Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Time I Felt I Couldn't Hollaback

Bumper Sticker by Holly Kearl

On my way home after a wonderful night, two men took it upon themselves to ruin my mood. Friday evening, I had a great time at Word Up pop-up bookshop. I read that evening, listened to other authors, poets and musicians, and after the event, spent time with a new acquaintance.

The train ride home was uneventful. Not one drunk or vagabond to speak of. The train made all stops. It was a little after 4am on Saturday morning before I got back to my neighborhood. I've done this a million times before. About a block away from the train station a car pulled up along side the parked cars, slowing to about 5 miles an hour to keep pace with me. The passenger called out to me something to the effect that I shouldn't be alone and asked if he could walk with me. I knew the tone. He wasn't trying to be a gentleman. I kept pace and looked sidelong at him. He continued to speak but rage was drowning out whatever he was saying.

Then I heard a different voice coming from the car. It was the driver. He was leaning past his friend to speak to me. I guess he figured he'd have a better shot. I started to grip my umbrella tighter wishing I could just bash their faces in.

"Dread, dread! Why you nuh talk to me, dread?"

After seeing the death glare I shot him, he shot back with some variation of the why-you-so-angry, don't-look-so-mean command men are known for.

You wanna know why I ain't smiling, motherfucker? Because it's 4 am and you've been driving alongside me for about a block catcalling and harassing me from your car with your friend.

I've heard too many stories of men retaliating against a woman who spits back only because their egos are bruised. It was two against one, my cell phone wasn't working, so I didn't say anything.

The driver continued his assessment of my hair, my body and my walk, while the passenger continued to leer, laugh and ask why I won't "come here" or "stop and talk".

"Mi see you walkin dere so, dread, and mi jus wan eat your pussy. An mi nuh do dem tings but mi a look pon you and mi jus wan eat your pussy." This time I shot him a look Obea almost answered for me. His tirade was accompanied by a tongue gesture. I was so enraged.

They continued to roll alongside me. He told me how he wanted to eat my pussy and how could I not want it. But with no response from me, he wished me a "good night" and sped up, him and his passenger looking back periodically until they/I were out of eye shot.

Before they drove off, I saw two young men on the stoop of a building. I wasn't thinking that they would help but just hoping having more people around would stop the two men in the car. They drove off when I was a few yards from the stoop. Yet as I walked past the stoop, the one closest to me on a lower step turned to his friend by the door and said, "Yo, shorty right there could be sucking my dick right now with those lips."

I wasn't supposed to hear the comment and it took everything in me not to turn around but again it was two against one if they did decide I "shouldn't have said anything."

No, I didn't deserve what happened to me because it was 4 am.  No, I wasn't wearing any tight or revealing clothing to cause these men to lose self-control. They were just disrespectful assholes who thought it was OK to follow me almost the length of an avenue and harass me. I'm just pissed that I had to bite my tongue because of fear of how they'd react. Had it been a couple of hours earlier, or if there were more people on the street, the outcome would've been a lot different.

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Check out this movement and get involved:

Hollaback! is a movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against.

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