, heavyset geek approaches
I brace myself for what he will say
He mashes in his earbuds and ignores me
I fumble for my phone and call Mr. Apple
To tell him I’m at the bus stop. To tell him I’m on my way home,
So if perchance something happens to me he’ll know enough to come looking for me
I hate that I have to do this
Me, “Miss Independence”
That I have to call and tell the benevolent male in my life that I’ll be home in time for curfew
That I drive when I go places at night by myself even though I’d rather ride a bike
That I lock all the doors when I’m home alone
If god forbid something were to happen
“He can’t give you a compliment?”
“What’s wrong with calling you cutie?”
“Well, why were you dressed like that?”
(In a tank top? In the summer? How am I supposed to dress?)
Ever seen that Episode of Buffy, where she temporarily loses her powers?
For one lousy episode she can’t kick the ass of every tool who sexually harasses her
So she just has to ignore it
That’s what it feels to be a chick in the city, every fucking day
If I could get in the personal space of a stranger on the street,
If people had to ignore me starting with them because they weren’t sure if telling me to stuff it would get them beaten up or raped
If I had that power, would I use it?