Wednesday, March 08, 2006



When I first joined the group, I had a difficult few months. Whereas before I had been able to brush off, to some extent, all but the very worst of the harassment I experienced on the streets, becoming a part of a group devoted to the issue made each and every encounter on the street burn hotter. It made me dread it more in some ways, it made me more angry and frustrated, even as sharing my experiences and organizing soothed and validated me.

Obviously, I joined the group because I was so angry to begin with, which is part of what made my new frustration so, kind of, scary.

I have only been at this blog for a little over 24 hours and I am noticing a similar sensation. I know that every episode of harassment I will be considering more deeply because I will relive it if I choose to blog it. So, when I didn't have to be on the street alone at all this morning, I was relieved more than usual.

But, what does this mean? I've often heard people argue against, for example, teaching Women's Studies in college because young women end up seeing their whole lives with anger for awhile. In other words, knowing about the problem is seen as exacerbating the problem, an over-reaction, rather than an appropriate reaction, to one's personal experiences.

But the problem is not itself exacerbated. In fact, the examination of street harassment, over the course of years in the group and now as a blogger on the subject, has led me to a more nuanced perspective, overall, making me slightly less viscerally GRRR and more thoughtful about it. In a way though, despite my fears and discomfort, there is something amazing about being this angry about it again. It has been making me remember a lot of the first experiences I had with street harassment that made me so humiliated and angry ... now, I am jaded usually and I just live with it. I just shed most of it, the stuff that doesn't scare me too badly, that isn't physical or particularly vulgar, by the time I am home at the end of the day. When it was new, any experience of it stuck.

I remember when I was eleven and first developed breasts and boys at the swimming pool would call me "snowcones" because of the size and shape of them. I wanted both to die and to kill. And I almost vomited when I first heard it. Though, as I said yesterday, I was (often rather brutally) teased a lot as a child, when the teasing became so sexualized and so related to my gender, it brought about whole new feelings of injustice and rage. By the time I was fourteen, it had become part of the overall landscape of my life, something I totally hated, but hardly saw anymore.

It's International Women's Day today, in case you don't know. It's a day of the year that we pay special attention to what's happening to women globally and locally. And we do so even if, maybe even because, it makes it feel worse for awhile.

It is so frustrating to have to hear once again, that it is better to walk around pretending that if YOU try hard enough that pile of shit will smell like roses. Only when one is aware, can you make change that is true and addresses the reality of the situation. I hear your anger, and sympathize totally. I would rather be walking around in a rage with eyes wide open than walking into danger because I kept trying to smile.
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