I know that it’s incredibly freeing to be a woman, that you feel you have the world at your fingertips and there is no arbitrary unspoken law ingrained into the minds of children and parents since birth that you are inferior, that your dreams and opinions are laughable, and that your value as a person, a worker, and a contributing member of society are assessed only by your ability to please men.
But if you’re interested in experiencing a strange alternate reality, fasten your more-expensive pink seatbelt, grab a helmet to protect that empty little head, and come take a spin down memory lane!
Deep-set in American culture are the “cool” “retro” adult gender roles of yesteryears. These “vintage” “used, like new” societal codes dictate a woman on house arrest; drowning in child-care, brunches, and mild psychosis. What a life! Sometimes I just want to tear up my voter registration! Boy oh boy, would I love to sit down with a sewing machine and some Mother’s Little Helper, and just really take some time to carefully craft my own noose (metaphorical, of course). But don’t fear, dearest darling readers, there are still many places awash with misogyny, internal and external, where we can immerse ourselves. A renaissance faire of sorts.
If you're interested in discovering some hidden hotspots of hate in Northampton, read on!
Yours truly and her female and/or feminine-presenting friends have spent years exploring the area and compiling this list for you, dearest lambchop readers. Prepare yourself to come face to face with the men of our society who have been told, subliminally and explicitly, that women’s bodies belong to them. Somehow, the fact that they’re interacting with you in any way that isn’t them physically murdering you makes them deserving of your time, and they should really get anything in return! A cookie, perhaps…?
Anyhoo, let us Sara, Sabrina, and Sally forth to some prime catcalling locations!
hours: all day, sometimes with breaks from 2-5am
best for: already running late
specialty: aggression, thinly veiled as a compliment
What’s most striking about the atmosphere of this particular stretch of King Street is the empty, hypothetically-under-construction parking lot to the right. If you’re on your way to your minimum-wage job by foot or bicycle, and a phlegmy obscenity lurches at you from the passenger seat of a crusty 2004 pickup, prepare to feel as though the world has dropped away from you on either side. A mouse in a field under the bleary eye of a red-necked hawk, already weakened by hurrying surreptitiously past a display window full of posters of half-naked women, you will try to make your body as small and still as possible to avoid detection in the vast expanse of unprotected asphalt. 9/10!
North Maple Street, Florence, between the bike path and High Street
hours: open all times
best for: a morning coffee
specialty: the element of surprise
A cozy little niche of toxic masculinity, this 9-foot stretch of cracked and rotting pavement never ceases to amaze the casual passerby. This dry elbow of a sidewalk may seem short, but the service is prompt and efficient, earning it the affectionate nickname “The Gauntlet” from the youngsters of Florence.
2pm? 2am? Don’t worry, you are guaranteed to have at least one motorcycle gang drive by and deafen you with the roar of engines and the choked sounds of unhappily married men seeking excitement through their failed growths of facial hair. Noxious fumes complementary, manners extra. 8/10.
The cornfields, Hockanum and Hunts Roads
hours: evenings, weekend and weekdays
best for: dog-walkers
specialty: groups of whooping teenage boys
“Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own.” Wow! Good point, 18th-century writer, lexicographer, and grimacing poser Samuel Johnson! You know what riches she can’t call her own? The 22-44 cents per dollar (depending on her race) that a woman earns and is not paid! A great place to redeem your unpaid wages in idle threats and hacking, dusty coughs is the cornfields/meadows of Northampton, behind the Tri-County Fairgrounds and surrounding neighborhoods. The lowered visibility as you follow the winding roads through the high corn adds to the excitement of this cat-calling experience. (And I’m sure you can imagine the marvelous animal puns!) A hearty 7.8/10.
The intersection of Main, State, and South streets
hours: open 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
best for: waiting for the bus
specialty: indecipherable wails
This is the Bermuda Triangle of street harassment. When you arrive at the large, welcoming location, you’ll feel safe and-- wait. What did he say? Was he shouting at us?! I don’t know what he said, did you hear? I thought it was “hey,” too, but I guess it also could have been “gay” or “babe” or “I’m going to roofie a girl in college but never be convicted or expelled.” 6/10.
hours: best in the afternoons and evenings, but open all day
best for: after a long day
Dearest babycakes apples-of-my-eye readers, let’s take a moment to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes for a few sentences. Men at the bars downtown worked all day at their nine-to-fives, and they just need a couple hours to loosen their ties and inhibitions. When they’re outside having a cigarette after a few brews (and they never have a cig unless it’s after a few brews- Lynn says her yoga teacher says they should watch their health, and Lynn’s yoga teacher keeps it tight), they gather on the sidewalks like clotting blood, preventing oxygen molecules like yourself, or breathable air, from passing through.
This is fine- you may be late getting home to feed your child, but at least you get to pause here and enjoy the concrete scenery as the fibres of your clothes fill with tar and Axe Legend. You will be asked how you’re doing tonight, despite your desperate efforts to look everywhere else but at them, and your meek “fine, thanks” will be rewarded with further probing into your own life.
It was probably the “thanks.” Why’d you say that? You don’t feel thankful. You feel like you just ate a bunch of rocks.
Florence Street, Leeds
hours: afternoons, weekends & weekdays
specialty: slowing down to drive next to you at the pace you walk for an extra-intimate chat
Maybe you’re coming back from a picnic at Look Park, maybe you’re on your way to pick up your little sister at Leeds Elementary, maybe you just needed a jar of Pringles from the gas station. No matter your purpose for walking up the hill, wouldn’t it be IMPROVED by a little EXCITEMENT? Florence St is now introducing an upgraded brand of harassers who are very interested in where ya headed out here, sexy?
While these particular offenders do in fact drive so incredibly slow that you could definitely catch their license plate numbers and call the police, you won’t. What’s the point? What would you say? Is that even a crime? Feels like it should be. You will make a note on your phone to google whether this was a crime, but you will never follow up. 4/10.