Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
Everyday on my way to work I walk past the same cart that sells umbrellas, hats, water bottles, and other miscellaneous items. A little over a year ago, the man who owns that cart said, “Good morning!” with a smile, and I made the mistake of smiling back a “Good morning” of my own. Immediately, he took two large strides, got right behind me, so close I felt his breath on my neck as he said, quickly, with almost no pause between the words, “I love you I love you I love you beautiful lady.” I still feel his breath on my neck on the days he looks at me as I walk past him.
This past Tuesday morning, I was walking to work behind a man wearing headphones as we both walked past this man and his cart. He said nothing to that man in front of me, but as I approached, he said, “Good morning. You’re beautiful. Second beautiful woman this morning.” I wasn’t looking at him, I didn’t slow to talk to him, and I did nothing to intimate to him I had any interest in talking to him. He clearly didn’t care, as he was intrusive about valuing my body, and letting me know he’s comparing me to all the women who walk past him, and letting me, a total stranger who gives zero fucks about his opinion of my appearance, know where I fall into that comparison. It might seem innocuous, but who knows what he would have done had I responded, given his behavior last time I made eye contact with him? And, who knows how it would affect my body image or self-esteem knowing that STRANGERS are comparing me to OTHER STRANGERS, and telling me about it like I should care AT ALL about what he thinks.
As I kept walking past him, now totally pissed off, I noticed again the man with the headphones in both ears. If only I could drown out the world, and not hear the harassment – but then, I wouldn’t feel safe not being able to hear if people were approaching me from outside my peripheral vision.
It must be nice, feeling safe enough to wear headphones and listen to your favorite beats as you walk down the street without a care in the world! And, how unfair that I resent you for your luxury of just walking down the street listening to music through headphones!
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