After being inside for a week when I had dengue, I think I kind of forgot how annoying the men can be in Honduras. At least when a friend asked a couple of days after I was better if it was still bad with men shouting at me, I reassured him that it wasn’t as bad anymore and I can ignore it. Oh, how wrong I was! I really just forgot how ridiculous and frustrating it can be and yesterday really made me realice that – I had been in the market in Comayaguela with my project, doing a presentation about violence, which is about a 10 minute walk away from the office. There was only 3 of us to carry all of the equipment back so I carried the computer – kinda heavy! So there I am struggling with a computer, in the Honduras heat, walking up a hill… and you would think the Honduran men would give me a break. But ohhh no, almost every guy I went past stared at me and made a comment. Really, can’t they just leave me alone when I’m struggling?? Here are a few more examples of how ridiculous the pervy men in Honduras are…
- men slowing down their car to get a good look at you. Especially annoying when it’s a bus and then everyone in the bus gets a good chance to stare… some even hanging out of the windows to say something.
- men actually making the effort to take their sunglasses off to get a better look at you
- men physically touching you and grabbing at you as you walk past – this is one of the worst things
- men, really not subtley, giving their mates nudges as you approach so they can all watch you together and shout things
- the security guard near my house that I have to walk past every morning shouting things at me the entire time I’m in earshot, every. single. day. Do thy never get bored??
- men staring for the entire 30 minute journey to work on the bus and then waiting until I get off so they can come up near me and say something in my ear
- men leaning nearer to me as I walk past so they can say something right in my face
- men who treat me like a human being in my project but as soon as they see me outside of work they say something derogatory. This is particularly annoying as they trick you into thinking they are ‘one of the nice ones’. But they’re not.
- men making the loudest kissing noises at you and making you feel like a cat by going ‘tss tss’ really loudly across the street at you… like you’re really going to suddenly run over to them.
So all of that might sound really awful and horrible but you kind of just have to get on with it and try to ignore it. Everyone says that I will miss it when I go home – but I won’t. When I when to the states for 10 days in August I kind of didn’t notice the difference; I’d already forgotten about it. But as soon as I came back the difference was so noticeable and I just wanted to go back to being invisible again. I know this might be really anti-feminist of me to say but I think in the West we can sometimes be quite ignorant of how far we have come in terms of women’s rights. And while there is still more work to be done, we have it pretty good. The lack of respect for women on the streets of Honduras is awful – we are literally just something to gaup and shout at, whether we’re gringas or not.
The daily abuse can really get you down if you let it so you have to find ways to ignore it. It really helps to laugh it off too – sometimes men make really creepy sounds as you go past, but it makes it easy to laugh at them. I also find it helps to make a game out of it – as a man approaches me, I make a bet in my head about whether he’ll say something. Factors to take into account include what clothes he is wearing (although a man in a suit isn’t always as nice as he looks), how creepy his face is, whether he has family with him (although I have had men with their wife and kids still manage to say something to me) etc. This way, if I have predicted a man will say something to me and he does, I actually feel happy about being right! And when I think they will and they don’t, I feel all proud of the guy and want to run after him and say ‘thank you for not being a typical Honduran creep!’.
Honduran men really do need to learn to keep their mouths shut when a woman walks by and I hope, eventually, they will realise that a woman is never going to be impressed with a guy shouting ‘hey mami, I love you gringa, cosita rica, quiero un besito baby’!
Disclaimer: not all Honduran men are like this of course and I don’t want to generalise… but the vast majority I encounter on the streets of Tegus are sadly 😦