I was in the hospital, and after that, in bed for days.
My first walk outside my apartment in almost a week was greeted by soft wind, a bright sun, and pleasant temperatures. It felt like heaven.
Until my peace was interrupted by YOU. A leering, shouting from the other side of the sidewalk, CREEP old enough to be my grandpa. And YOU, teenage boy who should be in school right now, but who instead is smacking and sucking his lips at me. And YOU, delivery guy who brought his bike close enough to almost run over my dog for the purpose of spitting some unintelligibly ugly words my way.
3 catcalls/harassments/comments (what do you call these?) in about 5 minutes – welcome back to the real world of Rio de Janeiro.
I am sick of you.
Yes, you – with your rude gestures, your obscene comments, and your grabbing hands.
Whether on the way home from a class, leaving the grocery store, or heading to work – your disrespect is constant and inescapable.
It doesn’t matter what clothes I wear, or if I stop putting on makeup, or if I actually attempt to look as unappealing as physically possible. And I’m not alone.
Please, if not for the sake of respect for women (which is apparently an alien concept to you), then reign yourself in for your own self respect and efficacy. YOUR WAYS DON’T WORK.
I’ve talked to foreign girls, Carioca girls, girls visiting from other parts of Brazil.
The least pleasant part of this city?
Yes, you may be physically beautiful and possibly even smart and charming, once you open your mouth up long enough to form something other than a sucking noise or a guttural moan – but who would know?
Your actions are ugly and they cover up any potentially positive traits.
Likely, you learned this behavior from your father, and he from his, judging from the number of men my father and grandfather’s age that have propositioned me.
Make this end with you. Think of your own sister, your mother, your future daughter – take a minute to think of someone OTHER than yourself. Imagine how uncomfortable and impossible it is to walk on the streets unescorted – not because this is Saudi Arabia and law demands it but because of men like YOU.
If that does nothing for your sense of decency, at least consider your own benefit. The Olympics are fast approaching, and the city will soon flood with thousands of visiting women from every part of the globe. Revise your M.O. Use the confidence that obviously isn’t in short supply and strike up a conversation. Maybe you’ll strike out. But maybe you won’t.
No matter the outcome, at least the visiting girls will go home with something better to share than “Rio was beautiful… but the guys are total creeps.”
*Please note, this letter does not apply to all men in Rio. I have several amazing, exemplary male friends who I am proud to know, and I am sure there are many more. Sadly, the most vocal and visible part of the men in Rio belong to the group I’m speaking to above.*