Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Every instance of street harassment ever

I genuinely love the fact that my job description requires me to take a walk in the park at 3:30pm every day.

You do meet some colourful characters, though...

"Hello gorgeous, can I have a cigarette?"
"Sorry mate, it's my last one." (This was true.)

True story.

I quite like this one, actually. The clarity of it; the unabashed, unarguable misogynistic bile actually made me laugh out loud (which he did not take kindly to). Which is not to say that sexualised verbal assault is a right giggle and we don't have to take it seriously - just that my instinctive individual response to this kind of flat-out drivel is basically "LOLLERCOASTER!!". It's the lower-level, personal, intimate stuff that really hurts. But that's just me.

So, a translation:

"I want something from you. I will comment on your personal appearance as a means to get what I want."
"I will not provide you with that which you seek."
"I will revenge myself upon you for not meeting my needs by threatening and insulting you. The threats will be sexual. The insults will draw upon the three main categories of misogyny, in the tradition handed down from time immemorial: 1. You are gay, 2. You are ugly, 3. The way you express your sexuality is threatening to me."

This is basically how all street harassment works. The dude wants something - attention, a fuck, a cigarette, someone lower than he is in the Universal Pecking Order so that he can feel powerful for a second. The lady either provides this (and she feels like shit, while he feels like the Tiny King of Dickheadonia), or declines to provide it (and he reaches straight for the Misogynist Sweary Toolbox).

Part of why I found it so hilarious was that I am looking as high femme as I get, today. It's finally cool enough for me to wear one of my favourite dresses, and I start work late on Tuesdays, so I had time to give it the effort it deserves - liquid eyeliner! Face powder! Dramatic mascara! Heels! Which is not to say, get me, I am the Super Sexy Queen of Conventionally Attractive Town: it's just to point out that he would have used exactly the same language (1. You are gay, 2. You are ugly, 3. You might be sexually active) whatever I'd been wearing. Tracksuit. See-through dress. Burlap sack. Designer suit. The point isn't my clothes, it's what he assumes lies beneath: I am a woman, therefore I am fair game.


  1. even though it's awful, i can see why you laughed. he tries to be so tough, but in the making, inadvertantly exposes his own deep vulnerabilities. it is pathetic, and if you're in the right frame of mind, sadly humorous. still, sorry to have your nice walk so grossly interrupted.!

  2. It's the instant reversal that I find hilarious - from "ello gorrrrgeous" to "UGLYBITCHDYKEWHORE" in under twenty seconds.

  3. I like your translation. Next time I get street harassed I will be thinking of a translation in my head instead of getting really upset...