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Tasty lamb morsels

| Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Let me set the scene. We arrive in Munich, fresh-faced, bursting with the optimism of college kids with a weekend of unobstructed drinking and shenanigans ahead of us at Oktoberfest. Thinking that we are going to take things easy during the day, we head to a market for some lunch. Then, the unthinkable happens. I feel a slight tug on my head and hear a slew of words unrecognizable to my unilingual brain. It took a second for me to understand what was happening, but then I realized that yes, a grown-man did in fact just take my hair into his hands, smell it and say some undoubtedly creepy stuff to me in broad daylight.  This was just the beginning of a weekend that was chock-full of this kind of business. We counted, and were approached seven times in a 20 minute period by males of all ages, either saying vulgar things, reaching out and touching us, or, if they were particularly feisty, both. And this was when we were with a group of male friends. When they would split off to get drinks or food, the onslaught worsened. From proposals, to being forced to tango, to being told we looked like, and I quote, “tasty lamb morsels,” we all agreed that this took the average, every day street harassment we all know and love to a new level.

I suppose a girl should almost be happy with the fact that male behavior towards them is just as bad when they’re in the company of other guys as when they’re not. Some might even call this progressive behavior. This past summer, when visiting Portugal with my cousin, another girl, the behavior we experienced was similar to that in Munich. One night, however, we went out with a 17-year-old male relative of ours, and received zero harassment. We were confused. Befuddled, if you will. What had changed? We did some research and asked some locals. Turns out, the men in Lisbon saw us as the property of this barely-gone-through-puberty boy, respected his rights as our owner, and backed off. So, hey, at least the Germans see us as their property to belittle no matter what, and don’t respect the “rights” of other males we might belong to.

Catcalling (or street-harassment, as it is less affectionately known) has been around for centuries — ever since women started to bare their ankles as an act of rebellion.

I don’t even really know what I am proposing be done to fix dudes being obnoxions, as you’d think if there was an easy solution, it would be done by now. We’ve all heard the ridiculous arguments from those crazy feminists before: teach boys from a young age to respect young women. This seems as if it’s too far-fetched to happen, however, because, as a male classmate of mine once said, “We’re just genetically programmed to do it. Besides, take it as a compliment.” Ladies, seeing as the guys seem to be incapable of overcoming their primate instincts, we might just have to suck it up.

One thing I will say is that we all agreed we had never experienced anything like this back in America, and the paradise that is Notre Dame seemed almost fairy-tale like. The very idea of a person at Notre Dame saying those types of things to another human being was laughable. So, at least we have that going for us.  

It just so happened that I turned 21 this weekend, and a bunch of friends and I went to a club in Munich to celebrate. It wasn’t until about an hour in that we realized that this club was slightly different than the ones we were used to — half of it was a gay bar. Us girls were totally OK with that. In fact, it was a nice respite from the battle of the sexes we had been engaged in all weekend. The guys we were with, however, felt differently. All it took was one man flirting creepily with them to make them uncomfortable and to send them home. Look, boys, I get it. No one wants to be objectified or touched without permission. I can only hope that that night in the club was enough to maybe, just maybe, make the guys think again about what they consider to be “harmless fun.”

From getting “serenaded,” pursued and photographed, to getting inappropriately grabbed by men of all nationalities, to getting whistled at from third-story windows and out of cabs, Germany sure was something. Auf Wiedersehen.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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