I submitted the Lucky Charms story the other day, and I feel what happened to me today fell in line with what I mentioned with having short hair equals being “ugly” to harassers.
I was really late for work and had overslept, so dealing with that was enough and I wasn’t in the best mood.
I get off the bus at the stop near my job and a homeless man who I’ve seen for the first time yesterday (but who didn’t bother me) was outside again. To everyone else he’s all, “How ya doin’? Spare a little change? Have a nice day!” but when I walked by it’s, “What the hell?! Ugh! Ugly!” and he started making gestures with his hands as if he was “pushing” me to get out of his sight.
Nothing I’d done warranted his nasty comments, so I had to speak up.
“You don’t say rude things to women who are just trying to walk by and get about their day,” I said. “If you want respect, you’ve gotta show people respect. I did nothing to you for you to talk to me like that.”
He got loud and obnoxious and started cursing at me, all the while still trying to put up the facade that he was a nice, harmless man simply wanting some change by saying, “How ya doin’?” and complimenting people who walked by. He was trying to make me the bad guy, and I wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction. I also made sure to get a few photos of him. He turned around and hid his face a few times, so I was lucky I got some shots of his face.
“Why you takin’ my picture?” he asked.
“Because you were rude to me for no reason,” I said.
When he got too obnoxious for me with his cursing I called MPD. He tried to run and hide at the Starbucks, but when I said, “He’s going into Starbucks!” to the dispatch, he walked right out. He tried to walk up the street, but when I mentioned on the phone where he was going, he returned again. Then I thought he was going to chase me so I ran, but relaxed when I saw he stopped. All in all he ended up standing right back where he started and went back to panhandling. Then he tried to act like he was being “nice” to me by telling me, “How ya doin’?” in this sarcastic tone, but I wasn’t falling for it.
I couldn’t wait around to see if the police came, but I hope they did. Of course, my job doesn’t care that I was harassed on the way to work (I informed them that I was late and that I was outside calling the police) because I was late. So I have the stigma of being late to work and the stigma of once again being harassed on me. Great.
As I said before, I’ve been ridiculed (when I do get attention, since the attention I’ve gotten from men on the street has decreased greatly since I cut my hair short) by men who think short hair is masculine. I cannot figure out how changing my hair has drastically changed how I get treated. While I am grateful I no longer get the lewd sexual attention that I used to with long hair, I am not grateful that that lewdness was replaced with rudeness. I feel that black women’s femininity is stereotypically defined as having light skin, being thin and having long hair, and since I no longer have one of those things I no longer “count” as feminine to certain men. I’m glad I’m secure enough in myself to know my value and worth as a woman, but it doesn’t help me feel better about what I went through this morning.
Location: M Street & Wisconsin Avenue, Georgetown, DC