Being at professional conferences can be both invigorating and draining. So you'll have to forgive me if my posts are short, but I promise I will get back to my normal over-write-y self soon.
First: If you're a new reader from AERA, welcome!! I'm glad you're here. Keep in mind that we are always on the look-out for a guest post.
Anyway. Yesterday I was walking down the street in broad daylight with my friend Nashwa. Some dude sidled up to her and got all creepy, and so I said, "Back off now," and kept walking. Nashwa told me that he looked stunned that I was so blunt, and that she usually just tells people she's running late.
I think that it makes sense to use the "Sorry, gotta run" approach sometimes, particularly when it feels unsafe to be more confrontational. But I am really bad at not being as blunt as possible at any given moment, and I'm also used to this kind of thing from strange dudes, being a woman in America. But the fact that he looked stunned means that he's not used to hearing it. I think that's a problem. People should not bother each other on the street like that, and, given the way power works in our culture, men especially need to be careful about how they approach women. This guy was not asking for directions, you know? I'm not sure what he wanted, exactly, but I deeply do not care. When you act like a jerk first, you get what you get, and feel lucky that all that happened was I told you to fuck off. Right? There is a social contract for a reason.
Street harassment has GOT to stop. It is not okay that men have this power over women, and that they can exert just the slightest pressure and throw off a stranger's whole day. This particular instance didn't get to me that much, but if a man can, just by walking too close to someone and saying three words, make a woman feel unsafe... well, we are not in a post-feminist world, are we?
And while we're up, I think we need to address the way women are socialized to be quiet and non-confrontational. Sometimes we need to confront people, to take ownership of the situation. I think the more women do this, the less likely men will be to harass us. What do you think?
Oh, and check out Hollaback! If I had been quick enough, I'd have gotten this guy's picture. Note to self: carry phone in hand while walking down the streets in New Orleans. If it happens again, I'll be prepared.