Sneaky Street Harassment… what would you do?
February 28, 2009 § 9 Comments
As a seventeen year old living in New York City, I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of street harassment. Men have said obscene things to me, made gestures, whistled, the works. Though I am by no means happy to be treated this way, I’ve perfected my “death glare,” which is pretty satisfying. What I find worse than the blatantly obscene comments, however, are the faux polite compliments.
I used to frequent an awesome little cafe in my neighborhood called Carrot Top. The coffee was wonderful, the management was super friendly and it was right outside my door. The only problem was that a man who happened to get his coffee at the same time as me every morning felt entitled to assess my appearance, ask me my age, command me to “keep smiling” and, my personal favorite, propose that we run away together.
I’m sure many of you have been in a similar situation. When this man talks to me, he doesn’t say gross enough things for me to call him out on his behavior. He sees everything he does as perfectly chivalrous. Mostly, he puts me in a position where it would be considered rude of me not to thank him for making me feel uncomfortable. I probably should call him out on it one day. Mostly, I just wish I didn’t have to!
No form of street harassment is OK in any situation, but I personally hate the type that makes the object of the harassment feel bad about reacting honestly to the “compliments” he or she receives. I’m writing this post because I really don’t know what to do about the situation. Today I went to Carrot Top and saw him across the street, and that familiar sense of dread came over me for the first time in a long time. It’s really not OK that a stranger can have that affect on me. I go to Carrot Top much less frequently than I used to (in part because of this guy), but next time I’d like a badass plan of action. Any suggestions?