Harassed on the Street | I Could Have Choked Him!

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I don’t condone violence, but in certain instances, a woman has to defend herself.

I never got involved when the street harassment debate took over the Internet late last year. Because it’s rare that I feel threatened by a man who says “good morning” or “you’re beautiful” as I walk down New York City streets. It’s normal (albeit annoying at times – I want to get where I’m going without someone expecting me to speak to them) and par for the course, I thought. I do get a little pissed when guys say “you need to smile.” Why the hell would I walk around with a grin plastered on my face?

Let’s not get this twisted. White men never approach me, or even say hello for that matter – and I’m cool with that.  This isn’t to say White men don’t catcall – I’m sure they do, but I have zero expectations for them to pursue or speak to me. I’m talking about black men, whom I’ve dated exclusively. I have two black sons, and a black man. My father was black. There. My love for brothers runs deep – predating my existence on this planet. It’s in my DNA.

What I don’t love are assholes.  I got off work last Friday and took my normal walking route to the subway in Times Square. As I approached the station, I saw a drunken looking, plug-faced man haggling a natural haired brown-skinned woman. I peeped her outfit – she was wearing shorts and open toe sandals. Within her right – on a scorching hot summer day, and on any other day because no matter what the hell you’re wearing, harassment is out of order. “Hey baby, can I talk to you?” he begged, following her a few steps until she turned the corner.

I thought to myself – now that’s harassment. Next thing you know, I’m headed down the stairs to the subway station and this f*cking loser is hot on my heels. He’s mumbling for me to wait for him. He wants to talk to me, do I have a minute, etc. “Hold up a minute.”

Ugh.

Again, I don’t condone violence, but the anger and disgust I felt were off the charts. If he had touched me, it would have basically been a rap. Like a throw-down-my-bags-and-use-my-kickboxing-moves type of rap.

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This type of behavior – on the part of men – is what motivates women to carry weapons. I thought about it!

To follow me all down the street, into the subway, amd all the way up to the turnstile? Talking to me when I was clearly unresponsive except to say “leave me alone. I’m catching the train?” What if I couldn’t find my metrocard? He only backed down once I swiped my card and stepped onto the platform.

Pitiful.

I get that the onus is largely on men when it comes to initiating relationships with women. It’s their “job” to pursue – traditionally. However that’s no excuse to throw caution to the wind and violate someone’s space as they walk away from you.

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Women: I’m with you on the street harassment issue. I was never against it – but I did feel that on some level, the movement was exaggerated. I never even bothered to watch the YouTube video of the young actress Shoshana Roberts walking New York City streets for ten hours, with a hidden camera to record men who spoke to her and/ or harassed her. (By the way, she’s suing the director of the video now. Some women dont even want to be looked at. And then there’s another set of women who feel that compliments from men on the street are a huge confidence booster.

I haven’t needed strange man to validate me by acknowledging my beauty since I was much younger. But up til now, I felt that as long as it was done from a distance in a respectful manner, it was okay. Now I prefer that random men just didn’t speak to me on the street at all. And that they didn’t speak to my daughter either. She’s been followed on occasion by men in cars as she walked the streets of our suburban neighborhood. That’s scary considering considering human trafficking and the sheer volume of craziness that exists in our world.

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Men: any unwanted behavior beyond a glance or simple hello is harassment. If you follow a woman who is refusing to engage with you, you’re harassing her. Yell profanities? Harrasment. If you make derogatory comments about her body, you’re harassing her. No matter what she’s wearing. Rude, threatening words or gestures are unacceptable. Of course physical assault is just that. The ones who go that far because they can’t take rejection, or even the pervs who ride crowded trains just to rub their penis on women – deserve jail time, in no uncertain terms.

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What’s your opinion on street harassment? Do you think it’s generally an issue? Have you been affected? Do you think men take more liberty than they should when it comes to addressing women they don’t know? Particularly on the street? If you’re a man, do you make it a practice of approaching women on the street?



Categories: Personal Stories, Rants

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28 replies

  1. White men are equally as guilty of this disturbing behavior. I can’t imagine what that must feel like, other than scarey and creepy. You’re right – other than a civilized glance, or a simple hello, nothing else is warranted unless the woman decides she would like to talk to you. When I was single, most of my single friends would always chat up as many women as possible. They would say that they’re playing ‘percentages’. I thought that their behavior was crude and they looked at women as commodities and not as humans. I don’t know what the solution is, since men behave like dogs sometimes – and no disrespect meant towards the true canines of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You summarized it well: “their behavior was crude and they looked at women as commodities and not as humans.” It can feel that way at times, especially when you’re out at a lounge or club dancing and men take that as an automatic cue to rub their penis on you! I have no doubt white men do this. Just in general, as a black woman, I get more stares from them than anything, but no lip service. No complaints about that; just an observation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder why that is – the lack of chat from white men. I know that you’ve written about it, but it confuses me. I know guys do that in clubs. I just can’t imagine doing that! Think about it, if I had rubbed my penis on someone on the dance floor, then fell in love with her, wouldn’t she think that I had done that with a lot of ‘dance partners’ prior to her?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lol. Of course she would think that! Then you’d be banned from clubs throughout the relationship! (Kidding) I really don’t know why the lack of chat, but I do have a serious demeanor on the surface. Could be fear of rejection, or I’m just not their cup of tea. *shrugs*

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, I would NEVER have the guts to say I’m going clubbing after that! lol There are men who will not approach a beautiful woman, so I don’t think it’s a black/white issue. See? You’re intimidating the white men of New York City! 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            • Haha. That’s pretty funny. I’ve heard that from black men too – they don’t usually go for beautiful women because they’re self-entitled, used to attention, conceited, etc. It boils down to their lack of confidence – and close mindedness, to group so many women into one category. (I asked loads of questions during my single time!)

              Liked by 1 person

              • Yep. Lack of confidence. I had waited two years before I asked my wife out. TWO YEARS. I was just like that – not confident and intimidated. So, I was firmly in that group

                Liked by 1 person

                • Awww. I’m glad you got up the courage. Ugh. So many men have missed out based on those assumptions. Little do they know, if they try, they’re ahead of the game because so many men won’t bother. They’ll stop at ogling. Well congrats on asking – it led to marriage/ family!

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  2. I think this issue even goes beyond the street. I live in a rural area. Nobody walks anywhere, because things are too far apart, so street harassment is not an issue. The other night, I was at a friends house for BBQ and swim. There was a good sized group of people there, men and women. I had to listen to one misogynist talk about all the women he hit it and quit it with, and then about how he liked their bodies to look a certain way (his own body is a mess)….all while the girl he is dating Sat 20 feet away. Another man offered me to sit on his lap. As I was leaving, a very drunk man grabbed my arm and tried to convince me to stay. Now I remember why I don’t hang out with this friend more often. This behavior is unacceptable to me, but nobody bats an eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right. It definitely goes beyond the street. Harrasment can happen anywhere, including the workplace. And all we have to do is turn on the radio and every other song has a misogynistic theme. Unacceptable indeed. And dangerous if you encounter a man who can’t accept rejection.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The first time a strange man followed me, while I drove home at 2 am, I panicked. However, the second after he cleared from my rear-view and the tension lifted, I realised what my car and I could have done to evade him (or wear him out if need be). So the second time this happened I was so relaxed about it, I ended up “racing” the guy (and nearly won, but for the traffic light turning red and me a law-abiding-driver…).

    I won’t presume to know how to handle a NY guy on the street. But once you figure out the options that do exist (other people around you? pretending to dial the police? or better yet – faking a conversation with a man the second you foresee an approach? I’m guessing these men you describe wouldn’t cherish the competition) you will be able to handle the mild harassment and I hope you’ll never encounter anything worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So…really great points. I was torn at the beginning. Being 45, I welcome accolades from anybody, particularly my target market, the homeless. Most are very nice. However, I have NEVER experienced anyone following me or any type of harassment described by the men in your post. That would scare me shitless. Totally agree with you with the “smile” thing. I’ve learned to embrace my bitchy resting face…which totally reminds me about another blog subject. How me not “smiling” 24/7 had the HR department of my former employer actually accuse me of negative body language. Ha! I was in marketing and in charge of events! People loved me. I smiled all the time. But, if caught…ONCE? “Colleen, what’s wrong?” Ugh. (See what you did, Ms. Persuasion.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol
      Sorry to dredge up old memories! I hear you. I’ve always felt a “you look nice” here and there was harmless. And usually it is, but this guy really unnerved me. I thought I was gonna have to fight. Some men don’t know where the balance is. With that, yes, just leave me to my “bitchy resting face!”

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  5. It’s not only harassment…it’s disrespectful! I wish they would stop looking at us as sex objects.
    I love being a woman….compliments, chivalry and all. Unwanted touching will definitely get him hurt. Men need to know when to STOP! If I’m not feeding into your conversation…. Leave me alone! Some are so desperate and thirsty.

    Harassing someone is not necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I try to avoid approaching women in the street or anywhere really. I mainly meet the women I date at school or the internet. It’s uncomfortable approaching someone who’s in the middle of something. This is probably a harsh comparison but it feels a bit like a homeless person coming up to you and begging for change. I don’t have a problem with giving them the money but often their begging comes at inconvenient times when my mind is somewhere else and I’m not in the mood for anyone or anything.I don’t think women should ever be harassed, if she rejects you or doesn’t give you the time of day, you should just accept it; whether it’s on the street or even on a date.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shakiyla, would you be interested in a 3 day quote challenge? If so, the details are here:

    https://weight2lose2013.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/3-days-3-quotes-challenge/

    Thanks,

    Rob

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was written much earlier but I have to say it’s really crazy here. Sometimes if you are alone ib the streets, some crazy asses will even touch your butt, or touch your hand unnecessarily. Women are viewed as being defenseless especially in town where nobody gives a darn to what is happening. And being followed.. happens a lot

    Liked by 1 person

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