Being on the subways and streets of New York while female used to mean walking through a veritable gauntlet of harassment and catcalls. But lately, a curious thing has happened -- my world is a much quieter place. The comments and lascivious stares from men have faded away the older I’ve gotten, leaving an understandable sense of relief. But alongside that is a slightly embarrassing feeling of insecurity that, with every year that goes by, I become more and more invisible to men.
From the time I was 11 or 12 years old -- when I began taking the train to school -- I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the worst things men say to girls and young women. There was the man in a business suit who told me to “take care of those titties for me”; the man who -- when I was in seventh grade -- masturbated in front of me on the subway platform near my home; the man who walked by me in the street, leaned in close, and whispered “I want to lick you” so close to my ear that I could feel his hot breath.