Street harasser: Hey red.
Me: No response.
Street harasser: Light skinned. Light skinned.
Me: Walking faster
Street harasser: REDBONE!
Me: Pretends to be busy on my phone
Street harasser: You fine as a motherf*cker
Me: He’s still catcalling to get my attention? What a douche!
I don’t answer to men catcalling me on the street. I’m definitely not answering to an imbecile showcasing his colorism by reducing me to terminology used to describe skin complexion. Can’t a woman walk down the street in peace? Dare I have the audacity to leave my home and subject myself to men who believe it is their right to harass women on the street? When will it stop?
I didn’t deal with sexual terrorism until college. You can make up your own reasons for why that is, but I’ve decided it’s because I grew up around whitepeople in a suburb in Kansas. The few times guys did “holla” at me, it was when the cheer squad went to away games at the black schools and it was never with the dedicated fervor of the men I encountered in New Orleans.
When I walked onto campus that first year, I was almost immediately warned that my loud and outraged responses to the locals’ smooth and oh so flattering come-ons were the wrong approach.
“These dudes down here, they don’t care, they’ll hit you if you talk back to them like that.”
They’ll hit me?!?! Because I don’t want to be verbally accosted by their raggedy asses?! Sweet Mother of Mary I’m transferring to USC!
But I didn’t. Of course I didn’t. I also didn’t change my reactions. “Who the hell does that”, I thought to myself and went on about my business.
I got used to it. I complained and I ignored and I yelled and I rolled my eyes and I kept on walking and I flipped guys the finger and I got used to it. Because what else was I gonna do?
Until I got hit.
To this day I don’t even know what the hell happened. One minute I was yelling at some guy because he wouldn’t leave me alone and the next minute he slapped me in my face.
He slapped me.
In my face.
Because I didn’t want to give him my number.
My phone number.
I didn’t want to give a strange man, a man I wasn’t interested in, who had approached me in a disgusting manner, my phone number and got slapped for my troubles.
I was positively livid. And not because “you don’t hit a girl.” Because, well, yes, that’s true. But mainly because, who the hell slaps someone BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO GIVE THEM THEIR PHONE NUMBER?! In what universe are men being raised to think that this is okay? What culture, what society, what air of privilege leads to any one person (or many persons) thinking that he is such a special fuckingsnowflake that the denial of his unreasonable request deserves that? I’ll tell you. A rape culture.
*climbs down off her Hello Kitty stickered feminism podium and picks up her chai latte*
You wanna talk about how I was dressed, don’t you? Sure you do. Jeans, halter top, heels, weave pony tail, hoop earrings – one of which he knocked off when he slapped me. I liked those earrings. They were cute. The bastard.
That year, a friend of mine got punched (yes, I said punched) as the result of a similar situation and I was too through. Plenty of other things contributed to me transferring to a state school back home, but physical altercations with dusty, entitled men sure didn’t hold me back.