FED UP

Warning: This post is not grammatically correct and may not make perfect sense at all times. It was my stream of consciousness directly following an incident that pissed me off. And profanity is present. Thank you.

Wednesday July 10th, 2013

People hate on feminists because we’re “angry all the time.” Well you know what? FOR FUCKING GOOD REASON.

This evening I decided to go on a run. It was 8:30 and the sun doesn’t set until 8:50 (even though I shouldn’t have to take that into consideration but I do as a female runner who doesn’t want to put herself in unnecessary danger). I got about 5 blocks into my usual run when I noticed a man in non-jogging clothes running towards me. I thought it was a little odd, but hey, people are weird so whatever. I didn’t look at him as he passed. Then right as he went by me he turned around and grabbed my ass.

He continued to sprint the opposite was I was running. I was shocked. I couldn’t stop running but I couldn’t turn around to look at him because that meant this actually just happened. Soon I turned around after a few seconds and he turned around at the same time I did. So I shouted at the top of my lungs, “Fuck you” and flipped him the bird. I wanted to chase him. Maybe find a good stick and hit him upside the head. Ask him what his problem his and tell him to learn some fucking respect. Sadly, I had to let the “always thinking” side of me kick in. Had I chased him and caught up to him, he could easily have hurt me badly. He was twice my size. The neighborhood was not that populated and it was getting darker by the minute. Then I thought what if he would have attacted me? The discription I would have had to go on was a red and blue collared stripped shirt, and maybe 5 foot 10?? But I’m not too sure. My point is, he perfectly anonymous to slip through the cracks and not be held accountable for anything even if I could have reported it.

My point of this whole story is I felt so angry yet so helpless. All he had done was slap my ass right? No, wrong. He demonstrated his power as a man in our society and kept me in my place as a woman. He reinforced that even though I am a strong, educated, motivated, empowered female in my community; in that moment I was robbed of all power I have earned in society. The patriarchy that has laid the building blocks of thought told this young man that it was okay to physically harass a female stranger on the street. He believed I was an object and an object only. No face, no name, purely a woman with an ass to grab.

This incident made my world smaller. It seems as though women simply have fewer freedoms then men do past sunset, or in a bad neighborhood (not that I am in a bad neighborhood at all and mind you it was still plenty light out). He changed my running route. I decided to go to the busy street and not listen to music anymore to be fully aware of my surroundings. He made me furious for hours following, when he probably forgot within 30 minutes (“Oh hey man I got quite a rise out of this runner chick! Haha you should’ve seen her face, pissed bro”). He made me angry at all the men I ran past for the rest of that run. All I could think was, “fucking try me dude, I dare you.” Which, I realize is unfair to these men who didn’t so anything. However, this man who harassed me caused these feelings and if there weren’t many incidents like this happening all the time maybe I wouldn’t be such a “man-hater” (as people like to put it).

Its things like this that some people may say are “small events” and it “could have been worse.” Yes, I am perfectly physically fine; if not healthier because I ran so fast out of rage for the rest of my run. However, mentally okay? Not so much. Sure it could have been a lot worse, but does that mean that it is okay for a stranger to grab another stranger’s body? It is not just OKAY to harass people. Luckily, this incident inspired me to write to all of you. Thanks for listening.

Sincerely,

Danielle

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11 thoughts on “FED UP

  1. Magdalena says:

    I was invigorated at a breakfast date today and your post is so damn timely, Danielle. Thanks for sharing.

    This morning, I got breakfast with a friend and his friend who is visiting town. Our conversation moved from contact improv to spectating to the fact that my friend has a habit of staring at people when he finds them attractive. He called it complimenting. She, his visting friend, called it invasive. She asked him if he’d ever been afraid of being raped. He thought about it. No. She told him that, in our current world, patriarchy and rape culture dictate the social interaction choices made by at least half the world’s population and that, as long as this is true, his idea of a compliment will not truly be a compliment to the woman at whom he is staring. My friend brought up his role as a dancer, and his performative take on life. He suggested that everything is a performance, as though we were on stage, receiving the gaze. The visitor suggested that he flip his perspective and instead consider the ramifications of our everyday performance, real life, on stage performances. She also suggested that he imagine a metal chain link added to a woman’s body every time she is stared at, hollered at, harassed.

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  2. Rebecca Brammer-Shlay says:

    Great piece. Need to keep up with your ladies’ blog, I am a terrible sister!

    When I was a sophomore in college and working late nights off of campus, I had to take the bus back around 1 am. Any way that I went, I had to transfer downtown, but there was one bus where the layover was shorter, which I preferred to standing outside waiting in the MN winter. However, on this bus there was a man who would always come and sit by me and bother me once I boarded. After this happened several times, I ended up changing my route to the longer one.

    At the time, I was too timid to ask him to leave me alone, and just decided to change my routine as opposed to calling attention to him. Being 19, I was just not comfortable with even the idea of doing that. I know that now my actions would be different, but I am 11 years older (and hopefully wiser) and more confident.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am angry just reading it, so I can only imagine how you feel.

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  3. As someone this has happened to before, I thank you for writing this! This happened to me when I was in a well-lit area, surrounded by a group of friends–some people are truly shameless. I especially can understand how you felt about not being able to retaliate or confront him because of your safety. It’s so frustrating to think that the harasser will be able to just go on with his day, while you on the other hand had to spend all the while reliving the incident. What’s more, from my experience I know that it can permanently change one’s commute, running route, or the places you choose to hang out or shop or study. I wish that just one guy would read your post and change how he thinks about street harassment.

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  4. sarahbrammershlay says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have had my ass grabbed before and when saying something the man laughed at me, which perhaps was even worse than the initial event. I also was whispered to recently “I want to suck your pussy.” This came as a shock to me because I was walking with another man at the time and am not usually talked to when with men. I screamed “SHUT THE FUCK UP” to him and the other men around chuckled. I felt powerless, angry and violated.

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  5. Ami says:

    I’m really sorry that happened to you. It drives me crazy to think that some people believe that this type of behavior is acceptable. I’d like to share a resource that I’ve found helpful in dealing with street harassment and keeping up with what’s going on around the issue, that I’m sure many folks have heard of – Hollaback! : http://www.ihollaback.org/

    You can find local chapters of Hollaback! on the main website, and share your stories or contact them to get involved. They do really good work.

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  6. Sarah M says:

    Thanks so much for writing this, Danielle. Like many other women, I also have had similar experiences to this and it is so frustrating and infuriating as well as isolating and upsetting to be made to feel unsafe in a public space. I think your stream of consciousness sums it perfectly. I’m so sorry you went through that, and that so many other women go through that daily. I really like that Hollaback! resource Ami posted and the Everyday Sexism project is another good place to document your experiences: http://www.everydaysexism.com/

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  7. dhefff says:

    Thank you all for your comments! It is sad to me how not surprised I am that we have all shared similar experiences, and I’m sure numerous times. A few years back on a different running route a man exposed himself to a friend and I as we ran past. It just makes me so angry that harassing women seems to happen so often, yet many people still don’t understand feminism or why we might be little pissed off… Harassment is way too normalized in our society to the extent that when I told this story to a lot of people they didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I feel that anger about harassment is warranted and should be expressed more often to get the point across that is is not wanted or okay. I really enjoyed the Everyday Sexism and the Hollaback! resources, thank you for sharing them Sarah M and Ami!

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  8. Kati Rae says:

    Oh I completely agree with everything said. What’s sad to me too, Danielle, is what you were talking about being a man-hater. I feel like I CONSTANTLY walk around with this attitude of “fucking try me, dude, I dare you.” Because of all the harassment I’ve encountered on the street I think I put on this attitude with ALL men, some of whom probably don’t deserve to be treated with that attitude, but I do it because its survival instinct for me. If putting on that attitude helps deter even one guy from harassing me, then it was worth it to walk around with that attitude all day. Because I just HATE the feeling of being powerless. But I shouldn’t have to walk around with that attitude at all. And I feel guilty that I maybe scare some actually nice men by my demeanor around them.

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  9. safialaura says:

    Danielle I can’t believe I just read this now! I loved it although it made me furious. Love you. This was a great read.

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  10. lexismanzara says:

    Danielle that was amazing! I know it has been said already, but just wanted to say it again.

    And props for adding some more variety to our blog!

    I’m so glad that you made it clear to him that you are in no way accepting of that – even though I would have love to hear that you chased him down with a stick haha true words though that sadly it could have been dangerous to have down anything else.

    I used to try and ignore comments and other rude gestures so that they don’t get a rise out of it, but lately I just can’t and don’t want to do that anymore! Usually I can’t find the words in the moment, but you have inspired me!

    Thanks D!

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  11. kinga gabrielson says:

    This was so great and emotional and true. Loved it, thanks for your story..but very sorry it happened.

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