I was walking down the street today when somebody stopped at a stop sign to my right honked. I looked.
The driver was a youngish man who I didn't recognize. He had a few passengers in the car, probably parental units. The driver was looking back over his shoulder at me, but made no gestures to help me deduce the meaning of his honk. "Hello"? "Hi, I met you last week..."? "Ooops, sorry, you looked like Ginny"? "Can you give me directions"?
Baffled, I decided to continue on, but I wondered about that for quite a long time. I'm still wondering. Maybe he just wanted directions, but sorry, I wasn't going to find out.
When I was twelve, I started running track and cross-country. I was amazed at the number of cars that honked at me. For a while, I thought that it was people I knew, but when I looked, it wasn't. I wondered if maybe it was people who thought it was cool that a woman was out jogging, but that didn't feel quite right either. I wondered if maybe it was chauvanists who didn't think a woman should be out jogging, but if so, then to heck with them. It also didn't make sense to me that they might be trying to pick me up because
- they never stopped, and
- I was not only twelve and scrawny, but also frankly pretty homely.
Years later, a male friend with an abundance of testosterone explained that men honked at women to try to get them to turn around, to see their faces. "You can't tell how good-looking they are from the back, so you want to get a front view." For some reason, I find this believable, even though it also seems strange. (Isn't that what rear-view mirrors are for?)
Of course, there are even less savory things that men do from cars. When I was a senior in college, a woman was forced into a car less than a block from where I was sleeping at the time, and gang-raped in the car. In my home town right now, there is a sexual predator on the loose. (Fortunately, he's not particularly good
at it -- he's been scared off several times when trying to haul a young girl into his car.)
The guy honking today probably just wanted directions. He probably wasn't trying to check me out (at 40?!?) or going to haul me into his back seat and rape me, not with his mother and father chaperoning. But today's young man was, sadly, a victim of other men's previous bad behavior.