Street Harassment; or, Falling Asleep on Sarah’s Couch
October 4, 2010, 1:47 am
Filed under: REBECCA | Tags: , , ,

“You have a good night, Miss Lady. Don’t be scared,” said the gurgling, wet tar oil blot of a man on the playground outside the Henry Street Settlement.

How did I respond? How didn’t I respond? I was walking, reflexively turning my face away from this street male as I always do, ever since I’d first been experientially taught that there is reason to save myself the slight of being called names, being the butt of someone’s private/pan-cultural/defensive-displacement joke, being made to feel like a weirdo woman other/up-for-grabs woman other/whore on-account-of-vagina.

I wondered what gave this man the impression that I was afraid. “Honey, are you alright?” another one asked. I wondered what led this man to believe that our intimacy was great enough to merit a diminutive. Another one: “How you doin’?” I sighed: Am I stupid enough to even consider that these people anticipate a response, not merely content to display their brash masculinity with a purposefully rhetorical question meant to show me I AM BEING WATCHED; I AM NOT ALONE, object of wonderment HOW YOU DOIN’, DON’T BE SCARED (snicker, snicker, high-five, jangles of bats and chains); Are you alright? Can you make it another day?

On Friday I fell asleep on Sarah’s couch, as I have been known to do, clothed and comfortable in a black-out, no-worries, perfectly temperate way I never feel at home or on street. Covered as I was by her thin blanket with the A/C pumping and the sound of Sarah typing and the sensation of me cuddling… myself, I had a dream. In this dream, there was a girl with curly hair who was shaking her head down against the ground in a dancing-while-genuflecting motion that served as a signal for Sarah to shoot the bus driver of the bus we were riding. This happened twice before I woke up, convinced that my cat was purring beside me and that I was safe, resolved and happy to be un-harassed by my latently murderous partner-in-Barbarism.

Today Sarah and I corresponded with a fellow who allowed he’d never been on the receiving side of this casual abuser-unwilling abusee street dance. It’s so unfair! Is it right to assume that most men never experience this? Surely they, as fellow humans, must experience habitual humiliation in another way but HOW LONG MUST WE STRUGGLE!? FOR JUSTICE!


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