As I waited at some traffic lights on my Tuesday morning cycle to work, a taxi driver leant out of his window, said something incomprehensible, and tried to grab me.
Later that day, as I walked around central London, three different men catcalled me.
I wish I could tell you I was surprised. Although this was a high number of such interactions for one day, these incidents are not unusual for me or my female friends.
I told a male friend, and he was horrified. In contrast, my female friends rolled their eyes and shared stories of similar experiences, including being groped by a stranger on a crowded train that morning.
All this in the week that Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexual harassment by a string of actresses.
All this in the week that newspapers pick up the story of a 21-year-old girl who has taken a selfie with every man who has catcalled her in the past month, and posted them on Instagram.
All this in the week of the International Day of the Girl, which aims to increase awareness of the issues faced by girls around the world.
Street harassment, catcalling, and unwanted sexual advances are just a few examples of these issues, but they are examples which are closer to home than we might realise. The horror and disbelief that my male friends express when I tell them of incidents such as Tuesday’s shows limited awareness. The knowing nods of my female friends show the reality of these occurrences in their daily lives.
I don’t expect to change the culture of catcalling with a single post. I don’t expect that the men reading this yell at women in the street, or grab them on public transport. But I do expect many to be shocked that this is a regular occurrence in the lives of their female friends, colleagues, and relatives.
So, let’s continue the conversation. As Christians, we have a duty to be paving the way and being mouthpieces for truth and justice.
Guys – ask the women in your life for their stories, and listen with an open mind. Ask them what you can do to make a difference. Pray for them. Speak out against objectification wherever you find it.
Fellow females – let’s not keep the stories to ourselves. This shouldn’t be so normal that we stop bothering to mention it. Speak up, speak out, and don’t be ashamed.