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(en) US, BAAM #33 of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement - An Appropriate Response to Street Harassment by Dykonoclast

Date Sat, 17 Jul 2010 16:33:01 +0300

You got a real sexy walk, mama. Can I be your boyfriend? Look at THAT! Are you a fag or a dyke? Hey, you with the legs! Can I ride? Don’t get mad, baby, lemme hit that! What—I was just trying to say hi. ---- Random sampling of some remarks to which I am subject pretty much every time I leave the house. And no, it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing or how long it’s been since I’ve showered. I am invariably regarded by much of the male population as a walking (or bicycling) fuckhole. And no, it’s not just from poor men or men with dark skin. And no, I am not fucking flattered by it —a glance in the mirror or the words of my l—overs are far more convincing than ‘Hey, Mrs. Jugs!’ from some douche with no self control. And no, these men are not ‘just being friendly’ and no, they are not ‘just trying to get to know me.’ Most things that are said to emboobened folks on the street are not conducive to starting conversations, let alone starting a healthy socio-sexual relationship.

I hate that this is such a personalized narra-
tive that I’m writing here because I’m writing
about an extremely widespread phenomenon
that affects most, if not all, people margin-
alized for their sex or gender presentation.
Street harassment is a highly effective way
men have of defining and controlling
public spaces as masculine male spaces.
The rest of us are interlopers and we are re-
minded of this every time we have the gall to
appear in public. It’s effective because it
keeps so many of us in fear.
To have one’s delusions of being a sovereign
human being worthy of respect dashed
repeatedly every time one leaves
one’s house is utterly soul
is utterly soul
crushing. Many have been the times I have
elected to stay in rather than face a leering
male public and I strongly suspect that street
harassment plays a role in why agoraphobia
afflicts twice as many women as men (agora-
phobia = fear of being in public spaces).
To counteract the thoroughly isolating
and disempowering effects of street ha-
rassment, projects have arisen around the
world from Hollaback websites (started in
NYC, now represented in most major cities,
including http://hollabackboston.blogspot.
com to Blank Noise Project in New Delhi, In-
dia. Hollaback sites encourage folks to send
cell phone pictures and stories of harassers to
be posted online, Blank Noise arranges street
occupations and media projects. There is also
stopstreetharassment.com which is a fantas-
tic resource for global information, stories,
resources, resistance campaigns, and it also
exists to promote a forthcoming book of the
same name, the first of its kind.
As exciting and inspiring as it feels when
learning about activism around street harass-
ment, that all tends to evaporate when the
next sleazy fucker verbally ejaculates on you.
Again. And again. Every available option is
exhausting and draining; either continue in
silence or yell back. Neither guarantees your
safety. Many anti-street harassment activists
advocate for legislation recognizing street ha-
rassment as a crime for which punitive mea-
sures are to be enforced. But can we really
expect police to react appropriately to these
situations if we call them? These are the folks
who arrest you for disorderly conduct and dis-
turbing the peace if you call them after your
asshole partner hit you. Cops are the ones
who call you a lying slut if you call them after
someone raped you and they’re the ones who
let your rape kit sit untested in a lab for years,
decades, or for all eternity. I know I’m not
the only one who has been sleazed at by cops
on the street. It’s clear whose side the police
are on. Even if we could expect police to take
our plight seriously, do we really need more
people locked up? With 1 in 31 folks in the
US already under punitive state supervision,
it should be abundantly clear that the state
and their punishments are not the solution.
Some reality: not all of the New Jersey 7
are out of prison for defending themselves as
Black lesbians against a man who promised
to ‘fuck them straight’ in 2006 before physi-
cally attacking them. With more convictions
to come, Shakida Bowers and Nichelle Carter
are two teenaged girls imprisoned in Virginia
for the next few decades because, at the age
of 15, they fought back against an adult man
who groped one of them, and are now being
held responsible for his death in a ‘gang-re-
lated mob attack.’ In 2008, Mildred Beaubrun
was shot dead at age 18 by some harassers
she declined to fuck. March 6th 2010, 15-
year-old Shayla Raymond was killed fleeing
her harassers. A few days later, a man in NYC
was so incensed at getting rejected by a wom-
an that he followed her into the shitter at a bar
and beat her unconscious. Broken eyesocket.
Shattered jaw and ‘other injuries’ including
the possibility that he sexually assaulted her.
I complain about street harassment a lot.
It happens to me a lot. It actually happens
to women and queers and genderqueers and
trans people all over the world. A lot. And a
lot of people, particularly the men I talk to
about it, never really know how to react. As-
shole randos on the street aren’t really part of
a community we can hold accountable. Lucy
Parsons once wrote, ‘Anarchists know that a
long period of education must precede any
great fundamental change in society.’ So if
you are blessed with the kind of male privi-
lege that keeps you from comprehending the
reality I’m describing here, maybe you should
use it in defense of the rest of us.
Brainstorm some ways of challenging these
repulsive behaviors, whether in yourself, your
friends, or asshole randos on the street.
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