Straight From His Mouth: A Man’s Take On Street Harassment

April 28, 2014  |  

One of the best and worst things about being on social media is being able to look into the window of another person’s life. Even though it’s my belief people occasionally get too comfortable and tend to overshare information, the caveat is there’s almost always someone who can relate to whatever struggle a person thinks they’re going through by themselves. There are also instances where if an open mind is kept, perspectives can be changed. Social media allows issues someone may have never thought about be a part of their reality. Enter, street harassment.

Street harassment, as best as I can deduce from the myriad of conversations I’ve seen, is what happens when men go from ordinary pleasantries to something a bit more aggressive. It should be said here — and ladies please forward this to all the men you know if you do nothing else — men, women aren’t obligated to speak to you. They’re not obligated to return your advances. They’re not obligated to say thank you for whatever you believe to be a passing compliment. Even if what you’re doing doesn’t necessarily qualify as street harassment, if the lady doesn’t want to talk to you, she doesn’t have to talk to you. No matter how gentlemanly your approach, no matter how nicely you’re dressed, no matter if she’s not smiling for whatever reason and you’re just trying to brighten up her day. You, by all accounts, aren’t anybody she has to pay attention to. Let that woman go on about her business and don’t do anything to make her feel bad because she wasn’t warm to your advances.

There’s a question of whether men are aware of this and if they understand that it’s a problem. While I do think men are aware to some degree, I’m not under the impression this problem is widely known amongst the male population. The only thing I’m basing that on is the fact this conversation seems to be happening primarily with women with only a small handful men speaking on the topic. Well that, and the fact that while the conversation of street harassment seems to be picking up, an overwhelming number of women are still regularly being harassed by men. Idealistically, I’m also under the impression that if men were knowledgeable of how terrified women are when men are approaching them, they’d opt to stop harassing them. Again, that’s from an idealistic standpoint.

My time on social media has showed me many black women are walking around scared to death of being raped, harassed, threatened, or talked to in a manner they don’t approve of. I’ve seen so many stories of women who were followed by men that wanted said woman’s attention, even going so far as to follow these women to their cars, apartments, houses, and jobs. Should a woman refuse the advances of these men, they’re being called every disrespectful name the human language can conjure up, and in some cases, being beaten, shot, or even killed.

As a man, I’m appalled. Really. Being alerted to the fear so many women have and knowing that men are primarily the cause of said hurt is disheartening. It’s wild that so many women have a fear of just walking down the goddamned street because some guy they don’t know feels entitled to her time and attention and is willing to exact violence against her if she doesn’t accept his advances. I’m of the opinion there absolutely should be something done about that. First Amendment rights protects our right to freedom of speech. There are, however, many ways that protection can be removed. I’d definitely be in support of a standard of speech being set that defines what constitutes ordinary speech and what is considered to be harassment. I’m not sure how effective that law would be but at the very least it should be able to offer a form of protection for women who feel there isn’t any.

In this instance, other men are going to have to step to the forefront to protect the womenfolk. While this article is only but a small drop in what amounts to a vast ocean of a problem, I can at least speak on it on various social media networks and with those in my personal circle to make sure we’re not adding to the increasing fear of men in women. Ladies, on this front, I got your back.

Peace.

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