{August 15, 2007}   Campaign Against Street Harassment: Case 1

I live above a restaurant. Last night, fumbling for my keys outside my front door and talking to my sister on the phone, a table of guys seated outside tried to get my attention. I pretended I didn’t notice. Then one jumped out of his seat and ran over to me.

Ass Hole: Can we take a picture with you?

Me: No fucking way, man. Are you kidding me?

Ass Hole: What?

Me: Fuck off.

Ass Hole and Co.: What a bitch!

Now why should I want or allow my picture to be taken with a bunch of scum bags I don’t even know? I wondered if my reply was too rude. But I think asking a total stranger to take a picture with her is just as rude as saying “fuck off.” Yet in the end, I’m the bitch for defending myself.

This is the start of the Campaign Against Street Harrasment (C.A.S.H.). Every woman and man who can’t stand incidents like this one, defined by cat calling* and petting**, should do everything in their power to make it known that these behaviors are unacceptable.

I believe a forceful statement with the word “fuck” does the trick. Once I was walking down the street and a guy asked if he could touch me. In the past I’d always ignored such comments. But this time something in me snapped. I gave him the finger and a forceful “fuck off.” It felt incredible.

The worst thing about street harassment is it renders the victim completely helpless. It’s a form of sexual harassment we just have to take because once it happens we can’t erase the feeling of disgust or unease we have. And we can’t create that same feeling of unease in the instigator. It’s the emotional version of spilling coffee on your white pants first thing in the morning with no bleach pen available.

You might be thinking, “But some women enjoy the attention.” True. But these are the insecure types who gain confidence through hotness validation. The philosophy behind Fempower is to look elsewhere for confidence boosts.

So think fast the next time you feel offended by a street harasser–stand up for yourself. Because it feels great to have a say, too.

*Includes all derogative verbal come-ons by a stranger on the street, from whistling to the more blatant “nice t*tties.”

**Includes all unwelcome physical come-ons by a male cat caller a female victim doesn’t know, from a touch on the thigh in a bar to an intentional brush on the arm while walking down the street.


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