Being on the subways and streets of New York while female used to mean walking through a veritable gauntlet of harassment and catcalls. But lately, a curious thing has happened – my world is a much quieter place. The comments and lascivious stares from men have faded away the older I’ve gotten, leaving an understandable sense of relief. But alongside that is a slightly embarrassing feeling of insecurity that, with every year that goes by, I become more and more invisible to men.Congratulations, Jessica. No man wants you anymore. Welcome to the rest of your life.
From the time I was 11 or 12 years old – when I began taking the train to school – I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the worst things men say to girls and young women. There was the man in a business suit who told me to “take care of those titties for me”; the man who – when I was in seventh grade – masturbated in front of me on the subway platform near my home; the man who walked by me in the street, leaned in close, and whispered “I want to lick you” so close to my ear that I could feel his hot breath.
It was miserable. But still, as much as I wish it didn’t, the thought of not being worth men’s notice bothers me. To my great shame, I assume I must look particularly good on the rarer days that I do get catcalled.
I remember the wry look on my mother's face when a girl in her twenties with a very hot body was complaining about how she couldn't go anywhere without attracting attention. "Just enjoy it while it lasts, honey," she said. "It will stop soon enough."