I’m trying a blog series “experiment” on sexual harassment. I don’t know if the series will be at all interesting or insightful, what exactly my end goal is/what light I’m attempting to shed, or whether or not I’ll even be able to keep up with it before I lose my own interest in blogging about it. But I’ve been thinking a lot about the viral video that popped up about a month ago of a woman walking around New York City, documenting the catcalls and street harassment she experiences from men. The first time I watched the video, it struck a chord of familiarity within me (on a topic I’ve mentioned before I’ve wanted to write in more detail about, especially since moving to San Francisco’s Mission District). I quickly reposted the video on Facebook with my immediate thoughts and how I related to the woman in it. I even hashtagged at the end of my FB rant, #yesallwomen.
Shortly thereafter, just about every other blogger and blogger’s mom put in THEIR two cents about the video and its implications, primarily around the racial/class-based politics of it all. I’m glad about this, because it made me consider other perspectives of the scenario that I didn’t necessarily absorb instantaneously (e.g. gentrification; perpetuation of the white female victim/male of color sexual predator dynamic) but that I realized were also important parts of the whole conversation, as well as the way I view my own experiences of street harassment/harassment in general. For one, what about when women of color experience harassment? By men of color, white men, or otherwise? (Jezebel has a great video response on this.)
Which brings me to my “experiment.” Now, I realize there could be a much more scientific, much more prudently research-y way I could go about doing this (hence the quotations). I also realize that perhaps in boiling a single instance down to a few bulletpoints, I may at best be oversimplifying many much more complicated and problematic phenomena, and at worst, misconstruing the implications to be drawn from the information I plan to give. Nevertheless, what I want to do is to paint a very quick picture of instances in which I myself experience/have experienced sexual harassment. And I want each instance to be taken in the context of me: a late 20-something, middle-class/upwardly-mobile, Filipina/Asian American/woman of color living in urban Northern California. Past that, I don’t know what I’m trying to prove. Or just the extent of how what I post is actually a crappy or under-nuanced way of going about such a social experiment (sorry in advance if it turns out to be). Personally, I just want to keep thinking about this issue. I don’t have answers yet. Maybe my readers can comment along the way of this journey and help me reach some?
Enough pre-analysis. Here I go. *NEXT-DAY EDIT*: I realized today I got the day and time wrong of the incident and have since corrected it. I also added “Who I was with” because it might be interesting to document whether or not that makes a difference.
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: Around 4:05pm
Where: Oakland Chinatown, California
What I was doing when it happened: Walking, legally crossing an intersection with a walk signal
Who I was with: No one, just me
What I was wearing/what I had with me: black cardigan, black/blue hi-low skirt (mini in the front, calf-length in the back), black tights, blue flats. Backpack, brown paper grocery bag holding some other stuff.
Who deployed the harassment: white male, in approximately late 30s/early 40s, walking with another white male fitting the same description, both wearing lanyards with ID cards on them (classic “urban service provider” accessory… I also wear one during work hours)
Harassing action/comment: As the man I pass each other, he states, loud and clear to me, “That is a VERY nice dress.”
How I responded: My thought as I saw the two men approaching was, “Hm. White service providers in Chinatown. You don’t see that very often.”After the comment, I did not make eye contact, turn around, nor say anything back. Kept walking and thought about the situation, and the fact that I had completely not expected it. Also: “I’m wearing a SKIRT, idiot. Not a dress.”
More to come.