40 (Un)Justifiable Reasons To Sexually Harass Me On the Street

  1. I’m wearing too much makeup
  2. I’m not wearing enough makeup
  3. It’s Sunday
  4. It’s Tuesday
  5. I’m walking too quickly
  6. I’m walking too slowly
  7. I’m too pretty to not let you enjoy a piece of it
  8. I’m not pretty enough to occupy the space marked “female”
  9. I’m wearing boots
  10. I’m wearing flip flops
  11. I haven’t let you have sex with me before
  12. I’m not letting you have sex with me right now
  13. I won’t be letting you have sex with me in the future
  14. I’m in a public place after dark
  15. I’m in a public place before dark
  16. I’m looking at you
  17. I’m not looking at you
  18. I’m with a friend
  19. I’m alone
  20. I’m talking on my phone
  21. I’m listening to my ipod
  22. I’m holding a green bag
  23. I’m holding a purple bag
  24. I’m in a new neighborhood
  25. I’m near my home
  26. I’m a virgin and you can tell
  27. I’m not a virgin and you can tell
  28. I’m dressed up
  29. I’m dressed down
  30. I’m wearing an engagement or wedding ring
  31. I’m not wearing an engagement or wedding ring
  32. I’ve seen you before
  33. I haven’t seen you before
  34. I’m smiling
  35. I’m not smiling
  36. I’m frowning
  37. I’m not frowning
  38. I’m feeling something that I’m not expressing on my face and you don’t have any way of knowing what it is
  39. I’m lost
  40. I’m not lost

Or more likely, you just believe that you own me.

That you are entitled to my attention. You believe that you have a right to my body. You believe that as a woman, I owe you whatever you want whenever you want it. You are insecure in this belief, and so you feel the need to assert it. To assert your power and privilege over me in a space that belongs to men and in which I have no right to be unless it is on your terms. You believe that you are superior to me, and that I do not have the right to choose when and where and how and on what terms we will engage.

Street Scene

You believe that you have little to no control over yourself and your body, and ergo any behavior in which you engage is the direct result of my manipulation of you. That if I want to maintain my privacy and my control over my own body and my own life, then it is up to me and me alone to defend it. Because I should expect to be bothered, interrupted, attacked, or violated.  It is not about me and whether or not I am a woman and whether or not a woman is a person, entitled to the rights of other people. It is about the world and how the world is – how you created it, for yourself and for your fellow mankind.  And since it is neither my space nor my place, I should expect no rights, no privacy, and no respect once I am in it.

And if, as a man, you find yourself uncomfortable or not in full agreement with any of the statements above, then mind your own business.  Do not ask me how I like that book, just to entrap me in a conversation with you. Do not leer at me, tell me to smile, ask me why my boyfriend doesn’t travel with me, or whistle honk and yell at me.

In short, leave me alone. I’m on my way somewhere, I’m thinking about something, I’m engaged in my own world and my own life.  And it has nothing – nothing – to do with you.

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8 Responses to 40 (Un)Justifiable Reasons To Sexually Harass Me On the Street

  1. Thank you for reading Kat!

  2. Dienna says:

    YES! I hear that.

  3. Yvonne says:

    Awesome! Love this!!!

  4. Anytime says:

    The main reason is much simpler. The guy has an unfulfilled sexual need and gauges the possibility to fulfill it with you. The probability that you will decline is extremely high, but even the crudest strategies seem to work sometimes. In case of a 100 percent rejection rate, it is possible that harassment ends, or that it gets more desperate and tinged with genuine hatred.
    Of course this uncivilized behavior is not justifiable, at least not more than the behavior of a horny macaque monkey, but in the absence of possibility and/or willingness to re-educate, train and civilize that guy, you are only left with the alternatives of decreasing your sex appeal, avoiding the area or writing exasperated posts on the internet.

    It would be a much nicer world if everybody respected everybody else’s wish not to be harassed, threatened, exploited, robbed, bombed, eaten etc. By all means, let us fight for a better world, but also acknowledge that we are not entitled to be treated well by every macaque monkey out there.

  5. Gish says:

    I don’t think it’s an assertion of power and privilege for a man to try to talk to a woman in a public place. Your post reads as though it’s an indictment of any man who talks to any woman he doesn’t know in any way. It’s a shitty, fucked-up thing that women are harassed by men. It’s also a (admittedly less) shitty thing to suppose that a man who talks to a woman in public is doing something wrong. Obviously, to react to the woman’s rejection (should it occur) nastily/aggressively/violently is unacceptable, but let’s not suppose that the very act of trying to talk to a woman in public is inherently negative.

    I realize that terrible boys and men sort of ruin it, so to speak, for those men who aren’t monsters. There’s no excuse for actual harassment. But not every man who tries to talk to a woman in public is a potential rapist. Some percentage of them just might have mustered the initiative to make a human connection. Asking about a book is a harmless activity by itself. I’m sure it can be annoying to have to deal with answering such queries on a regular basis, but each one is unique, because it’s attached to a different person. Each man does not represent the man team. Each man is different, just like each woman is.

    • I appreciate your thoughts on this, but I also feel that you are making a very big assumption – one that men often make. That assumption is that women can’t tell the difference between when a man is being respectful of us and when a man isn’t. It’s a little like men who really are harassers, yet claim that they are just paying us a compliment. Women really can tell the difference. This is the same case, I think. I can almost always tell the difference between a man who is simply asking a question about the book I’m reading because he’s interested, and one who is doing it as an excuse to talk to me without caring that I in no way want to engage with him. So you’re right – not every instance in which a man who is unknown to me speaks to me is a case of sexual harassment. But it frequently is, and having dealt with sexual harassment on almost a daily basis for more than 20 years, I assure you that I and most of my friends do have ways of almost assuredly knowing the meaning behind a man’s words or actions.

  6. Pingback: 40 (Un)Justifiable Reasons To Sexually Harass Me On the Street | Fem2pt0

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