The first time I experienced street harassment I was an 11-year-old kid, so (sadly) I've grown used to having strangers comment on my body (and what I should do with it). When I got pregnant, I thought, "It'll be nice to have a reprieve from that crap for a few months." Ha. Oh foolish, naive Past Me, unaware of the fact that the kind of dudes who feel fine objectifying you under normal conditions don't let a pregnancy get in the way of their aggressive, macho bullsh*t. In the moment, it's hard to come up with amazing responses to pregnancy street harassment, but that's what I'm doing here today. This is part catharsis, part vindication for my past self, and part a recognition to other pregnant ladies to assure you that a lot of us have been here. It sucks, and you're not alone.
Street harassment can take many forms. Sometimes the men are smooth and soft-spoken. Sometimes they're vulgar. Sometimes they're threatening. Sometimes their aim is only to humiliate. Some get really close on a subway. Some shout from moving cars. However, no matter the method, the aim is always the same: assert dominance over a person and situation on the basis of your gender and theirs. Pregnancy in and of itself leaves many women (certainly yours truly) incredibly vulnerable in myriad ways — in many cases, street harassment only fuels that anxiety. And, of course, it's just really, really annoying.
Like I said, in the moment street harassment can often catch you so off-guard you either choose to ignore it, or are left in a flustered and sputtering string of inarticulate obscenities. But what are some dream ways a gestating gal can respond to inappropriate and unsolicited comments hurled in her direction? Here's a list of some things you may (unfortunately) hear and how to respond:
"There Is Nothing Sexier Than A Pregnant Woman"
"Well someone's never seen the pottery wheel scene in Ghost."
"I Hope That Baby Doesn't Ruin You On The Way Out!"
"OMG me too! Lately I've been reading up on uterine prolapse and fourth degree vaginal tearing! Here, I've brought this medical text full of graphic pictures, so why don't you come look at this with me and we can discuss preventative and restorative measures that can be taken to help allay our mutual concerns? Why are you looking away?! We need to face this together! I thought we were a team!"
"I'll Be That Baby's Daddy"
"Great! Go buy a crib and paint the nursery. Don't forget that child support checks are due the first of the month, bro."
"Damn Girl, Those Curves Are Working For You"
"My pepper spray works for me pretty well, too, so watch it."
"And you're a SPINF: Stupid Prick I'd Never F*ck."
"The Things I'd Do To You!"
"Could you start by rubbing my enormously swollen ankles for about an hour? Oooh! Actually, first, can you run to the store and pick up some hemorrhoid cream?"
"Remind Me To Get At You After That Baby's Born"
"Awesome! Thanks! We're planning on cloth diapering and a dedicated volunteer to launder those soiled diapers would be amazing."
Don't say anything, just start scratching your ass or picking your nose or something a person who catcalls women would probably find disgusting or repulsive. Bonus points if you can fart on command.
"That's One Fine Pregnant Woman!"
"There's one creepy troll."
"You Can Still Have Sex, Right?"
"Actually I'm a virgin."
Then make your most saintly face or start praying in a low, mumbling tone. If you have a bible, make sure to bring that out and start flipping through pages.
"She Must Be Great In Bed, Right Boys?"
"If that's your understanding of how sex works you must be terrible in bed. Right boys?
"I'll Make You Forget You're Pregnant"
"Unless you have an amusing hypnotism act, I'm not interested."
"I Don't Mind That You're Pregnant"
"Yeah, but I do mind that you're a jackass."
"Look At That Beautiful Belly, Oh My God"
"Look at this!"
OK, so none of these are especially practical, and I would urge every woman (pregnant or not) to do whatever it takes for her to get from point A to point B safely. However, didn't it feel pretty good to escape reality for a little bit?