Tag Archives: harassment

Sex and the City

I’m going to take a break from the rationalist analysis (in addition the break I’ve taken from blogging in general – sorry!) to share a series of personal experiences that have made me think more about feminism, and my feminism and more generally about what it is to be a woman in this world. Major caveat: this does not represent all possible viewpoints or opinions, not even all of my own. But it is still an important one.

I spent the summer in New York City, where I walked and took the subway to and from work, and also around the city. For the first week or so, I noticed getting more street attention than usual, but I thought little of it. It had been part of my life before, in Miami, in the Midwest, in positive and negative ways, so I took it as an unfortunate consequence of city life that I would learn to ignore. Which was fine when it was occasional, something to be attributed to rare bad apples or at least apples with a sense of entitlement where their sense of self-control should be. But then it got more, and worse. Somewhere around three times a day, a man would whisper “sexy” into my ear as he walked past, or stop me and tell me how beautiful I looked, or ask me to smile, or holler at me from a car, or honk at me from a cab. “Isn’t it a compliment?” you might ask. Or perhaps, “Well, what were you wearing? Did you look unhappy?” I was, in fact, asked all of these things and more whenever I complained or pointed out the problematic aspects of my experience. Not that it matters, but for the record, I was wearing all sorts of things. I was wearing a miniskirt and heels; a knee-length skirt and a t-shirt; a business skirt and button down; dresses; jeans; work pants and flats. Sometimes jewelry, sometimes not. Sometimes with a swagger and confidence in my step, sometimes rushed, sometimes exhausted, trudging home. It happened in the morning, in the afternoon, at night.

More stories and thoughts about the sheer weight of the burden of Existing While Female

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