Monday, June 14, 2010

Beauty and Street Harassment

Walking to the office today, I encountered a group of about 5 middle aged men. I was about fifteen feet away from them when I noticed they began to turn and look at me. This was enough time for each of them to get a long look at me.I'm not on display ... I am not a display. I wanted to scream at them "I'm someone's daughter, I have a father! Don't you have daughter's?! I'm more than my sex! My God, I am so much more.

The way they looked at me was not a way you look at someone but instead the way you look at someone when you undress them.

--I take that back, I wasn't a "someone" to them, just a means for sex.

I looked forward and pretended they weren't all standing staring at me. Once I passed them I felt two things, first disgusted and in a way violated (though I will be the first to say things could have be horribly worse. Still I felt uncomfortable.)
And second I felt ugly, (I know this is sick) because they didn't say anything to me. I thought they didn't say anything, so I must not have been pretty enough for them. And the moment the thought crossed my mind I hated myself for thinking it. Why the fuck should I care what they think of me? But at the same time it sucks, to think you're ugly. But it sucks even worse that I was counting on them to determine whether or not I was beautiful.

This was not the conversation I wanted to be having with myself at 9 am, I mean I was minding my own business walking down the street. I didn't ask to get judged!

And there is something terribly wrong with making beauty equate with physical appeal. I consider myself very feminist, but sometimes I also find myself very brainwashed by the media. And honestly how could I not be, when I am accosted by images of airbrushed, unattainable "beauty" on a daily basis. What's worse is that I don't see these images and think "Wow! Beautiful!" Instead I think, "Damn the patriarchy, always telling me how to look!" And still these things go through my mind.

This sucks.

Please someone out there in Cyberland, tell I'm not the only one who's ever felt this way!

If you have any stories of street harassment in DC or NYC, you can post you're stories on
Hollaback DC
Hollaback NYC

Photo Credit: iirraa on Flickr


Fancy said...

Thanks for voicing that weird paradox, of hating on them for saying something, feeling invisible when they don't. Happens to me, too. I let the street determine if I do / don't look good. It is maddening and you can't win. Thanks for sharing, not always easy to be honest.

Anonymous said...

You can post stories from anywhere at Stop Street Harassment's blog

Laura said...

Yes! It's a horrible feeling- I am sorry you had to start your day this way.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were walking in the city when a man stop him to tell HIM that his girlfriend was gorgeous. I was instantly upset - sure, maybe for an instant I felt flattered, but then I felt objectified and ignored- why couldn't the guy tell me? He had to tell my boyfriend as if I was some object used for parading around, not even worthy of addressing directly.

My boyfriend did not get it at all why I was upset. He said "what, take it as a compliment!" I told him it made me feel gross.