Over the course of an average week in Brooklyn (where I live) and Manhattan (where I go to school and work), I experience some variation of the following:
I walk past a group of six men who work at a bakery between my Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment and the subway station. They don’t know I understand Spanish, so after they say, “Hey, baby,” they proceed to discuss my ass.
The man who hands out newspapers on 6th Ave. calls me “sweetheart” and tells me my legs look good this morning.
If it’s warm out, and I’m wearing sandals, a man walking down 13th St. will examine my toes as I wait for the light to turn green, and he will say, “Girl, you’ve got the sexiest toes I’ve ever seen!”
On the train to work after class, a homeless man asks if I have any change to spare. If I don’t, he says “That’s okay, baby, I’ll take some of that instead.”
A man selling homemade rap CDs in SOHO tells me he likes my rack. When I look away, he says, “Don’t you know how to take a compliment?”
At the bank near Union Square, an older man behind me in line asks, “Why don’t you smile, little lady?”
At Papaya Dog in the East Village, the man who hands me my cheese fries says he likes my dress and asks if I want to take him back to my apartment. “I get great reviews,” he adds.
While waiting for my boyfriend outside of a restaurant in the West Village, I write a text message. A man walks by and asks me how I am. I pretend not to hear. He keeps walking for a second and then doubles back. “Don’t you wanna add my number into your phone, sweetie? You’ll like me. I got eleven inches.”
I am tired of having to say and think: No, I don’t want to take you home. No, I don’t want to see your bedroom. No, I don’t want to add your number to my phone. No, I don’t want to take off my glasses for you. No, I don’t want to sit a little closer to you. No, I don’t want to let you take pictures of my feet. No, I don’t want you to touch/kiss/lick/fuck me. No, I don’t want to see/touch/lick/suck your dick. No, I don’t want to meet you later tonight to go to the club. No, I don’t want to see what you taste like. No, I don’t want you to buy me a drink. Leave me alone. I am not interested. Fuck off.
In response, I usually stay still. I try to look calm. Occasionally, if I’ve really had enough, I’ll tell the guy off. They don’t expect it, so they tend to drop it. Regardless of how I react in response, I worry that they’ll follow me off the train and back to my apartment. I am often so concerned about it that, before I get off the train, I plan out escape routes. I am tired of being paranoid, and of feeling like I don’t have any choice but to be paranoid.
Location: Brooklyn and Manhattan