On Street Harrassment
|This was on everything I owned as a young woman and is still a favorite picture.|
Kathleen Hanna circa 1992 (I was ten).
Many years and one move to one of the country's most progressive cities and I am steal dealing with the same shit, and I am still as pissed off as ever. Actually, I am even more pissed because I have to wonder if I am going to be out to lunch with my own daughter in fifteen years and have to have the same scenario played out.
Today I had to make a run from my office over to one of the sites that I manage. I like to cut through an area by the local news station and as I was doing so I saw a local anchor, over whom my husband and I have an inside joke (he did the same tri as Matty and Matty beat his running time so we like to call him out on it). As I pulled out my phone to text Matty a young guy (definitely younger than me) walked by me and said "yo, whassup", which I just ignored because I was trying to text my husband. He got a little farther past me and stopped, turned around and yelled, "hey, girl, whassup?". This time I stopped, turned to face him and said in a very neutral tone "please stop. I do not like being harassed.". His response: "harassed? Bitch, please".
Right, because I am the bitch for making someone feel uncomfortable, threatened and overall bummed out.
I was livid. I still am livid. And as I walked back to my office next the the police station that is also right there, I almost lost my shit when another man, this time much older, yelled at me, did the "pssst" and then waved when I finally looked up. He got the middle finger wave right back, as I was too shocked to have this happen AGAIN in just a fifteen minute span.
I am a prime target for street harassment. I am tall, noticeably tattooed and a runner, which is like wearing a sign that says "please, honk at me and scare me and make me fear that I am going to be raped in the pre-dawn hours because I choose to train for marathons while my toddler is still asleep in her bed". My tattoos give people an excuse to talk about my body and assume that I had these put on to welcome unwelcome stares and comments. Being a tall woman means my long legs are visible when I wear dresses and skirts, which obviously makes me a slut for showing so much skin. THIS ENRAGES ME.
I try and be active against this behavior; I am quick to respond to men who behave like this with a middle finger or a shout to "please don't harass me". Sometimes I even let them know that I don't like to feel like a rape target in my own neighborhood, or that I am hurrying down the street because I am excited to get home to my husband and toddler and do they have a daughter or a wife?
I have yet to have anyone apologize and am usually just called a bitch for advocating for myself, but I will keep doing it. I will tell men over and over and over that just by virtue of me being outside of the house I am not a willing participant in their bullshit. I will SCREAM it from the rooftop that my running in a tank top down a busy street is not for their enjoyment but because I do not want to sweat to death as I knock off as many miles as I can before going to work, taking care of my kiddo, or spending time with my husband.
This is two thousand fucking fourteen and it was time to stop this shit A LONG TIME AGO.
Please, men and women alike, if you see someone being street harassed, do something. There is a wonderful organization out there called Hollaback that has these awesome tips for bystanders, as well as tips for when you are being harassed yourself (men or women, as I am very aware both genders are victims).
This is a very real problem that affects every woman you know, whether you think it does or not.
Please, please put this into your conscious and help.