I would grow frustrated and nervous to walk to and from school as a high schooler, in the early 2000s. I would best describe myself, then, as a very conservatively dressed and studious Latina usually wearing a large backpack, casual jeans, my hair tied in a pony tail, and a baggy sweater to hide my large breasts. On a daily basis I would get cat-calls at least twice a day by much older Latino men who took the time to role down their driver’s side window, slow down street traffic, hang out of their truck or car, just to whistle or say, “Hey, mamasita!” All I wanted to do was flash my middle finger, but I was honestly too scared to do such a thing, not knowing what that man may do to me and also because I would usually walk by myself.
What disgusted me the most was the fact that a Latino man, that could have been my father’s age, felt the urge to address me in such a way that was abusive and clearly lacking any human dignity or respect. Because of my experience with constant verbal abuse in public spaces I felt certain that I would one day get kidnapped and raped. Fortunately, that never happened to me.
I am happy that today I no longer live in Southeast Los Angeles, specifically in the city of Cudahy, but I fear for those young girls and women who continue to interface (and some who accept) c
The questions I would pose to all those Latino boys and men are: Why do you think it is okay to cat-call or whistle at a female? Would you do that to your sister, mother, tia, grandmother or family friend?
Location: Clara Street, Cudahy, CA