Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unwanted Attention

I know I've dealt with this subject before, but after being wound up by it today I'm going to try and take a different slant to it this time...

Whilst I was walking home for lunch, down my own street, I got "Ciao bella!"'d by yet another random middle-aged man. I had my earphones in, listening to the radio as usual, and the thing is with those earphones is that I can never hear a thing when I've got them in. But I heard him clearly, which made me think that he spoke pretty damn loudly. I turned round and glared at him as he carried on walking down the street. I still get too shocked to say anything, plus I think provoking the randoms won't do me any good.

Nothing I do seems to stop it. I even got "Ciao bella!"'d a few weeks ago when I was in the most tomboyish outfit I own. Today for example I was all wrapped up in a coat, boots and hat, with only a few tufts of unruly blonde hair sticking out. Oh, and a very spotty face. A greasy 15 year old ain't got nothing on me this week. But that doesn't make a blind bit of difference. As much as it baffles me I've learned to put it down to the simple fact of being blonde-haired and blue-eyed. I may not be the only one that exists in Italy, but we are a rare breed. And it seems that if you're blonde in Italy you're automatically seen as being "bella", even if you believe to be anything but that.

It still annoys me though. My defence mechanism involves wearing earphones/headphones around everywhere, most of the time I want to listen to the radio so it works out; but there are times where I'll just have them in and not be listening to anything. At least that way I can pretend I didn't hear anything. I've learned the randoms' tricks, asking for directions, asking for a lighter, staring to get attention; but I've still not got used to it. I feel threatened every time it happens, it may seem harmless, after all, if it was something a friend of mine said to me when they saw me it'd be a perfectly normal greeting. But these are complete strangers, and usually men much older than me. Feeling unsafe in the city I've lived in for three years unsettles me. But unfortunately it's something not only us foreigners, but also Italian women, have to learn to put up with. As much as that annoys me to admit it. Because these random Italian men don't show any sign of growing up any time soon.



Anonymous said...

As Italian girl in Uk, I miss the random "Ciao bella"s in the streets. When I first moved to London, I was thinking to have suddenly become ugly, as I was not getting my usual dose of praises in the streets. Then, confronting myself with Italian expat girl fellows, I just appreciated that it's basically completely out from English culture yell at girls in the street. Maybe it's a fair and less sexist demeanor, still, I miss that little, free self-esteem booster :)

Nerys said...

Ciao! It's strange isn't it? I miss being left alone like I used to in the UK!!