I often find it hard to articulate my reactions to catcalling or unwanted male attention of any kind. I find myself filled with anger, frustration, and utter confusion as to how someone could think it’s okay. The overarching theme the second half of my time in New Orleans was a complete avoidance of men, yet they always found a way around.
Our first night in the city, being shown around by an old friend we were encouraged to talk to the locals, “everyone here is so friendly,” he said, “they really love talking to tourists, telling them about what makes this city so great.” It just so happens that night we met an incredibly friendly couple which supported his advice; we talked to them for hours and they gave us tons of suggestions of restaurants, what neighborhoods to visit, and what to avoid.
So we set out with an unspoken goal; to talk to strangers and get the local’s view of NOLA.
This started out quite well; a fellow traveler at brunch, some college kids at the art museum, musicians on Frenchman.
Then Friday night we came upon those same musicians we had talked to the night before. However, instead of a hello I was greeted with a puffed chest and a “hey girl come over here”. Realizing he probably didn’t remember me, I ignored him, kept walking, and was followed by the blare of a trumpet behind me. This was a breaking point. So far our conversationalists and catcallers had been separate groups, but here they merged. A man who had talked to us like regular people the night before, asking about our pizza, was now blowing his trumpet down the street because I didn’t respond to his aggressive advances. I have a consistent mood of being fed up with men, but this really got to me and solidified my thinking they really do all just want something from us. I know this can be dangerous generalized thinking, however it seems I can’t ask where the best daiquiri in town is without the assumption that he is invited to join.
We were approached by another couple of men on our last night and my sister told them about our trumpeter experience. They obviously reassured us that everyone is just friendly, it must be just another tourist, no one who lives around here is dangerous, we’re all just so nice, blah, blah, blah. And to them I say that they will never understand; north or south a man yelling at me on the street is not neighborly. Women can hear it in the tone of voice when a man just wants something from them verses someone actually saying hello.
Everyone said the town was friendly, but where is the line and do men even realize that they’re crossing it?
Healthy Reminder: Be safe out there my fellow gals and gays.