I think one of the jarring things about street harassment for me is that it exists outside of social norms. Whether I'm in my hometown in Maine, or in Philadelphia where I go to school, or Quito, Ecuador where I studied abroad, the style with which street harassment is expressed is distinct from any other type of social interaction that happens between people who know each other or are getting to know each other. It always just comes across as bizarre. But it comes in shades of bizarre, so when old men I've never spoken to on my block tell me I look pretty that's less bizarre than when a man drives down the wrong way of a one-way street to tell me I'm "sexy as shit."
My solution is usually to not engage, and I'll say thank you if I get a somewhat polite comment and no thanks/I'm busy if it's a dinner invitation or an offer to be the father of my child (as was offered to me this morning). I've fortunately never had any super-negative experiences with street harassment, and can usually shake off honks and cat calls (pretty much incessant in Ecuador), but the only time I've really ever felt unsafe was once in a bar in Ecuador when three drunk men would not stop hitting on/calling out to three of my friends and me and I finally told them to shut up and leave us alone, but I definitely would not have done that if we'd been in an alley or something. My question is, if street harassment is so outside of social norms of interaction, how does it become normalized as an appropriate expression by some people (mostly men)?
She replied a few hours later and said, "your analysis and question are making me giddy. :-) Some of the other comments have asked something similar, so I've definitely got this on my list of things to address in future posts."
Street harassment is really jarring. Recently I had a conversation with a feminist, straight, male friend about street harassment, and there was something that he was just not getting about it.
"I get cat-called sometimes," he said. "It's kind of fun. I'd love to have women tell me how good I look all the time."
"Okay, well, I get cat-called like every day. And it's not welcome. We have different power relations with men and women," I said.