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TW:Brief Mentions of Sexual Harassment, Violence
Today I was walking home minding my business. To get to my house I get off the bus, walk through an apartment complex and take a small shortcut on a wooded path that comes out on the end of a cul-de-sac to get to my street. So as I’m walking through this apartment complex, thinking about the things I have to do today a car starts driving up slowly beside me. There was another girl who got off the bus walking across the street from me so I thought this car might be pulling up to her since the drivers side was facing her. Also, this is a apartment complex with those annoying little speed bumps throughout so I thought this car might be slowing down to avoid these. But in a few seconds it became clear to me that this car was stopping for me as it rolled down its window to reveal a young man inside the car who began talking to me, driving slowly beside me.
“Hey gorgeous, what you doin?” is the first thing he says. Annoyed that he has chosen to come at me like this and generally skeeved out I asked him to kindly fuck off and kept walking. As soon as this was out of my mouth he began to throw insults at me.
“What my money doesn’t matter, bitch? You won’t take my money?” He repeated over and as he drove beside me, insinuating that I was a prostitute (not that there is anything wrong with being a sex worker, but I am not, and I don’t think this guy meant it in a positive way), and raising his voice at me. I sort of stopped on the sidewalk, yelled “Are you fucking serious?! You’re disgusting!” at him enraged now and began reaching for my pepper spray, and as I began to tell him to back off because I wouldn’t hesitate to reach inside his window and pepper spray the fuck out of him, he rolled up his window and pulled into a parking space. Now I begin to freak out. I start looking around me, wondering if there is anyone around if this guy chooses to get out of the car because I’m getting further and further into the complex and away from the road. However, he back out of the spot just as quickly and turns around out of the parking complex, leading me to believe he wasn’t actually in there for any other reason other than he saw me walking in there and thought it would be a good place to harass me. Even though I saw him drive off I kept watching my back and had my pepper spray in hand all the way home.
Then when I got home I started getting even more freaked out. No one was there. What if this guys watched me exit the complex, what if he followed me to my house? What if he decide to break in and rape me because I shot down his advances? What if? I was so freaked out and pissed off I called my boyfriend, locked the door, and kept my pepper spray out and next to me until now. All afternoon I’ve been jumping at every noise, afraid to even put my headphones in for fear he might come knocking or break in when I couldn’t hear him.
All this anxiety, paranoia, and fear because this man felt that me just walking down the street was his cue to approach me and then become aggressive and derogatory when I turned him down.
This experience, my reaction, this is rape culture.
This is why I get so angry off when men brush off street harassment like it’s no big deal, even my boyfriend who I love dearly and usually gets this kind of thing didn’t realize that I wasn’t just pissed off because of this guy, I was scared.
And I had every right to be. Women are attacked and killed every, single, day all over the world for refusing men’s advances and request, even by people that we are supposed to be close to. Every day women are subject to various attacks on their bodies just for going out into the world and sometimes within their own homes. And the reaction is so often the same, especially from men.
“You should take it as a compliment!”
“Just ignore them!”
“It’s not a big deal! I wish women would talk to me that way!”
“Well, what were you wearing?”
These kinds of responses that invalidate our fear and anger while at the same time validating the blatantly misogynistic behavior of street harassers. These type of responses that attempt to turn the blame on us for dressing “too sexy” or looking “too available”. No wonder then when it come to other more serious forms of sexual violence like rape, victims are often put on trial for their behavior while perpetrators can be convinced by our society that they have done nothing wrong.
The fact is no woman should have to feel unsafe just walking down the street. No one assholes comments should’ve have been able to ruin my day and fill it with paranoia and fear. But it did. And that’s why street harassment IS a big deal. Because it perpetrates rape culture, because it objectifies women and their bodies, because it makes them feel afraid to just live in their own skin.
Fuck street harrassers. Fuck rape culture. And fuck anyone who ever tries to tell a woman street harassment is “no big deal”.
This is , quite frankly, motherfucking terrifying.
And what’s even worse is that it’s not even surprising.
This is something that happened to a friend of mine in her own words.
“So, on Friday night my friend and I were at her house and wanted to get out and do something for the evening. We brainstormed ideas and she brought up the idea of seeing a show at the Laugh Factory. I’d never been, I thought it sounded fun, so we went. We saw that Dane Cook, along some other names we didn’t recognize we’re playing, and while we both agree that Cook’s style is not really our taste we were opened-minded about what the others had to offer. And we figured even good ol’ Dane can be funny sometimes, even if it’s not really our thing. Anyhoo, his act was actually fine, but then when his was done, some other guy I didn’t recognize took the stage. Of course, I would find out later this was Daniel Tosh, but at the time I thought he was just some yahoo who somehow got a gig going on after Cook. I honestly thought he was an amateur because he didn’t seem that comfortable on stage and seemed to have a really awkward presence.
So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”
I did it because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.
After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.
Now in the lobby, I spoke with the girl at the will-call desk, and demanded to see the manager. The manager on duty quickly came out to speak with me, and she was profusely apologetic, and seemed genuinely sorry about what had happened, but of course we received no refund for our tickets, but instead a comped pair of tickets, although she admitted she understood if we never wanted to come back. I can imagine the Laugh Factory doesn’t really have a policy in place for what happens when a woman has to leave in a hurry because the person onstage is hurling violent words about sexual violence at her. Although maybe I’m not the first girl to have that happen to her.
I should probably add that having to basically flee while Tosh was enthusing about how hilarious it would be if I was gang-raped in that small, claustrophic room was pretty viscerally terrifying and threatening all the same, even if the actual scenario was unlikely to take place. The suggestion of it is violent enough and was meant to put me in my place.”
Please reblog and spread the word.
E3 is nearing and that means its TRAILER TIME!
yup! its that time again to be HYPED UP and then reach for you poison of choice as it turns out to be a load of shit. CUTS because no one wants to read my capslock abuse
also SARCASM ALERT.