I am sexually harassed on a daily basis. Thinking the problem is me, I have tried to change to make it stop. I’ve smiled at my harassers, I’ve ignored them, I’ve flipped them off, I’ve thought up all sorts of female-positive responses, I’ve walked innumerable different routes home hoping to avoid them. I’ve tried wearing sweatshirts and Carhartts, wearing sunglasses, wearing my headphones.
The men catcall, whistle, shout, hiss, clap, honk, squeal their tires, tap their feet, and snap. They say damn, shit, ho, bitch, beautiful, gorgeous, tits, ass, fuck, have my babies, marry me, come home with me, suck my cock, nice dress, why don’t you smile?
Don’t worry, the remarks aren’t disproportionately generated by a certain race, class, or occupation. White, wealthy, smelly, blue-collar, Black, well-dressed, homeless, Mexican, educated, good-looking, old, immigrant, dirty, young, walking, biking, driving, sitting. No matter who the man appears to be or what his status, he assumes that degrading, sexist comments about my body are acceptable.
Now, some analysis. After all this being ‘done to’, I’m ready to take action. Notice all the derogatory phrases these men think up are male-positive and involve the male invading or being in the active position? Like I said before, I’ve tried turning that language around by saying things like, “Lick me where I pee” or using the word “cunt” in response and have found these responses useless, frustrating. Along the way, I’ve reclaimed words, I’ve manipulated their meanings in my head, even discovered some great history behind the words but all within the realm of action that my harassers define. I’m tired of being responsive, defensive, pensive. It is time for an offensive.