My Rite of Passage

The first time I was ever cat-called, I was a freshman in college. I was walking back to my dorm at 10:30pm after watching a show performed by people at my school. My mind was racing about the 20 pages I still needed to read in Gulliver’s Travels before I was done with the book and the possible murderer that could be lurking behind any building, bush or tree I passed by. After all, it was pretty dark and I was slightly off campus where there wasn’t much lighting. I kept my right hand in my pocket, grasping my mace spray with a cold, but sturdy hand, my thumb on the trigger. I had never used the spay before- except for that one time I was curious how it actually worked and accidently walked right into the crossfire, causing me to walk away coughing immensely.

It was cold and dark and I had work I still needed to do. I picked up the pace. And, at that moment, a black car drove passed me. A man in the back seat, probably a college student, leaned his head out the window and yelled some things that started with “hey baby” and ended with some inappropriate images I’d rather not repeat.

I immediately crossed over to the gas station, planning to get away, and it worked. However, the damage was done. I couldn’t stop festering about it on the way back.

Why had he done that? Maybe he had been drunk, but that was no excuse. It was a Tuesday night! Maybe he thought that way about women, which made me gag eve more than intended. Was he not paying attention to the media, to the world around us? It was almost impossible to avoid to rallies for women’s rights around the United States.

But at the same time, something inside used his rude comments as a gateway to womanhood.

When I was in high school, I always had friends complaining about how men were always treating them a possession, their body becoming all they were. They wished they weren’t treated that way, but in some ways I was jealous. I wanted to conform to societies norms, to wear booty shorts and crop tops in order to find my worth in a man who didn’t see me as anything other than booty shorts and a crop top. I hated that I wanted this. That I felt I needed to show off myself in order to get confirmation that I was a woman and not a girl. That on some level I was jealous of the girls who were taken advantage of, because at least they had someone who wanted them, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.

And it wasn’t till that cold October night my freshman year that I realized I had felt that way all along. That I had placed my being inside something that wasn’t going to support me or let me grow as woman on the 21st century. And what’s funny is that I hated every girl who wore the crop tops and booty shorts for that screamed confidence to me. I didn’t need my body to be revealed in order to be confident.

I was horrified by my response to his cat-calling. That even though I was mostly disgusted, I also felt a certain sense of pride that someone other than my family thought I was beautiful. What I didn’t realize that beautiful is not the same as hot. That I didn’t need any man or any standard of society to define who I was. The only man who I should change my life for is Jesus Christ. And, He doesn’t care about how ‘hot’ I look.

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Years ago, Camden Rose brought her typewriter across the country to Seattle after completing degrees in marketing and creative writing at Elon University. She fell in love with the city and hasn't left since. She can often be found at the ocean's edge taking notes on the local mermaid population. She loves exploring nature and seeking out the magic hidden beneath the everyday world. Currently, she is working on various short stories, novels, and a master’s in education. You can find her on Twitter @CamdensCorner.

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