Between the catcalls, the uncomfortable stares, or the inappropriate leering — it's all sadly become a regular part of a woman's life, although it shouldn't be. Just this past Tuesday, I was walking home late at night, arms full of groceries when some man drove alongside me on the street, hitting on me via his window for a block. What did I do? I walked into my local laundromat while the man waited outside in his car for five minutes. I joked with the laundromat owner about it. It has become a normal, a blasé situation that is even grossly laughable ("haha, that guy is such a jerk!"), and it's definitely not an isolated incident. About two years ago, I was wearing a dress, walking home late at night on the same street, and some guy pulled up in a pick-up truck, flashed a wad of money, and told me that I'd have the time of my life if I hopped in. I haven't worn that dress, or really any dress, since that event. I took it as not my own fault but something I had to deal with as a woman — brush it off, cover up, and plug in the earphones. I had always thought, "Let's be honest: Guys are going to gawk, and if you don't like it, cover up. It's just a way of life." My friends deal with it, my colleagues deal with it, even my 58-year-old mother deals with it. Just deal, right?
But I've learned that it is anything but normal. A short French film, Oppressed Majority, has been making rounds on the Internet, highlighting role reversal. What if men were the women of the world, or the "oppressed majority," getting catcalled, harassed by groups of women, and having their sexual assault questioned after reporting it to a female officer? I watched the 11-minute film, uneasy, with a weird feeling after thinking, "Damn, we really have to deal with a lot of horrible things."
In the film, the male protagonist takes on the role of a female — he is objectified with catcalls from a rowdy woman, is hit on by a sweaty, topless female jogger, and tells a group of woman harassing him to "bug off." Yet, he is later sexually assaulted by the group in an alleyway. He then goes to a police officer, a female, who doubts his claim. His wife picks him up, comforts him, but then later on dismisses him telling him to "look at the way he dresses." As the wife walks away, the movie transitions into a different scene, a more familiar one, where she is walking alone at night, and takes on the brunt of catcalls and slurs.
The film definitely made me think about what women have to go through on a day-to-day basis and how that is not normal. But will I be wearing a dress anytime soon? I wouldn't count on it.
Either way, watch the film below:
More from Marie Claire: