Long Walk: Street Harassment

May 31, 2011 @ 10:03 am | By TheFeministGriote | 2 Comments

Memorial weekend is the unofficial start of summer. This is the season of cookouts, pool parties, perfecting the art of being a beach bum, vacations, family reunions, and of course mango season. Summer never gets old no matter how old one may get. With all the wonderful things that come with summer there is one thing that I dread the most about summer and that is the onslaught of street harassment. During the summer months it appears that street harassment is on steroids. Many may be wondering what is street harassment?

Street harassment: The experience of women from all walks of life of being heckled, whistled at, rated, propositioned, leered at, fondled and in other ways assaulted and humiliated by men as they go about their daily lives in public spaces.

It wasn’t until recently I learned the formal title of this very common practice, I have been forced to endure since middle school. Having a woman’s body while being a little girl was a big source of contention for me growing up. It shaped my future body issues and how I related to men. I can remember vividly walking home from middle school and being honked at, stared at, and one time having to run home for fear of my life because I was being followed home by a strange man in a car. Whenever my friends and I use to walk home together and we had to pass a group of boys or men we all became increasingly quiet and walked really fast. We never discussed the why’s between us, but it was one of those unspoken sisterhood cues we knew to tense up and get quiet when men were in flocks.

Fast forward to today, I am a grown woman who is still forced to deal with street harassment while I navigate through public spaces. In the mornings when I go to the park to get a run in I must endure hard stares from the construction workers who are renovating the park, I get honks, men slow down to yell at me, and I even had a man on a bike whisper nasty shit in my ear. In the beginning when I first started working out I tried to dress androgynous so that men wouldn’t look at me, but I have huge breasts and an ample butt and I couldn’t hide it. Now, when I go to the park I don’t go out of my way to look invisible, but I still feel apprehensive.

Whenever I encounter street harassment it makes me feel like a piece of meat and of course it makes me uncomfortable, but somehow someway I felt that it was part of my neighborhood culture and it wasn’t until I was an adult did I realize that street harassment is unacceptable and damaging to a woman’s psyche. As women we don’t have to take this as the norm. Websites like  stopstreetharassment.org encourages women to get active in their community to raise awareness about this degrading practice that can easily turn violent. Boys who eventually become men need to be raised to understand that degrading a woman is not a compliment and most importantly, I wish other men would chastise men who engage in street harassment. I am trying to bring awareness to this issue and hopefully you the reader becoming more aware of this form of harassment that this awareness can help curb this detrimental behavior. Women around the world have a right to walk through their neighborhoods, villages,  and suburbs without fear.

Speak your piece. What is your experience with street harassment?

Categories: Venus vs Mars

2 Responses to “ Long Walk: Street Harassment ”

  1. I hate street harassment. I experienced it a lot when I was in high school, mostly by the Mexican workers as there were many of them. But the “getting honked at” part is something I still deal with to this day and I hate it. I hate walking down the street and being leered at by men.

    But it continued to surprise me because I felt that because I’m unattractive, I would get spared being leered at or having some guy whisper “sexy” as he walked past me. It makes me hate men. I cant understand why many men feel they have the right to be so invasive? And as I walk, I wonder what I can do to make it stop, but I normally tense up and keep it moving. Whenever I see a bunch of guys sitting anywhere, I hastily move away.

    I hate that it makes me so frightened, particularly of men. I don’t think I should live in fear, but I often feel that I would need to resort to physical violence in order to defend myself.

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