Last Wednesday was a surprisingly sunny mid-February day. It was unusually warm and the breeze mixed with chirping birds made me pause and appreciate the weather as I was walking off campus and down the sidewalk to my car. Suddenly, a red SUV whipped out of a side street and began barreling up the road toward me, interrupting the beauty of the day.
It did not stop there. The red SUV pulled up beside me, where four men proceeded to yell obscenities at me. I was shocked. This kind of thing had never happened to me. I’ve seen it in the movies, and I have heard it from my friends, but this certainly could not be happening to me.
I started to take stock. What had I done to these men that made them want to target me? Walking. I was walking. I was walking as a woman, alone on the street in the middle of the day.
I continued walking down the sidewalk, ignoring them as they yelled and then sped away, surely to torment another. Later, after I processed this incident, I shared with my boyfriend what had happened. He was appalled and started explaining what he would have done if he was there.
But that’s the catch — if he was there, it would not have happened. Those men yelled at me because I was alone, and no one would catch them. Because to them, I was not going to do anything to retaliate against them.
Moving past this incident and looking at the bigger picture, it is imperative to consider: what gives someone the right to target another? On this fine February day, someone decided that they did not owe kindness to me. They decided that they had the power to tear another down.
If you were one of those men, or perhaps a person who happens to harass people on the street on occasion, I hope this reaches you. Maybe you will go home and see your mother, sister, wife or daughter and rethink the world you foster for them to live in.
Forget the fact that those women are important people in your life and realize that women are human beings. This incident is not about “toxic feminism” or men vs. women, it is about human decency. Everyone is owed at least that.
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