I’m Not in Public for You to Stare At

by August 1, 2012
filed under Activism


I cannot explain how much I hate this term, especially when it is applied as loosely as people have a tendency to apply it.

Yes, I have short hair and a piercing. Yes, I greatly enjoy rap and scream music. Yes, I can be quite badass when need-be. Does that give you the right to call me a very offensive word and then peel out in your douchebag truck, your friends giggling along with you as though you just told some joke worthy of comedy central?

This recently happened to me as I was sitting in an intersection. It was very hot, so I had my windows open as I listened to the new Linkin Park album. It’s important to know that they feature slightly dark music, with some rapping interspersed through the creepy guitar. I am a very big fan of Linkin Park, and I was probably bobbing my head along to the beat as a black truck pulled up next to me. The car, loaded chock full of white boys with their idiotic Douchebag Caps (those baseball hats that aren’t actually baseball caps, because they have those stupid flat rims that don’t serve to protect your face from the sun at all) on backwards, blasting some pansy ass representation of the wonderfully macho song Whistle by Flo Rida as they chuckled to themselves and ate Mcdonald’s, had all their windows down too. They noticed me, and the lead douche leaned out his window, leering at me. As it was hot, I was wearing a skimpy tank top, and his eyes went right for my breasts. Mildly disgusted with his staring, I rolled my eyes and turned my stereo a little louder, wanting to drown out his presence altogether.

This was when, his ego evidently hurt by my unwillingness to be the object of his ogling, he chose to call me, loudly enough for me to hear, a dyke.

Now, call this what you want. A defensive attack meant to preserve his pride in front of his pack of buffoons, an ignorant comment by an ignorant boy, a joke, an assumption from my musical choice, whatever. But does that make it okay? No. If I were a shyer girl, who had issues with being confrontational with assholes, I probably would have sheepishly stared at my lap, feeling ashamed in some way that I had given a boy that impression. I’ve seen it happen. And is that right? What that boy did to me was a form of harassment, but some girls feel as though they had done something wrong.

Luckily enough, I don’t have a problem with confrontation. I’m actually very good at it.

There’s this show on TV called “What Would You Do?” In it, they use actors and a lot of hidden cameras to put everyday unsuspecting people in odd and unsettling situations. In one, they had several actors stand by a food stand and verbally harass a woman. This woman was an actress. The rest of the passerbies were not. When the men started to call this woman lewd names and make suggestive comments, most of the people in the area looked away. They didn’t want to get involved. This is a recurring theme on the show, especially when there is a man being aggressive in any way. Only a handful of people actually said something, some thankfully going far enough to threaten to call the police, fully realizing this situation was one where an assault was taking place. Not a physical one, but a verbal one, which is just as real. It’s easy for us to see a man grabbing a woman and call for a bouncer. But when we’re at the bar and we see a man talking to a woman who obviously doesn’t want to talk to him, we shrug it off. It’s just normal. But it shouldn’t be. We should be standing up for that woman, telling the man to screw off.

Things really need to change to make women feel safe. I shouldn’t be harassed in the middle of the day. I’m just glad I was able to lift my middle finger, smile, and say, “I’m outta your league. Deal with it.”

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