There I was walking in downtown Jacksonville when it happened. It was in the mid-morning hours. The weather was mild; skies were clear. I was wearing a business suit, carrying court files as I was returning to my office from the courthouse. Mentally, I was thinking about the tasks that awaited me that day. There would be many. My thoughts, however, were interrupted by sounds coming from across the street. I turned my head to look. It was happening. The construction workers across the street were catcalling me. How embarrassing! At that time, I was only one year out of school. I was still learning the landscape of my profession and new environment. The family I had in the city, I did not really know. At times it was lonely, but I was making new friends while trying to balance the stresses of adulthood. The last thing I needed was to be sexually harassed, publicly humiliated, and degraded for being a professionally-styled woman. My feeling of embarrassment quickly turned into being livid. What was their point, really? Was such attention really supposed to entice me to scurry across the street, distribute my telephone number, and wait anxiously by the telephone…or was I supposed to ask for their numbers and call them? What happened to being my knight in shining armor? Oh, the stories little girls are told.
While looking forward, I acted like I did not hear them. They continued. There were a couple of gentlemen walking on the same sidewalk as me. They did not challenge the construction workers though, nor did they say anything to me. I would soon be in my office building. I would soon be safe.
You know, I never shared this experience with anyone prior to this blog entry. When I entered the building that day, I went about working as normal. Although I wondered if such thing had happened to any of the other women I was working with, I never asked. I bet it had and we were just not talking about it. The silence of being victimized does not negate the experience. The memory is already impressed.