There are times I don’t want to put a CW on things, because I know that the folks I most want to see it will probably opt out, because their privilege allows them to do so.
And then I think about all my lovely folks I wouldn’t want to hurt by a sudden dump of potentially triggering content.Because the point, as so many have said before me and better than me, of letting people know about triggering content isn’t to shelter people from things that might “offend” them. It’s to allow people to take the space they need around particular topics because for a lot of folks, the world is not a very safe space.
So, that is in effect an extended CW. For sexual harassment. Guy-folks, if you’re still with me, keep reading. This is meant for you.
In the past ten or so days, this is what has happened to me. The thing is, this list isn’t all-inclusive.
- While biking, two men come up to me and start to talk to me. I have headphones in, I don’t say much beyond hello, because that’s not uncommon if you bike along side someone for a couple of minutes. One calls me doll, the other calls me sweetheart. They bike on.
- Later that same day, a man bikes up to me and asks if my cycling buddy left me. I pause, not sure what to say or not say. I haven’t been biking in tandem with anyone in 20 miles. I’m in a well populated area and don’t feel especially at risk, but so many times safety means pretending I’m with a guy even when I’m not (or not in the way someone thinks I am). I opt for pulling out my earbud and pretending like I didn’t hear him. He doesn’t repeat his question and bikes ahead of me.
- Walking to my local library, some guy on a bus bench makes kissy noises at me.
- Walking on a work errand, in a busy portion of downtown, a guy comes up to me and asks if I’m lost. I say no, and he asks if he can help me get lost.
- Walking on the same work errand, in a different, similarly busy part of downtown, a guy asks if my hairstyle is an indicator of how I like sex.
- A guy on an escalator behind a friend and I at the movie theater tries several times to start a conversation with us (we continue our conversation with each other), and then follows us into the theater.
- “Mm, yes, lady, keep running like that. Mm.” [running with my dog in the morning before work]
- A car of late-teenage boys drives by while I’m walking my dog one evening, and the blond in the backseat yells “Nice ass!”
- A car aggressively drives around me while I’m biking, so intent on getting past me (and super fucking close to me) that they rear end a car that is number 7 in a line of cars stopped for a red light.Dude driver gets out and starts yelling me, and factors my body into his verbal assault. I leave the scene, at the behest of the driver who was rear-ended, who expresses concern for my safety and acknowledgement that the only damage to their car is superficial.
- “Smile baby.”
For those of you who know me IRL, this is why so many of you who are guy-folk get asked by me at some point if you are doing something when you hear your fellow guy-folk being creeps or when they start objectifying women.
It’s worse in the summer, when some guy-folks seem to lose their damn minds because of shorts and tops made of thin material. But this type of shit is also why I will usually cross an otherwise empty street if I see someone I perceive as male walking toward me any time between dusk and dawn. This type of shit is why I can no longer watch misogynistic TV shows and movies. This type of shit is why I can’t wander around playing Pokemon Go and feel okay about it and why, also, I usually have to listen to a podcast twice if I’m walking and listening because so much of my brain is distracted by who is around me. This type of shit is why I texted my friend the dating coach and started interrogating him about The Game (if somehow you don’t know, don’t Google it) and if he subscribes to that (nope) and if he advises his clients not to be creepers.
Lovely, caring, kind, compassionate guy-folks. Please, please start (or keep) talking to your brothers and your cousins and your friends about street harassment. Please also talk to them about why maybe, even if they are 100% innocuous maybe a woman doesn’t say hi to them when they say hi to her.
Because that type of shit is what didn’t make the list. Because it’s innocuous as fuck and it happens all the time and while a lot of guys will take a simple hello in return and move on (because they aren’t predatory creeps), a handful of guys take any response (or no response, for that matter) as an invitation.
I am not here to perform for men. I am not here to be projected on by insecure men. I am not here to be a sex object. I have a mind and personality all of my own (I know it’s hard to believe, but those parts of me are not defined by the male company I do or don’t keep).