#1 (and intro)

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.


2 thoughts on “#1 (and intro)

  1. It’s sad that this is normal. Personally, I either ignore the person that’s harassing me when I’m walking around town or laugh it off, but I know there’s many other ways to defend myself. I haven’t had any harassment cases similar to the one that you’ve recently experienced in Eugene. I think you’re very much onto something when you thought of how gentrification could be tied into this.

    • Yeah, I find it to be a more interesting conversation when you bring up the fact that gentrification leads to more white and/or middle class folks coming into contact with poor folks of color more frequently. And how that is what causes the problem of street harassment to come up into the media in the first place… when really, poor women/women of color have walked through these same neighborhoods for years, facing the same type of harassment and perhaps worse, without the same sort of limelight in the media.

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