THE BLOG
11/06/2014 05:51 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2015

Let's Not Forget The Point Of The Catcalling Video

Chad Springer via Getty Images

Let's cut through the noise.
Let's forget about race and go back to the basics.

The essence of the viral cat-calling video needs to be addressed, and it is being watered down by all of these other discussions that while important are not the point. As a black Hispanic woman it really matters to me that cat-calling needs to be addressed, and stopped. And while yes, the intersection of the issues cannot be ignored, the issue itself cannot be ignored either.

A little background about me that I love to share: I was born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in Spain and now live here in the United States.

My earliest memory of a cat call was when I was 8 years old, and skinny as a twig. My mother and I were in Dominican Republic for a visit, and she'd taken me to a hair salon to get my hair blown out (temporarily straightened). My now bone straight hair was swinging down my back, and as my mother and I walked down the street back to my grandmother's house, a man addressed my mother, "Doña, que Dios le bendiga su hija" or "God bless your daughter." A beautiful sentiment, but... there was an undertone to it, and even at 8 I could pick it up. The way he said it was... weird. Just like now I can pick up when a man says "Hello" with sexual undertones, I could pick up that there was something wrong with how he said what he said back then. I could tell my mother picked up on it as well, because her face hardened, and she simply nodded at the man.

Fast Forward to me being 12 years old, walking in Mallorca with my best friend. We lived a block away from each other and we'd oftentimes walk from our apartments to the Cathedral, and then to the beach to watch the waves crash against the rocks. Men would call on us from their cars. From the constructions sites. From the balconies in their apartments. I'd become enraged. At 12 I knew this was wrong, and I'd yell back at them "Viejo verde! Pervertido!" and flip them off. "Perverted old man!" And they were. I looked younger than 12. I was still skinny as a twig, not a womanly curve in sight. I couldn't articulate it then, but at my core I know that the sexualization of my body that they were engaging in was wrong.

Now here, in the States, in NYC, in Florida, wherever. The same thing occurs. The same things you watched in the video. Once, I went out with some friends for a birthday and walked to my car by myself to pick up something. My friends stood back, a few feet away. About eight guys, walking in a group, approached me. The surrounded me, and tried to convince me to give them my number. I wasn't worried, as my friends were nearby, but it was still an uncomfortable experience. At other times I've been cussed out for ignoring men's advances. I know a lot of other women have experienced worse.

So yes, the video was wrongly executed and edited, and I strongly stand by that statement. However, this does not eliminate the larger problem, which is that street harassment is a big issue.

I've been catcalled since I was 8, in three countries and in two continents. Please read that again. And then again.

This belief that enough men have, that simply because we exist as women in this world, they have the right to engage with us in a way that holds sexual undertones (or overtones, in some of these cases) is a problem. The belief that we must engage back, is a problem. The fact that it happens at all, is a problem. You know women get attacked, cussed out, killed, if they stand up for themselves? The fact that this is happening at all is a problem. So no, #NotAllMen cat call, and definitely not only Hispanic and black men, but #YesAllWomen deserve to walk down the street in peace, and this is a point that we need not forget.