Street harassment can be annoying, scary, demoralizing, embarrassing, infuriating, and bewildering, but street harassment while pregnant takes those feelings to the next level. It's really sad that, as a woman, I have come to expect men to comment about my body and express their perceived entitlement to it. I didn't, however, expect to hear it as much once I had an obvious baby bump. I was wrong.
The fact is, catcalling and street harassment have little to do with how a person looks or what they are wearing. Instead, it's about how men feel entitled to women's bodies and the prevailing idea that we are here for the benefit of the male gaze. I think it's partly due to rape culture and our society telling boys they "will be boys," essentially letting them off the hook for bad behavior, and partly due to insecure men and boys trying to fit into the hyper-masculine mold they think society has created for them. People just want to be "cool," and society has taught most people that it's "cool" to objectify and sexualize women. Now that I'm a mother, I know (all too well) that men's sense of entitlement to women's bodies does not end when they are pregnant. For me, the fear, doubt, and shame of being harassed on the street is much, much worse when I'm pregnant. Growing a human being inside your body is hard enough, without feeling even more self-conscious, vulnerable, and afraid.
I am pregnant right now, and often wonder what my baby would want me to say or how they would want me to respond to street harassment. I think it would sound something like this: