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The Same but Different

By Jamie Isabel Rosado

I had not realized that place has a big effect on reaction till I wandered through the market in downtown Cairo and someone whistled at me.  Immediately I looked myself over and after rechecking the fact that I was all covered appropriately. I continued on my way though I tried to downplay myself anyway I could.  I kept walking along and eventually decided after the fourth man whistled at me to head back to the bus early.  As I stood in the relative safety of the queue waiting for our bus to return with the others, I began to mull over in my head one important realization that had I been walking down the street any place where I felt I had a solid footing I would have not reacted the way I did to the catcalls and whistles. I have been at Pier 10 , a nightclub in San Juan and been whistled at in much the same manner as I was treated on that street in Egypt.

There are several differences between these two situations; there are also several similarities. Let us analyze the similarities. First off  I was well within the social norms of dress in either situation. Secondly I was not by any means alone in either situation.

The main difference between these two situations was that in the first, the one on my home turf, I knew how to respond. I have yelled at people, made less than polite hand gestures and in one occasion have become physically violent with someone who had touched me inappropriately. On the streets of Egypt however I did not feel comfortable with any kind of response. I would hope that like Farha Ghannam I would learn through trial and error the correct response, if I had stayed longer in Egypt.

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