What I Think About Machismo - This American Girl

Grananda, Nicaragua Calazada


I will never forget the first time I felt small, like I wanted nothing more than to hide, like I was less of a person, because of the attention of a man.


I was twelve years old walking home from a day at the lake with friends. It was late in the afternoon in the suburbs of Seattle. I don’t remember how I looked or what I was wearing but considering my age and rate of development I imagine I appeared innocent and slightly dorky.


Walking the streets of the town I called home, I experienced what we refer to in my country as “cat calling”. A response I, like all women, have begun to expect when walking alone.


Granada, Nicaragua street


The honking I could tolerate. The indiscernible shouts I ignored. But after walking for nearly three hours on busy streets, sweaty and exhausted, it was the man who stuck his head out of his car window and exaggeratedly blew me a kiss as he whizzed by, that finally collapsed my spirit.


Since then I have been shouted at on streets across the world. I have been followed by men for blocks. I have been begged for sex, companionship, a dance, and conversation.


Granada, Nicaragua street


A stranger stuck his hand up my skirt when I entered a crowded bar in Belize.


In Mexico I stood in an ATM next to a man pleasuring himself.


Walking midday in midtown clad in professional attire, an American whispered words dirtier than the streets of Manhattan into my ear as he rounded the corner.


Yesterday a man stroked my arm as I passed him on the street in Granada. Two teenagers smacked my butt as they rode by on a bicycle.


Granada Nicaragua market


And somehow it has all felt so disturbingly normal.


I lower my head and divert my gaze.

I try desperately to become invisible.

I tug at my shorts.

I absorb the shame that these men are somehow unable to summon.


Granada Nicaragua market


I expect police officers to undress me with their eyes.

I barely hear the whistles, the “mami”s, and the “guapa”s these days.

The exaggerated glances, the mumbled “wow”s, and the persistent “hola”s have become a simple nuisance in my navigation of the world.


Day after day I endure it.

All because I am a woman.


Leon Nicaragua


Now, in Granada, Nicaragua, where the looks, the whispers, the shouts, the touches are more incessant than any place I have ever been, I just can’t take it anymore.


Let’s try that again.

I refuse to take it anymore.

And you should too.


So, to the men out there who bother, follow, touch, shout at a woman who has the courage to be and walk alone, listen up:


Leon Nicaragua


I refuse to accept that a smile or a glance is an invitation for you to stalk me.


I refuse to consider how my attire will affect your libido.


I refuse to travel with a man simply to avoid your overt attention. News flash: I don’t belong to him either!


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I refuse to pretend I don’t hear your disgusting remarks. I will respond and it will not be pleasant.


I refuse to listen to your wants and needs and decline them politely hoping to not offend you.


Leon Nicaragua


Instead I will tell you exactly what it is that I want.


I want to enjoy my walk, my swim, my coffee, my cocktail, my book


you and your conversation.


Contrary to what you think, I want to be alone. I choose to be alone.


Granada Nicaragua school girls


And what do I think about your machismo?


It is not cool.

It is not manly.

And it most definitely is not hot.


Leon nicaragua cathedral


So please

just stop.



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