Thursday, March 09, 2006


Manhattan afternoon

Yesterday when I left work, I walked all the way from my Murray Hill office to meet my friend at Film Forum in SoHo. As any woman can tell you, the more time you are on the street, the more harassment you are likely to experience, so, when I made the choice to walk, I also recognized Id have lots to tell you all about later.

I heard a couple of "Hey shorty," "Hello beautiful," to which I responded with well-rehearsed scowls. I reserve these scowls for such comments that I don't want to hold up my day to respond to. I am perfectly willing to turn my head behind me to continue the scowl, if warranted, but sometimes I am exhausted by the idea of confronting each and every man who says a lame line.

By the time I got to the West Village, I was feeling rather good about things and was pleased by the low-intensity of the harassment I'd gotten over what was such a long walk. I felt so comfortable in fact that, having broken a bit of a sweat with my usual gait through the city, I stopped to remove my heavy winter coat.

Beneath my winter coat, I wore a tweed blazer and black long-sleeved sweater. However, as I began my removal, I heard behind me muted whistles. Turning around, I saw that, standing as I was before the window of a restaurant, a table of four guys were acting as though I were performing a striptease for their enjoyment. As I turned, one guy began rapping on the window near me. The others were smirking, laughing, and one was even waving. I did what I always do when someone harasses me from behind glass. I hit it really, really hard with my hand a few times and left.

As I was walking away, I considered putting my coat back on, but didn't want to draw any more attention to myself, so I kept it under my arm. I passed by two guys standing in front of a brownstone-type building. One was leaning on one of those half-fences and, as I passed, he looked me up and down and said, "Hello, hello, young lady." And I said, "Do you ever think it scares some women when you do that?" He said, "Did it scare you?" I said, "A little bit, yes." And he said, "Well then why are you talking to us?" His friend laughed. "I just wanted you to know," I said, feeling stupid. As I walked away I heard the friend saying, "You dumbshit." I think he was talking to harasser and not to me.

Oh, I can't stand the "Yo, shorty" (pronounced "shawty") comments. It happens too frequently. Just last week as I was heading to the library, some man was yelling "Yo, shorty!" at me from across the street. Normally, I respond by rolling my eyes or making some comment...but when I do that, it makes them more aggressive. "F*** you," they'd respond. "You ugly anyway." Why did you talk to me if I'm so ugly then?

In this case, I did the opposite of what I normally do, which is to ignore it. It gave me the satisfaction to know that he was hollering on the other side of the street and looking like a damned fool. These girls perked their heads up to see who could be screaming like that, and I told them "Don't worry...he's trying to talk to me and I'm ignoring him," to which we all had a nice laugh to.

I think there should be a law against this kind of mess...I hope the anti-street harassment rally I attend this weekend will be a step in that direction.
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