a few nights ago, i was walking over to my friends’ to have supper with them, when i got harassed. i was walking in the alley to get to their door, and i passed a group of 5-6 guys standing and talking beside two parked cars. one of them stepped away from the group and turned toward me, making heavy eye contact and said ‘hello, love! how are you?’ and put on a sly smile. because of the size of the group of men, i decided it wasn’t safe for me to respond and just glared and kept walking purposefully. i mean, it was a really small comment, but a huge invasion of my privacy. i deserve to be able to walk through the world without men having to press their intentions upon me. i deserve to respond in a way that feels most natural to me (in this case, it would’ve been “go fuck yourself”) without feeling unsafe.
it made me so mad. back when i was an angry girl skateboarding around calgary, i would get catcalled rudely fairly often and i always felt confident in my ability to give a rebuttal because a skateboard ensures a quick getaway and/or an easy weapon. in those days, i never hesitated to callback to street harassers. since then i have always weighed my ability to defend myself in the situation with the likelihood that i will callback and it is so rare that i feel like i can safely respond. my usual response is to keep walking, glare (or in the case where i’ve been harassed on the bus) pretend i didn’t hear it.
i hate the culture that allows men to invade my safety-space. i hate being approached by men on the street who ask to have sex with me (once while i was wearing an ankle-length parka, once while i was wearing a cute short summer dress. what i wear doesn’t matter). the dude hanging out by my front door (obviously a totally sketchy dude) who tries to start a conversation with me and gets offended that i will not talk with him. the dudes on the street that call me love and honey and comment on my body/my clothing.
i hate feeling powerless against these men. even if i took a self-defense course, i wouldn’t feel safe talking back when it’s a group of six men! i’m so aware of my small size, and feel relatively powerless compared to men. i don’t know what i can do to change this culture where women’s bodies are open for men to comment on wherever, whenever.
i’m so disgusted. i don’t know to react that would make me feel empowered and not afraid. what space is there that is safe for me?