Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ay Yo Slim, Get Back Here!- A Tale of A Stroll on a NYC Street

I'm not afraid of talking to people on the street. Part of what makes New York feel so special and magical are the random interactions with people facilitated by a walkable city where only half the population owns a car. Of course, not all of these interactions are positive or welcome, but the ways men speak to me on the street are inexcusable.

What do you really expect to gain from me with the way you approach me? Sir, have you ever in your life successfully managed to talk a girl to hop in your car, ride to your house, and have sex with you just by whistling out the window? Does it actually work? Why bother?

Just like those men who think it's okay just because we're walking in opposite directions down a busy sidewalk to lean in very close to my ear and whisper something in my ear, which without fail sends shudders down my spine. And by the time I turn to look, I can't even tell who it was. So even if I did want to talk to you, you're already gone, and you've just violated my personal space and creeped me out for no reason.

Are you afraid that if you approached me face to face on equal footing, where I have a chance to actually respond, that I won't answer your proposition courteously? Because men in cars are men with two thousand pounds of armor and weaponry. And while that may sound dramatic, it's a real fear women live with every day when they wake up in the morning and open the daily newspaper to read reports of ladies getting stabbed in subways and chucked off the side of a building, just because she said something a man didn't like.

But what about the words you choose to use towards women you encounter on the street? Am I supposed to be overcome with sexual desire when you call me “Slim” on the street? I hate that motherfucking word so much. At least “beautiful” or “sexy” feels kinda like a compliment (but not really, because you're just shouting your judgments of me like I'm a show dog in the Westminster Kennel Club and I can't actually hear what you're saying because I'm just some bitch), but “slim” just makes me think of Slim Jims, and I am not a mechanically separated pork snack that can be purchased at any local bodega for thirty-five cents. Bitch, I'm a three hundred dollar porterhouse, fuck outta here with your “slim” shit. Clearly, you don't know my name, but you wanna talk to me like we're familiar when we're not, so don't get mad when I ignore you, because I've read my birth certificate, and nowhere on there does it say “Slim”. I can't always remember to charge my phone or keep pads in my purse when I know my period is coming in the next couple of days, but I'm pretty sure I can fucking remember what my mother named me.

And if you don't know my name, I'm not entitled to stop in the street and fucking talk to you if I don't feel like it. I have that right as an autonomous American citizen, and being the proud owner of a vagina will never diminish that. So shouting “Get back here!” won't work either. I am not a three year old and I am not a dog. I will not respond to your commands. Do you think that just because I'm conventionally attractive, I have nothing better but to stand around for others to admire? Did it ever occur to you that maybe I'm a gainfully employed and busy woman with places to be and shit to do? Nah? Didn't think so. But clearly you don't do a lot of deep thinking, if you don't have the wherewithal to approach me respectfully. I'm happy to interact with polite people on the street when I have the time. Except you don't actually want to talk to me, you want to talk AT me. That's why you don't use “excuse me” to get my attention, because you don't actually give a flying fuck about who I am, what I think, how I feel, where I'm going, what I'm doing. You just want to examine me like a slave on the auction block. And that's why you can suckle on the memory of both my middle fingers as I stride away from you foolish, disrespectful, insecure men.

Have you ever experienced street harassment? How did it make you feel? Let us know in the comment section below!

Grace Elizabeth Oliver is an eccentric and highly opinionated bartender based out of Manhattan. She enjoys fashion, fish, and freaking the fuck out. Her afro is a magnet. Check her out on FaceBook or follow her on instagram

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