My dad made it seem like it was normal to make cat-calls to women on the street.
My father – a former soldier and lady’s man who later became an ordained minister and three time husband – was quite the character. I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I’d like growing up, but every moment in his presence was something to remember, though they weren’t always made-for-television memories.
Big Len, as my father was called by those that knew him best, was a hard-working man who loved beer, playing chess, listening soul music, cooking big dinners, working on the back of a garbage truck, his car(s), his kids – though he had a weird way of showing it sometimes – and women with big breast, thighs and butts.
Whenever my pops – who was either in a marriage or relationship for as long as I can remember – saw a voluptuous woman walking down the street, he’d roll down his car window, turn down his radio – which was usually playing music from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s – and yell out what he perceived to be compliments of the highest nature.
As always, when this was done in front of me, I reminded him he was married or committed to someone. And as always, he would respond:
“Just ’cause a dog is tied to a tree don’t mean he can’t bark.”
I understood what he was saying: looking and speaking ain’t cheating.
He reinforced that principle often to me and after a while I started to not only believe it, I participated in street harassment, too,
So today when I watched the viral, racially biased video of a white woman walking through NYC and receiving cat-calls from black and brown faces, I hunched my shoulders and didn’t see the big deal. Yeah, a few of the guys were a bit aggressive, but overall my initial thoughts were: “these guys were pretty polite.”
But after reading articles and tweets from victims of street harassment and comprehending how it made them feel, I realized not only was I wrong for immediately downplaying the impact of street harassment, my father was wrong for performing it so nonchalantly in front of me.
But the past is the past and I can’t take back the hundreds of cat-calls my dad or I’ve dialed. … the past is the past and all we have is the future.
So moving forward, I’m disconnecting my hotline so that I no longer make outbound cat-calls. And to all my victims of street harassment: I’m sorry… I didn’t realize it was such a big deal.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: Ian Muttoo/Flickr