Possibly the only thing worse than enduring street harassment would be having to over-utilize all of my eye-rolling muscles when I get ridiculous feedback after sharing my street harassment tales. I have tried to vent to dude friends about these degrading, always annoying and sometimes scary incidents and some of their comments are side-eye worthy. Ladies, perhaps some of you can relate to these unfortunately common and terribly misguided responses to your street harassment experiences.
“Some women like that.”
I don’t care if “some women” like that. If I’m telling you about something a man (a stranger at that) said or did to make me feel uncomfortable, take that for what it is. That shit wasn’t cool. Your job as my friend is to sympathize with me, not try to make a case for the sad individual harassing women on the street. Now, I do understand that some women do like and even seek validation from random street urchins no matter how crass the attention. But that ain’t everybody and it certainly ain’t me. When in doubt about whether a woman might be open to whatever is about to spill forth from your lips, err on the side of caution and just smile instead.
“If he was cute, you wouldn’t call it harassment.”
This is a very common one. For some reason, dudes have a hard time understanding that physical attractiveness is a non-factor when it comes to harassment. I relayed to friends via a Facebook status about a man who walked up along side me as I was waiting for the traffic signal to change. The man said “I’ve been walking behind you for the past block or so, I must say, I’ve enjoyed the view.” I told this story on Facebook and included my short and definitely not sweet response, which was essentially me requesting that Mr. Stranger Danger cease speaking to me. A couple of my dude friends stated that I would have given him my number if I thought he was cute. Le sigh. If Idris Elba’s doppleganger pulled that same stunt, he would have gotten the same response. The only difference is that I would have been thinking “Damn, what a waste of fineness.”
“I’ve said/done worse.”
Oh. My. Don’t do that again. Just don’t. Please. Thank you in advance.
“You’re a pretty woman, you have to expect that kind of reaction from men.”
First of all, the harassment I speak of is mostly from guys who show zero discretion when it comes to hollering. If it seems that you possess a vagina, you will get some of that unasked for attention. Second of all, a woman being attractive should not mean that she is automatically subjected to harassment.
“You can’t blame him for trying.”
Yes I can. I don’t count a smile or a “hello” as harassment. I might even welcome that if it’s non-creepy and not followed up with anything else such as one of my least favorite creep-dude commands, “Smile.” Ick. My goal in all of those situations is to keep it moving. Even if a guy shoots me a nice smile while I’m walking down the street, I’m still going to keep my forward movement. No need to break stride. I might smile back if I’m so inspired, but I’m not stopping. I have never in my life given someone my number who approached me on the street. Never.
Most women don’t want to be bothered AT ALL on the street and you know what? That’s fine. When you see a person, of any demographic, walking down a street, rest assured that person is going from one place to another. There’s a plan there. It is a getting from point A to point B type of situation. It’s insulting and disprectrful to demand and even feel entitled to a stranger’s attention. Women walking down the street don’t owe any strange man a damn thing. Not a smile, not a “hello,” nothing.
So, the moral of the story for the fellas? Don’t approach women on the street. Just don’t do it. If she is your future wife, she probably wouldn’t talk to you right then anyway.