I loved every dog that crossed my path until a few weeks ago. Big, small, fluffy or shorthaired, I wanted to pet every single one of them. I usually asked the owners if I could, then gave them pats on the head.
Then, during finals week, I decided in a flash of motivation to go to Starbucks and finish my final paper early. I packed my laptop in my backpack, braided my hair and walked out of the door.
I can see the coffee shop from my house, so it only took me five minutes to get to the corner of busy Main Street. During my walk, I noticed a cute medium-sized dog trotting a few yards in front of me.
When I approached the corner, the dog and its elderly owner were standing there. I had to edge past them to reach the doorway. As I did so, I gave the cute dog a little wave.
I didn’t have time to react before its teeth sunk into my left thigh. I felt a sharp pinch but felt paralyzed and helpless standing there. I had never once feared this might happen, so I wasn’t prepared for it.
While the dogs teeth chomped further into my skin, I looked up at the owner with pleading eyes. After what seemed like five minutes, he finally pulled the long leash and scolded the dog. Then he walked away as I stood there, face burning and leg throbbing. I was wearing thin leggings and I didn’t know what my leg looked like underneath yet. I walked into Starbucks in a daze, and was going to still try to do my homework until I looked up at the long “Frappe Happy Hour” line and saw nearly every person staring at me. Some were even smirking. The large picture windows surrounding the building gave them a full view of the attack. Yet no one said a word to me. Not one, “Are you okay?” or “Did that dog just bite you?”
So I limped out the door and fell apart. The shock, pain and general disregard afforded to me by everyone that day made me feel worthless and embarrassed. I didn’t want to leave my house for the rest of the day.
That same feeling rushes over me nearly every time I walk down my street. Granted, I do live on College Avenue, the home of frat houses and College Fest. But I still shouldn’t have to put up with the “Whore!” and “Bitch!” screams (and worse) every single time I walk to the end, regardless of what I’m wearing, which shouldn’t matter anyway.
Usually, the calls come from houses with at least five shirtless frat monkeys hanging around on the front porch. It seems this is a ritual that the men do to gain acceptance and approval from their gorilla peers.
The worst part about the catcalling is there is no good way to react to it. If you shout something back at them, their fire will be fueled. They will say, “Man, she really is a bitch,” even though you were simply standing up for yourself.
If you ignore them, they will probably continue to do the same thing to every female who walks by. I don’t believe there’s anything a victim can do to stop the behavior. The change needs to come from within.
If just one friend says to the cat-caller, “Hey man, that’s not cool. You don’t even know her,” then maybe, just maybe, the man will stop doing it. But most likely, the rest of the men will gang up on that defender and call him a “pussy.”
All I ask is for a day when I don’t have to worry about walking past dogs or men on a porch. That will be a happy day.