I was a seventh-grade teacher while I was living in New York City, and many of my students were attractive young women who looked a lot more like college students than middle-school kids. Were they getting called out and leered at too?
Lara was in eighth grade. She was very tall and thin, and looked like a supermodel. She knew it, and liked to dress a little too skimpily for my taste. But I love her anyway. We were very close, and I knew if I asked her a question, she’d answer me honestly.
“Lara, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, Katzie, what’s up?”
“When you’re walking around on the street, do random guys call you out and tell you things they want to do to you?”
“OH MY GOD!!! All the time!” I heard a real sense of relief in her voice.
“How does it make you feel?”
“Horrible. Like a piece of meat.”
We talked about the problem for a long time. At the end of the conversation I had really mixed feelings. On one hand, I felt better that I was not the only person who suffered this kind of treatment. On the other hand, I felt a lot worse, because not only did I have to deal with this, but now I realized that my students—middle-school girls—were being catcalled on the street by men who were probably at least twice their age. This, I decided, was NOT COOL. I had to do something about it.