Men Just Can’t Say Hi?

So some thoughts on this street harassment video that was a bit too much to put into a status.

1. I am tired of men reducing the outcry against SH to just mean it’s about men not being able to greet people. Many dangerous SH situations have started out with Hi, but it never ended at that. Call it intuition, but women accustomed to SH know the demeanor of a man who is not going to end at a simple greeting. It’s usually accompanied with maybe a long creepy stare, a full stop from him (which means this is not going to be a passing moment), and most times a step in her path to get her to stop. SH is common so women know how to filter it out. The body language of a stranger with a completely non-threatening greeting is much different than one we can tell that is going to interrupt our day.

2. SH is reported to be experienced more by women of color and LGBT women (and at the intersection of these it’s exponentially more violent and deadly) , but it’s quite sad no one seems to care on such a viral level until a white woman experiences this.

3. Heard dozens of black men claim racism from the video because it mainly showed black/latino men catcall and follow her. This a real broken record y’all, got to do better. It seems like she mainly walked through these neighborhoods where this demographic is dominant. If this video was edited to leave white men out, then it’s a shame if they relied on the “pure white woman/scary black man” theme to get this out. Intentionally or unintentionally it worked. Sad. I am sure if a black woman was the one to do it (and we have in the past had campaigns) the first insult we usually receive is the “angry black woman/traitor black feminist” category and left astray. Only to experience this again with no comrades in sight. Just us.

Honestly, fuck the guys in this video. What they did is still very real and men who do this lose racial solidarity because they not only do this to her but most likely did this to sisters as well. So men like this don’t have my support. Fighting for them is not my priority when I have to take Brazilian Jujitsu just to feel safe by myself. So if you’d rather focus on the racial aspect, I can see why, but at the same time why not call out the fact what they did is still wrong. She wouldn’t have footage to show if they would have left her alone in the first place.

4. Asking us to respond to the “non-threatening” comments is not a solution to end street harassment. Barking up the wrong tree. I’m not stopping for every “hey beautiful” on the street. We are not required to stop. We are not here to make a man feel better about himself by getting a pretty woman to say ‘hi’ to him. How about turn the conversation on why men who do this need every strange woman on the street that he talks to to respond? Why does he have to act aggressively, making her feel unsafe? Why are men killing women on the street because they won’t give him a number? Why do all of these questions get over looked, but the first thing y’all go to is “she could at least be nice and say hi back”?

5. I am still pissed that black trans women’s deaths still get heavily sidelined in the conversation about SH. Our sisters are getting slaughtered and their stories have not gone viral.

2014 Deaths:

Tiffany Edwards

Zoraida Reyes

Kandy Hall

Yaz’min Shancez

Nicole Kidd-Stergis

Islan Nettles

Hope you are at peace.

So my brothers, you can’t cry for us to march for you if you continually fall on patriarchy, a tool that kills your sisters, to recharge on false power. That’s not where our real power lives. Supporting each other is where it comes from.

6. Sweeping this into the “they’re monsters” category is a cop out. That implies these men and boys are unique and outcast variants who don’t think like “normal men”. SH is too common to just be a variant behavior. Rape culture is bred with many sets of ideas. From thinking you deserve sex or a response for a kind act (read: “nice guys”) to telling your daughter sex is a dirty act that devalues her. Its all is intertwined to set off violent behavior & thoughts towards women.

Why I Speak Up

Last year I was sitting by myself in Zucotti park at noon, waiting for my husband to get off work. Four young black men sat about 30 feet away. One waved hi multiple times as I decided to continue to focus on my text conversation with a friend. He kept talking to me and yelling over to me about my looks, despite my obvious non-responsive body language. I hit a wall, I told him aggressively to stop talking to me. Immediately his friends went off on me. They called me a bitch, ungrateful, bitter, uppity, and closed the  gap between me and them until they surrounded the bench I was sitting on. The initial harasser decided to make it seem like I was over-reacting to the bitch comments his friends hurled at me. “Well I just want you to have a nice day, you don’t need to act like that.”

I was completely floored. The irony and the pure denial of his out of line friends was enough to make me feel hatred I haven’t felt in quite some time.

The park was full of people, no one decided to ask if I needed help. I leapt over the back of the bench to get out of the closing circle while they still spewed insults at me. I threatened with police and they dispersed. Not that I believed the cops would help me either. I saw more people in that park shake their head at me. I stood there and wondered why I had accusatory looks. Like I deserved it. All they saw was a black woman yelling it seems.

So to anyone who is trying to trivialize the SH conversation…kiss my ass.

When my safety is endangered, I’m not thinking about your hurt feelings of not wanting to talk about this subject. If you want women to “stop nagging” about this, then stop doing it.


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