This past week has been bizarre in some ways, because I have received street harassment more times than I care to remember. I am going to highlight the examples below of a sign that women are *still* classed as secondary citizens.
Example #1: I went running in Hackney. As I made my way home, a man came up to me ‘asking if I was alright’. I said ‘yes’ and then asked him (firmly) to leave me alone. I continued to walk down the street and he followed me all the way to the end, and decided to try his luck again.
Him: I just want to talk to you
Me: No, thank you. Can you please leave me alone? I have a boyfriend.
Example #2: I went to Borders in Oxford Circus. The bus was packed so I sat on the top deck where I could find a seat. A man, from Algeria as he would later tell me. He was talking to me, so I answered with my normal one word answers. As I found myself in the magazine emporium that is Borders, I felt a tap on my back. I turned around and my bus buddy was standing right there. He asked me if I was doing anything today and I said that I was busy, and of course adding what I told Mr. Example #1: I have a boyfriend. I could not believe that he ACTUALLY followed me straight into the shop, the second person to do so. But it does not stop there…
Example #3: On my way home from another day attempting to jog, I have Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce songs ringing in my ear. I then spotted a bright yellow advertisement, and gave a quick glance. The man standing near the yellow ads must have thought I was looking at him, because almost immediately, I get that same tap on my person, saying hello. I was irritated at this point and must have scowled at him.
Him: I didn’t mean to scare you
Me: You didn’t.
I think all of the examples above constitute as street harassment and it is NOT fair. How can any person do this to another human being and think it is okay to continually harass someone when they have made it blatantly clear that they want nothing to do with you on the street?
I hope no one thinks I am trying to bash men but I do think some men need to think long and hard about how they treat women in public spaces. Approaching a woman with a perceived sexual interest must be handled carefully, and following the person around in broad daylight is very irritating.
I was getting so angry by the end of the week with these three separate incidents, that I ignored an Asian Pentecostal Christian who was just handing out a flyer for an event. I apologised to him, telling him that Walthamstow was just full of harassers. He looked at me with genuine understanding and concurred.