Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Some Experiences With Street Harassment - I Did Not Ask You

I did not ask you to say good morning to me. I was in a bus station at 8:30 AM alone; all I wanted was to grab a coffee and get back to campus. I certainly did not want you to say “goooood morning” to me in that tone of voice, nor for you to give me that up and down look. I don’t know what you were looking at, anyway; I was wearing a pair of off-label Uggs and a long, brown, shapeless coat.

I did not ask you to say “smile, it’s not Monday!” when I walked past you right outside of the main hub of campus. I have a calendar, thanks. I know it’s not Monday. I’ll smile when I damn well want to smile, and only then. Your encouragement is not going to make me want to bare my teeth in any positive fashion.

I never ask you to say “good morning, young lady!” or “hello there, pretty girl!” whenever I forget to cross the street parallel to the main hub of campus before I make it to the block that you’re always on. And yet, you always do. I always turn away and ignore you, and you’re never unpleasant about my complete disregard of your existence. But the fact that I have to constantly remember to cross the street, and that I have to tolerate your unsolicited comment to me, is unfair. This should be my street as much as it is yours, and I resent that you are taking it away from me.

My friend and I did not ask you to yell “come home with me!” and assorted other, more graphic requests for sexual favors at my friend and me while we were walking on a street in Haifa on a Saturday night and you were drunk with your friends. Neither one of us were, are, or ever will be interested in going home with you, and I am glad that I had the presence of mind to ask “does saying that to girls normally work?” instead of just storming off or ignoring you. I wish you had responded, instead of just getting nasty. I would have been interested to learn if harassing women on the street actually has ever gotten you a date. I think that your lack of response gives me all the answer I need to know, though.

1 comment:

  1. I have a problem with a guy at shul who's taken to asking me, "Where's your smile?" Honestly, I would call him on it, but he's been ill for many years, and I don't have the heart.

    As for your question, "“does saying that to girls normally work?”, all I can say is that you have a lot more chutzah (nerve) than I had at your age, thank goodness. In my defense, the term "sexual harassment" didn't even exist when I was your age--when one of the guys in a former place of employment repeatedly propositioned me for sex, it never occurred to me to report his disgusting behavior to the boss because being chased by men on the job was considered just another hazard of being a working woman. You are fortunate to have grown up in a more enlightened era.