HERE IS A LIST OF ALL THE PEOPLE I IGNORED THIS WEEK
Friday June 24, 2016
W. 137th Street, Harlem: Middle aged man in white tank top with goatee: “God bless you, baby”
W. 137th Street, Harlem: Man washing bike: “Wanna help?”
C train between W. 4th Street and 23rd Street: Man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and black combat boots. Hair in a graying ponytail: Sits down next to me in a car full of free seats and mumbles something about my Moscow bag. Because I have my headphones on, I ignore him until he leaves. I am sweating.
St. Nicholas Ave: Man pushing black grocery cart: Indistinguishable come-on, I am again wearing my headphones and I don’t hear what he says.
Adam Clayton Powell Blvd: Man in black Toyota Camry: honks car horn and winks.
Saturday June 25, 2016
B train between 135th Street and Broadway-Lafayette: Man attempts to show me all of his lottery numbers. Situation avoided — narrowly.
Horse Trade Theater Group, Lower East Side: all of the people who called the HTTG office between the hours of 11 AM to 4 PM.
W. 137th Street, Harlem: Drug dealer sitting on his crate, counting money: “Hey lovely, how you doing?”
Sunday June 26, 2016
B train between 135th Street and W 4th Street: Young Homeless man announces to train that he is collecting money so that he can spend the night in a hospital until he begins work again.
W 137th Street: Young man in army pants passes me and says “hey”.
Monday June 27, 2014
Frederick Douglass Blvd and W 137th Street: Nearly hit while crossing the street by red Honda full of young men. The Honda was running a red light and honking at me while the men shouted come hither-esque harassments. I walked home faster.
Tuesday June 28, 2014
C train between W 116th Street and W 135th Street: Young men handing out fliers: “become an exterminator in less than 30 hours!”
34th Street Penn Station 1,2,3 subway station: Middle aged man in white tank top passing me on the stairs “Hey cutie”.
14th Street subway station: Drunk little person in plaid shirt makes a kissing noise at me as he passes me on the stairs.
Wednesday June 29, 2016
Today I didn’t actually ignore anybody. A rare good day? I’m also staying in a completely gentrified neighborhood in a friend of a friend’s apartment, so there are fewer people outside to ignore. However, on my way home from the Dyke March (a part of Pride) I was sitting on the Q train and a guy about my age came and sat next to me and said, “Excuse me.” I was ready to tell him to fuck off, since he seemed harmless enough and I was hungover and not in The Mood.
He told me that he thought I was cute, so he figured he would hedge his bets and come and talk to me. He seemed like a nice guy, he didn’t do anything creepy and he didn’t say anything gross or intrusive. So instead of telling him to shove it, I said, “Sorry, I’m gay. But that was a courageous thing to do.” Then we introduced ourselves, he said goodnight and went back to his friend that he was with before. I didn’t feel weird about it and I was kind of flattered. Could it be because he was a nice looking guy about my age? Could be. Could it be because he approached me in a non-abrasive way with plenty of other people around so I felt safe? While maintaining my own sense of personal space? Definitely. And could it be because he was honest, took a risk, and left politely once he was aware that I was not interested? Most assuredly, yes.
I am not “against flattery”. I DO know how to take a compliment (rather well, actually). And no, it isn’t because I’m gay. There is, um, obviously, a difference between harassment and flattery. There are clearly ways to make a person feel appreciated and safe while telling them they’re super fucking fine, and there are also ways to make a person feel objectified and endangered. Society-ahem men ahem-has told us again and again that if we ignore the catcalls of strangers, they’ll stop. But when has that ever worked for you or for anyone you know? Words and actions need to be put in place among ourselves in a safe way, so that when a person is harassed or objectified, the perpetrator is the one who is made to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. A simple “please don’t speak to me like that.” or “I‘m not interested.” I’m not saying that combativeness is the answer. Usually that makes me feel even less safe. But silence is never the answer. Silence is the trademark of oppression. And we do — women, in this particular instance — live within a society of oppression.
And I don’t have all the answers! I really wish I did! Then I wouldn’t have to write down all of the times that I’m catcalled within a week in order to try and make some sense of it to myself! But I sure don’t have the answers. I’m just trying to figure it out. I know that intersectionality helps. The more that mainstream (re: white) feminism insulates itself, the worse off everyone is going to be. I know that we can’t start taking apart the pieces until we acknowledge that socioeconomic injustice plays a huge fucking part. Racial inequality plays a huge fucking part. Cultural and religious background play a huge fucking part. Empathetical response in regards to mental and cognitive development play a huge fucking part! Like, the weather plays a huge fucking part!
It isn’t as simple as “men are pigs, ignore them or tell them to go away.” Men will never go away. I don’t want them to (all of the time). The more simplistic the response, the more unrealistic it probably is, as far as I know. So this year I’m going to aim for the complex. I’m going to ask people to give me the nitty gritty. I want to be called out. I want to listen more. I want to observe. Sock it to me.