As I was walking to the subway this morning, I heard a man call out "Yo! Can I get five minutes wit you?"
He was at least 25 years old, if not older. He wore ridiculously baggy jeans, an over-sized leather Jets bomber jacket (even though it was 60 degrees outside) and a red cap that hid his glaring eyes.
I prepared my retort, assuming this idiot was talking to me. (I always assume any and all cat-calls are directed at me which is a whole other issue that I can explore in another blog entry.)
To my dismay, it was not me that this dude wanted to get five minutes "wit"; it was a 15-year-old girl at which he was directing his creepy rudeness.
The girl briefly made eye contact with the guy and quickly made her way to the train.
The guy continued to call after her "Yo! Yo! I was talking to you! Yo!"
The sound of his voice went from flirtatious to angry. It now had "how dare you" ring to it, as if this girl had no right to deny his request.
Had it not been 9 a.m. and had I not been carrying a $3 Starbucks coffee and had I not been wearing my new Miss Sixty heeled leather boots which are already a bitch to walk in (let alone fight in), I would have kicked this dude right in his balls. That is if he even had balls. I mean why else would one wear pants so baggy unless of course to mask ones lack of size.
I was disgusted and enraged. I mean what the hell did this adult want from this child? Granted it was morning on a busy city street so I guess this man really couldn't do a lot "wit" her. Or could he? Maybe he could lure her into a car or alley? Maybe he'd finagle her address and sneak into her house one night and attack her? Maybe he innocently just wanted to dish about last night's episode of Drake & Josh or discuss what color elastics she would be getting next on her braces? Whatever his intentions, they are wrong because he is a grown-up and she is not.
It's not just this idiot who's prowling the Juniors department at Sears looking for tail. Take Ryan Seacrest, at this weekends Emmys when he made at least three creepy comments about how Heroes star Haden Panettiere was now 18 and "va-va voom in the boom boom" or whatever it is that douchey over-tanned hosts say about underage girls. (I didn't even think Ryan was into girls, but again that's perhaps a whole other issue that I can explore in another blog entry.)
As an often racy and inappropriate comedian, I can take a good dirty joke, but this wasn't a joke -- it was just dirty. Ryan wasn't being funny (partly because he is never funny). Instead it was as though he was doing an impression of what he thought men would like him to be: a careless, over-sexed, dirty dude who was commenting on a hot young piece of ass. The poor girl is there to celebrate her Emmy-nominated work and Ryan turns the moment into something awkward and just wrong.
(Note to Ryan Seacrest: I actually kind of like you. Please don't ruin it by playing the part of a horny chode. But feel free to still act like a hyper, high-maintainence, metro-sexual chode. That's the Ryan we all know and sorta love-ish.)
I'm not an idiot to the whole "barely legal" phenomenon. It seems it's always been expected and acceptable that men can be "dirty old men" and girls are to be "the apple of their gross, sweaty, menacing, nasty, repulsive, eager, pathetic eye." But when does this apparent fetish become dangerous? When does alleged harmless flirtation with underage girls become harmful? Is it that unless Chris Hanson apprehends you on To Catch a Predator then it's no harm no foul?
This blog entry is being written partly by my educated, feminist, adult self and partly by my frightened, insulted, self-conscious teenage self.
I am still angry about the times when, at 12 years old, I'd walk to the park and have men twice my age drove by in cars yelling commentary on the size of my then still developing chest.
I am still scared of the 40-something year man who, when I was 13 years old, approached me and my friend about a "modeling" job and suggested we walk with him to his car so he could tell us more about the opportunity (we didn't go).
And I am still and forever apologetic for all the times as a teenager I didn't call my mother to let her know I was going to be late. I'd come home to her worried and terrified face and say, "Whatever. So I'm late, what's the big deal?" Now I know what the big deal was. As I better comprehend the joy and fear of possibly one day having a daughter of my own, I understand her obsessive concerns regarding my teenage whereabouts and her constant nagging that "there are a lot of bad people out there."
Men still say rude and disgusting things to me. I am not comfortable walking alone at night. I will always be aware and afraid of the fact that I could be assaulted. Luckily, as an adult I am educated enough to keep myself protected as best I can. I usually make good decisions when deciding what strangers are safe and what strangers are strange. I have developed a mature intuition that will hopefully continue to keep me out of harms way.
However a teenager, a girl, a child does not have the experience, the training or the skills to always protect herself. So please, let's all think before we make comments about young girls, or worse yet make comments to young girls.
At age 13, 14, 15, girls haven't had the time to grow up and know who they are yet, why the hell should they waste and risk five minutes "wit" some degenerate creep who clearly has some growing up to do as well?