Street Harassment

Disclaimer: There are swears in this post. I tried to edit them out, but they are what really express my feelings. I apologize in advance.

Spring is beautiful. It really is. It’s so exciting and refreshing after a long winter. I love going out to the beach to walk or run, or grab ice cream, and watch all the people going by. The runners who haven’t been out since last fall, the moms finally freed from their living rooms with their toddlers, the smokers on break from work…

And the jerks who whistle at you or touch you.

Who decided that the first beautiful week of Spring was obnoxious week? I was out for an hour today on the walk next to the beach. It was great. I had my headphones in listening to “Serial” and was thoroughly enjoying it.

Sidebar: So many people have told me over the last few months that I should listen to this Podcast. Somehow I never did. Until today. It’s so good! Usually I have trouble following stories just by listening, but this has me hooked and understanding everything! Go listen to it. Right now. Or when you’re done reading.

Anyway, there I am walking along and a huge shadow fell over me. I looked over my shoulder and it was this giant bean pole of a man walking by. He seemed perfectly nice, waved and gestured about the weather, I smiled and nodded and went on my way. Well, a few minutes later he was coming back my way. He stopped me and got me to take out my headphones and asked if I walk to workout. I said I was just walking for fun. He said basically oh, ok, and punched me on the shoulder and moved on. I don’t know why, I don’t know where that came from. I’ve never been touched by a stranger like that before. Sure, I’ve been “accidentally bumped into” on the T and stuff, but never actually touched with a hand. It was weird. I kind of shrugged and moved on.

A little while later I was texting my boyfriend and someone whistled at me. I’m mad at about that for two reasons. First: I was whistled at. I hate that. It’s rude. Second: I was looking at my phone so I couldn’t see who whistled, so I didn’t know who to flip off. Because yes, it may be rude to flip people off but it’s even more rude to whistle at a woman on the street.

Who decided it was appropriate to alert a woman, and all the people around her, that you noticed her? Why is that necessary? How is it that men think they are entitled to every woman’s body they see? No, a whistle is not a grope, but it comes from the same place. Every time someone whistles, shouts, honks at me I feel a little cold for a second. What if that whistle was asking for my number, following me to my car, insisting that my ignoring him was rude and cause for violence?

I’ve had people say I’m overreacting when I talk about how scary street harassment is. “Just take it as the compliment it was and move on. It was supposed to make you happy.”

Nope. That is not how that works. I don’t care if those men think they’re going to make my day by “complimenting” me. Why the fuck would my day change for the better simply because some guy made it clear that he noticed what I look like? Who cares? I do not live and breathe by male approval. I am my own person, with or without a man near by, and I approve myself thank you. So no, I will not take those rude interjections as compliments. They are assertions of power and I take them as such.

It’s scary that random people are comfortable enough to express themselves this way. How am I supposed to tell if they are harmless or not? It’s awful.

So today, instead of thoroughly enjoying my walk and listening to the beginning of a murder mystery without a second thought, I enjoyed my walk and was interrupted by jerks who feel entitled to me and my personal space.

Next time I’m flipping the bird regardless of if I see where it comes from.

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Thoughts, brought to you by Tony Soprano

Do you ever think about the how T.V. dramas are therapy for everyone?

Consider this. You’re watching your favorite show (I’m currently marathoning “The Sopranos”). Everything is fine and dandy and then someone makes a bad life choice. It’s so bad, and so obvious, that you see it coming three episodes before it happens. You yell at your T.V., you rant with your friends and family, you feel betrayed and upset by a fictional event. If you pause in that emotional moment you may feel something else.

Superiority.

You would never make that mistake/say that thing/sleep with that person. You know better. You can tell the characters why it’s a bad idea, why they were driven to that action… As viewers we can analyze everything that happens in the show. We know the characters better than we know our family or ourselves because the characters don’t lie to us. We see their actions, so even when Tony lies to Carmela we know the truth. We were there. And because we know those truths we can see why things happen. We can see an entire mob directed by one person, and it’s never the person who thinks they’re in charge.

I love seeing the cause and effect in T.V. shows. I suppose it’s partially because it makes me feel in control of my life, but it also gives me that feeling of superiority. It’s like looking back on college and seeing all the choices I made, and knowing that I won’t make those choices again. I’m smarter and more mature than that now. T.V. is like that for me. I can see all those choices the characters make, and I know I would never make them. I am better at communicating than that, I am better at relationships than that, and if I were friends with these people I could tell them they are making bad decisions.

T.V. shows become popular because they are entertaining, but also because they appeal to us. Something in the show is familiar somehow. The middle aged father who doesn’t know how to express himself to his family, the old grandmother who feels like her time is up, the mom who just wants to be appreciated and loved. These characters are familiar, but they are caricatures of real life. They are symbols of what everyone comes across in their lives. We enjoy watching them because we know them and also feel smarter.

What if we took that feeling of superiority and used it? What if we took a moment to assess why we feel smarter than those T.V. characters and use it in our own lives? Instead of “oh, I could never tell my boyfriend/wife/partner/sister/friend that”, what if we thought about why we could never say it? Maybe the things we could never say are the things that are the most important?

So the next time you want to yell at your T.V. because Meredith Grey is about to do something stupid (because let’s face it, she rarely comes out of her dark and twisty place), think about why it’s so important to you that she not do it. Maybe it’s just that you are emotionally invested in her character because the writers have been cultivating your relationship with her for several years. But think about that. Why do you care? It might tell you something interesting.

Or it might just say that you are very invested in a T.V. show. That’s an ok answer too.

Springtime

It’s getting to be that time of year. The ground is mushy, there are patches of snow (but in most places there is FINALLY more brown than white!), the average temperature is above 30, and the birds are chirping up a storm. But, most important of all:

REENACTING SEASON IS UPON US!

It is the time of year when what I do for fun is actually cool for a minute! We are gearing up for Patriot’s Day, that wonderful day where Boston is off work for the marathon but really we’re commemorating the Battle of Lexington and Concord. As a Concord native (no, I don’t live there anymore) and a history nerd I adore this time of year. It makes me feel special and like I’m from somewhere that matters. But let’s face it, I really actually love it because I can correct people who believe myth over fact. I love being right.

I hate that people think we have that Monday in April break off because of the marathon. THE MARATHON HAPPENS THEN BECAUSE IT’S A HOLIDAY! Grrr….

This year I won’t be in the reenactments for Battle Road. This year I am sad. It’s for a good reason though! I’ll be in rehearsal for MCV, because we are preparing for going to Nova Scotia this summer for the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo!!! I’m super excited about that (my poor tendinitis-y wrists and arthritic toe hate me, though), but it’s always weird to not go to the Battle Road reenactment. At least I have the usual parades that Monday, otherwise I would be TOTALLY confused and lost in the world.

I’m not sure why I love this stuff so much. Part of it is it’s the only time my patriotism actually gets sparked. July 4th? Nope. 9/11 commemorations? While very meaningful and sad, and important to remember, it doesn’t spark my pride. Patriot’s Day in April though, boy oh boy do I get pumped up. I’ve always been that way. When I was little I would practically count the days between my birthday (January) and April 19, and then I would figure out if the Monday holiday would actually occur on the 19th….

Yes, I know, I didn’t have a life. Still don’t, really, since I spend most of my time in rehearsal and sewing new clothes for reenacting…

I’m pretty sure the only reason I have friends at this point is because they all do the same weird hobbies I do. Thank goodness the boyfriend does too!

Anyway, I am so excited for the start of this reenacting and fife and drum season! MCV’s first parade was last week, and this weekend we have a full two days of performances! I’m not going to be excited for it once it’s on me, but for now I’m completely bugging out.

I love marching down the street as a part of a larger group. I love playing music with people and wearing the same uniform. I love that I’m a part of a group I saw when I was little and swore I would join some day!

Gosh I love springtime!!!!!