In January 2017, I got called ‘sexy’ and asked to ‘call me’ by an older man while walking with a group of three-year-olds in downtown D.C. Not only was I disgusted with this man, who happened to be a construction worker working on the school that the three-year-olds went to, but I was ashamed of what I was wearing. Jeans, a tank top, and a flannel.
Percentage of Women who Experience Street Harassment Before Age 17
I was wearing what any teenage girl would call a normal and unrevealing outfit but it ended up objectifying me in the worst way possible. I felt unsafe and unprotected in my clothing, my body and overall, myself.
The next day when I saw that man again, he made an obscene gesture with his hands and one of the kids saw it. She asked, “Miss, what is that man doing with his hands?” I said, “Nothing. Just ignore it.”
I didn’t ignore it. I went home that night and researched what to do when I get catcalled. The one article said to grip my keys through my fingers and walk faster. Why? To protect me from getting raped.
A few months later, March 2017: a woman at my school spoke up about her sexual assault. She spoke with such fear and agony that she couldn’t get the words out without tearing up.
A month later, February 2018: I created an organization called It’s Mine to Share.
A Rapist's Relationship to the Victim
What this mini-timeline should say is that this organization wasn’t an overnight idea. For months before the original catcall, I worked with a group called Learn Serve International (LSI). LSI is a non-profit organization that centers on allowing young teens in the DMV area to branch out and create their own organization in the name of social entrepreneurship. I spent months trying to find the right topic for my project and these three instances brought me to my decision.
Overall, if you are to get anything out of It’s Mine to Share, I hope you get some love, healing, and community. I needed some love when I was being catcalled. I needed to heal after I was shown obscene gestures by a man twice my age. My friend needed a community when telling her story.