Old Jessica Valenti, June 3, 2014:
[O]ver the years, like a lot of young women, I endured ass-grabs, disgusting come-ons and a range of hisses, whistles and stares. For a long time, I thought there was something about me that invited the unwanted attention: it took until adulthood to realize that it was the common cost of being female in public spaces….
Because while street harassment is just one of many violations that American women endure, its prevalence is a clear message to women and men: there are no safe spaces for women. We need to be able to walk the street and simply be in public without fear. Not just for equality, but because, one day, I'd like my daughter to take the subway to school.
New Jessica Valenti, July 20, 2015:
The comments and lascivious stares from men have faded away the older I’ve gotten, leaving an understandable sense of relief. But alongside that is a slightly embarrassing feeling of insecurity that, with every year that goes by, I become more and more invisible to men.
[A]s much as I wish it didn’t, the thought of not being worth men’s notice bothers me. To my great shame, I assume I must look particularly good on the rarer days that I do get catcalled.
Oooh, the delicious irony! One of America's most rebarbative feminists (Valenti is the gal who won't wrap Christmas presents for her family because that's oppressive) admits that she misses all that supposedly unwanted attention from men! It's hard not to indulge in a teaspoon of schadenfreude: Weren't you always secretly annoyed at your busty blonde friend in junior high constantly complaining about all those darned paper airplanes the boys in her class were shooting in her direction when the teacher wasn't looking? Didn't you wish she'd shut up already–or that some boy would shoot a paper airplane at you for a change?
Of course, since she's Jessica Valenti, it's all our misogynist '"culture"'s fault:
But when you’re brought up to feel that the most important thing you can be is attractive to men, the absence of their attention – even negative attention – can feel distressing….
I know that my reaction is normal, considering the culture I’ve grown up in, as much as I know that my self worth does not depend on what strangers think. But I do wish there was more nuance in conversations about aging, beauty standards and feminism – room enough to admit without shame the complicated feelings we can have about it all.
Actually, it would be nice if one of those "conversations" pointed out that, while feels, gropes, and and exposings by strangers are criminal and ought to be, there's a reason why women enjoy male attention in public. And it's not "cultural."