“My Long, Exhausting Summer Of Street Harassment Is Over”

“After another summer spent shrugging off men’s loud assessments of my body any time I left my apartment, I am exhausted. And as the streets thin out and the weather cools to a temperature less accommodating of men who consider catcalling a leisure sport, I am increasingly able to pause and feel the depth of my own fatigue…
There is no foolproof calculus for staying safe from verbal or physical harassment in a world where your body is a spectacle. A person’s vulnerability is proportional with distance from white masculinity, this we know. Black plus woman equals target. Still, I exhaust myself with shaky equations that might render me invisible and thereby minimize the danger of simply existing in public.
Ten inches of upper knee visible plus two inches of cleavage might not equal street harassment at 2 p.m., but if I subtract four hours of daylight, that equation changes. Going out tonight without enough money for cab fare? Maybe I need to add a pair of jeans. See a stranger walking toward you, looking to start conversation? Smile long enough to be pleasant but not solicitous, walk fast but not so fast it seems like I’m running away…
Decision fatigue is discussed mostly as an obstacle on a TED Talker’s path to complete, Soylent-fueled productivity. For women like me, it’s part of my everyday attempt to stay alive. And, no matter how much attention the issue of street harassment gets, men seem to have a hard time believing this.”

Ugh, the randos just chilling on the street in warm weather, surveying the world like it’s there for their entertainment and exploitation.

This summer in Boston was magic and somehow I have had zero incidents. And Chicago was much, much better than DC overall (though I was still groped and barked at in ostensibly safe places). But no matter the surroundings, those calculations are constant and exhausting. Where to sit on the train… Realizing how racist I am when I see a black man walking down the street towards me versus a white man… Keeping my earbuds in even when I’m not listening to anything and hoping that some guy will let it go after just one attempt when I ignore him (because, no, we don’t know each other from somewhere).

It’s such a toll. And at best, someone might say “Wow, women are so strong!”. But few people are really making an effort to help us out.

Related: Street Harassment 101