A Word On Street Harassment

I try to keep things light over here on C&D but I really wanted to speak up and say something about street harassment as a single girl that dates in Baltimore because I feel that the discussion only seems to have one narrative. For me, it comes down to this:

I like compliments at anytime from anyone. I accept them graciously, thank the person and go about my day, even the awkward or mildly inappropriate. I usually smile when strangers, male or female, say I should smile. I even wave or shoot a smile at drivers that honk in my direction.

I find it harmless and flattering and I’m allowed to have that opinion/reaction (just as you are allowed to have yours). I ignore the lewd, rude or nonsensical (easily done for me with headphones in). I will also say that I have approached men in public and complimented their clothing, accessory, or physical appearance and then continued about my day (unless they wanted to chat more).

To me, being approached on the street/bus/etc. is similar to being approached at a bar. It’s just another opportunity to meet someone new (or not). I rarely find myself feeling unsafe in Baltimore. I am aware that not all women are as comfortable, willing, accepting, or feel as safe. I am also aware that there is a very big difference between a compliment, or even rude comment and being followed, physically assaulted, or even worse. I know it’s a big problem for a lot of women. It just never has been for me.

I could continue but you get the point. That all being said, I think many men are so taken aback by what to do (if anything) if they legitimately would like to approach a women they find attractive. I think this article is really insightful:

To begin with, you must accept that I set my own risk tolerance. When you approach me, I will begin to evaluate the possibility you will do me harm. That possibility is never 0%. For some women, particularly women who have been victims of violent assaults, any level of risk is unacceptable. Those women do not want to be approached, no matter how nice you are or how much you’d like to date them. Okay? That’s their right. Don’t get pissy about it. Women are under no obligation to hear the sales pitch before deciding they are not in the market to buy.

In the end, my remaining opinions on street harassment & Hollaback! is perfectly articulated here:

Our society works damn hard trying to convince us that Black folks, Latinos, and other people of color, especially men, are really scary, scarier than white men. How much of that have we internalized? … How does that affect how we experience street harassment? What comments seem most threatening, and from who? What’s going to just mildly annoy us and what’s going to make us feel angry, gross, or threatened enough to take a picture and post it up on a blog?

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome, men & women?


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