When I was walking home from work, I saw these men hanging out on the street from afar, and I knew, JUST KNEW that they were going to try to “holla” at me. They made it obvious that they were going to catcall because they stopped their inane conversation to stare at me. Yuck. I was already planning what I was going to do to handle them. Do I cross the street or keep on walking? I opted to keep on walking because crossing the street would’ve been an inconvenience to me.
They had started talking again, but now I was close enough for them to make verbal contact with. They once again stop talking to check me out. Ew. And I knew it, they opened their raggedy mouths:
“Heyyyyyyyyy, gurrrrrrrrrrrrrrl!” they said, as if we were longtime friends. I didn’t know these fools, nor did I want to. And I know they were looking at my ass as I passed them…nasty!
Do I respond or ignore them? At first I chose to ignore them. Instead of their dumb behinds catching the hint, they continued to speak to me, but louder.
“How ya doin’, cutie?” they said. I still ignore them.
Now when the one on the right in the photo said, “Boo, did your man hurt you?”, enough with ignoring them. I had to turn around and say something. “One, I AM NOT HIS “BOO”, and two, the assumption that my ignoring them and trying to go about my day meant I was angry and had “man trouble” pissed me off.
“I do not know you,” I said. “You are strangers to me. Don’t talk to black women you don’t know as if you know them. I am not your ‘boo’!”
“You say ‘Hello, Miss’ or ‘Hello, Ma’am,” I continued.
“We said ‘Hello’,” the guy on the right in the photo said.
“But you called me ‘Boo’, and I don’t like being called that, or ‘Shorty’, or ‘Cutie’, or ‘Slim’…learn to respect women!”
I pulled out my phone and snapped a photo of them. I continued chastising them, emphasizing that they were strangers to me and they needed to leave women they didn’t know alone. The reason I emphasized not knowing them is because of the passers-by. People rarely (if ever) help me when I’m dealing with harassers, but I wanted to make the nonexistent relationship between myself and these men regardless.
“Go ahead, take my picture!” the one on the right in the photo said. “There’s a PO-leeeeeeeeeece station down the street. Take dat picture to the PO-leeeeeeeeeeeeeeece!”
I got the photo, put my phone back in my bag, and don’t remember my closing words to them as I continued walking towards home, but I remember the guy on the right went from wanting me to pay him attention to dismissing me with a curt “BYE! BYEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
I’ve had so much experience with harassers that I should’ve known that was coming too. Just a few seconds prior these pitiful excuses for men were trying hard to get my attention, and when I gave them the type of attention they didn’t want they dismissed me. They continued yelling stuff to my back but I was tired of dealing with them and wanted to get home.
It pisses me off that they singled me out on the street and assumed they could talk to me in any way because we’re the same race. I’m sure they said not a thing to the couples that walked ahead of me, or the girls jogging ahead of me, or the woman who was dressed for a fancy night out who was ahead of me, nor did they say anything to the older couple behind me or the two boys who were headed in their direction. Nope, they had to single me out being the only black woman passing by them, treating me as their property.
I’ve lived in this neighborhood for a year, and I tend to see the same faces more or less and have a feel of who lives here. I have seen the guy leaning on the car before bumming for change. I remember him pretty much ignoring people who walked by him, but he banged on the window of a woman in her car who was about to drive off. She locked the doors and drove off—good for her! I noticed he surely didn’t bug a big, burly guy I saw walking past him that day. I have never seen the other guy until today. Regardless of where they’re from, they need to get lives that don’t involve hanging out on the street corner not doing shit with themselves. They need to leave women alone.
(And no, the irony is not lost on me that these guys were standing near a neighborhood watch sign when I took the photo.)
– Tired of Being Harassed
Location: Wilson Blvd. & N. Troy Street, Arlington, VA