Culture makes our world so very unique but lately culture has been causing me some discomfort. I studied Global Cultures for my undergraduate degree so researching before I travel is second-nature for me, but no amount of research can prepare you for the real experience.
In the United States, us women are unfortunately used to being cat-called while walking down the street or sitting at stoplights in our cars and we all have our own ways in dealing with it. We either ignore the disgusting comments being thrown our way and walk by with our head held high or we turn and give those boys a taste of their own medicine. ‘Cat-calling’ takes a whole different form in BiH, it’s a quiet form of cat-calling. Young men tend to stare, and not discreetly either; they tend to look at you up and down as if they are evaluating every inch of your body, but they say nothing to you. How do you react in a situation like this? Do you just walk by and ignore the stare? Or do you say something? If I was in the US I would definitely be giving these men a piece of my mind, but here in Sarajevo that does not seem to be the case. I have taken to observing local women and how they react to the leers of men and many of them do not react at all, they just go about their day. Then I ask myself, what would I even say to these men?
I have also noticed a difference in how older men (fathers/grandfathers) look, or don’t look, at me compared to younger men. Is it out of respect because I could be the same age as their daughters and granddaughters? Or is it the culture of their age?
But of course, this is not only contained to Sarajevo. Looking back on my life experiences in the US all this happens at home also. Everything just seems exacerbated since I am living in a new city and country.