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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