seriously, read this: A rant about street harassment

Posted on August 6, 2011


A rant about street harassment — Feministe. FUCK YES. I highly suggest reading the entire thing. it stirred something powerful inside of me. Here’s a few exerpts:

And I love the feel of gentle rain on my legs, which so rarely get to experience the kiss of wind on damp skin. For me there’s something spiritual about letting the parts of my body that are usually covered interact with the weather, sun or rain. It’s a brave, exciting, beautiful thing I can do for myself, like diving naked into the ocean, or peeing outside. Seriously, I love peeing outside. Weird? Maybe, but I always feel like a badass when I do it….

I was in the middle of my life, and I gave you NO indication that I wanted you to interrupt it. But apparently my bare legs were the indication. Apparently my body itself is the only indication you need to ride your bike into me, to let me know what you think of it.

I know you’re not thinking about what will happen after you harass me. I know that you know that this does not qualify as flirting, because flirting would require the participation of both parties. I know that this is about you fulfilling some sad little part of you that feels disempowered- so you exercise what little power you have over someone you perceive to be weaker in order to feel bigger about yourself. I know I have very little to do with why you yelled at me at all. I know that to you, I am replaceable with any other perceived-to-be-woman’s body. You could have yelled at anyone. But you yelled at me. And I’m the kind of person who yells back….

…You are the reason I don’t feel safe walking home at night. You are the reason I keep my keys in my hand, testing their sharp edges. You are the reason I wonder how quickly I can run away. You are the reason I weigh the pros and cons of fighting back. You are the reason I wonder if I would ever be able to get over it if I were raped. You are the reason my drink is always in my hand. You are the reason I will tell a friend to call me when I’m supposed to be home from a date. You are the reason I don’t smile at strangers on the street, because I worry that a simple smile will be interpreted as a come-on. You are the reason I cross my legs and arms and avoid eye contact with strangers on public transportation. You are the reason my headphones are always in my ears, even if I’m not listening to music. You are the reason I have to fake a cell phone conversation. You are the reason I have to make an actual call if I am walking alone..

..You are the reason rape culture exists. You yelling at me on the street is a part of the same process of objectification that will lead you to ignore my saying “NO”. If you do not respect me on the street, then you will not respect me in a bar, in a cab, in my home, in the classroom, at work. You are the reason I feel afraid, the reason I don’t trust most men, the reason I don’t trust most strangers. You are the reason I know too many people who have experienced sexual violence or emotional abuse.

You are the reason I do the work I do. You are my reminder, not that I need one. You are the reason I am angry…

So even though you made me feel disempowered, I’m going to turn towards my rage, the fire that has always driven me to work and create. Rage will fuel my love….

…So when I yell back, “FUCK YOU”, know this. I am also shouting out a powerful, “FUCK YES!” Yes to a world without rape. Yes to a world without harassment of any kind, to a world without colonialism, imperialism, sexism, misogyny, racism, poverty, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, classism, ableism, ageism, fatphobia… Fuck yes! Fuck yes to honest relationships, to loving activism, to deep self-reflection. Yes to working harder at being inclusive, to listening, to being anti-oppressive in all aspects of my life. Yes to the frustration, tears and laughter that work will incorporate. Yes to learning from my mistakes. Yes to confronting privilege in myself and in others. Yes to speaking up. Fuck yes to better friendships, safer and fun sex, more art, more music, more dancing, more play. Yes to safer spaces. Yes to multiple, intersecting identities. Yes to community, to no more hierarchies and more collectivity.