Long hair = lewdness, short hair = rudeness

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.

– Anonymous

Location: M Street & Wisconsin Avenue, Georgetown, DC

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

8 Responses to Long hair = lewdness, short hair = rudeness

  1. Jen says:

    I’ve had a similar thing from idiots in summer who do their casanova business until they notice the quite extensive tattoos on my back, then revert to ‘Ugh, that’s nasty – why have you done that? That’s nasty, girl.’ One, I didn’t ask your goddamn opinion. Two, my tattoos are for me, not anyone else’s viewing pleasure. And three, I don’t think you’re fooling anyone with your ‘over-protesting’ when a minute ago you professed your wish to f*** me. I occasionally take some pleasure in the fact that I’m probably seriously screwing with their simple minds and basic notions of womanhood though….

  2. LS says:

    You did an excellent job confronting this harasser! Well done and I say that with pride for you. What you did was not easy, I’m sure. I still feel angry for you though in having to take up your precious time and energy on the way to work dealing with this BS.

    I am a black woman with dark skin and I can definitely relate to your feelings about how the femininity of Black women is perceived. I know I live in a society (the USA) where I am perceived as the least beautiful among women, the least desirable and at the bottom of the totem pole so to speak, just because I have black skin; darker skin tones are not considered beautiful or as beautiful as lighter skin tones.

    But like you, I know my value and worth as a woman and my worth is not determined by the racist/sexist judgments of men, black men included. Of all the sexual harassment I have experienced in my life, I would have to say as far as frequency and severity, I have been harassed by white and black men about equally. It always cuts a little more deeply when men of my own ethnicity do it though. I have felt devalued by black men to varying degrees off and on throughout my life. The ones I’ve encountered seem to carry a sense of entitlement, like I belong to them or something and in their mind that rationalizes them harassing me.

    Overall, I have to say that due to the horrible experiences I’ve had with men I don’t even know over the years, I have come to the point where I have very little respect for men in general. It’s amazing how many men just make plain nuisances of themselves. If they want my respect, they have to earn it otherwise they don’t get it.

    I’m not really interested in being friends with men and I don’t find the vast majority of men interesting or attractive. I don’t want attention from any of them and don’t really care if they think I’m ugly or beautiful. I just want to be left the hell alone to live my life peacefully. This is the damage that street harassment does. When a man walks by a woman, says hello and the woman doesn’t respond, what I just said is part of the reason why the man is ignored.

    I’m sure some will read this and say, “Doesn’t she realize that there are a lot of great men out there?” Yes, I do realize that-it’s just that I don’t care. It’s about time that people woke up and realized this is how some women feel and that many of us are in need of healing as a result of these experiences. Until that healing occurs, we may not be that open to men. And that should be understandable.

  3. Jaleesa says:

    I’m not really interested in being friends with men and I don’t find the vast majority of men interesting or attractive. I don’t want attention from any of them and don’t really care if they think I’m ugly or beautiful. I just want to be left the hell alone to live my life peacefully. This is the damage that street harassment does. When a man walks by a woman, says hello and the woman doesn’t respond, what I just said is part of the reason why the man is ignored.

    this is SO true.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks everyone for their comments. The day after the incident I took a detour, but Friday I ended up needing to grab coffee from Starbucks (the one close to where the incident occurred) and that guy was nowhere in sight. I used the normal entrance to work without problems. Same thing again this morning with that guy nowhere to be found. I assume the police did their job, and I can go back to work without incident again. However, I’m still going to be on guard. Just because this incident has passed doesn’t mean I’ll be free of harassment in the future.

    I still stand by my belief that these men have no right to tell me how I look, whether the long hair of my past made me “sexy” or whether my current short hair makes me “ugly.” I never asked for their opinions and I never wanted them to begin with. It’s sad that the behavior of men like this has me on guard around men period, but that’s the way it’s going to be until harassment ceases.

  5. miss-e says:

    I would like to agree with Jaleesa! LS, although we have very different backgrounds (& locations!), your last 3 paragraphs reflect my feelings EXACTLY.

    I don’t know what to say any more to people who tell me “there are lots of great men out there, you’ll find one, you just need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince”, etc. etc… I may have felt that way when I was younger, but at this point in my life I am simply through with men.

    When a certain group of people (who don’t even know me!) consistently feel the need to tell me how “ugly” and “disgusting” I am, I don’t think it’s unrealistic for me to avoid, or be suspicious of, this certain group of people.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well after a nearly two-month reprieve from this idiot, he was back outside in the same place trying to start junk, though not as horribly as he did before.

    I submitted an updated story here which I hope will be published soon.

  7. […] Comments Anonymous on Long hair = lewdness, short hair = rudenessGolden Silence on Outrageous harasser on the morning commutedre on Outrageous harasser on the […]

  8. Nigerian Sista says:

    Overall, I have to say that due to the horrible experiences I’ve had with men I don’t even know over the years, I have come to the point where I have very little respect for men in general. It’s amazing how many men just make plain nuisances of themselves. If they want my respect, they have to earn it otherwise they don’t get it.

    I’m not really interested in being friends with men and I don’t find the vast majority of men interesting or attractive. I don’t want attention from any of them and don’t really care if they think I’m ugly or beautiful. I just want to be left the hell alone to live my life peacefully. This is the damage that street harassment does. When a man walks by a woman, says hello and the woman doesn’t respond, what I just said is part of the reason why the man is ignored.

    Bless your heart siter. This is exactly how I feel and rfuse to engage Arican American males in the street (they are the ones who attemt to engage). I am a Nigerian woman who grew up in the US and I’ve been through exactly what you’re talking about. Many African American males belive they have the right t pass jusdge ment on women. How bold and rude. I’ve been told that I’m ugly as hell and beautiful all in the same day. The funny thing is guys think tht even after a woman has been through such a significant amount of abuse as described She’s still RUDE if she ignores a strange male. She should still leave herself open to strangers. I’ve been walking down the street in DC and just happened to look up and a black male looked at me and quickly took his finger end held it to his nose. He was makig fun of my west African God gven feature. The guy had to be in his late 20 early 30s doing this. I’ll never forget the big smirk on his face as he was searching my fae for hurt feelings. He found none, I walked away. After that nothing they do surprises me. There is an undeclared hatred for African American or Black women. I had never even seen this guy before and he had it out for me. I DON’T WAN’T ANY MAN I DON’T NOW TALKING TO ME ON THE STREET PERIOD!

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