The 7 Stages of Street Harassment

You still can’t go on Twitter without seeing #YesAllWomen popping up, and that’s in part because you still can’t even get on the subway without worrying that a stranger is going to harass you in front of an audience of unsympathetic onlookers. That’s what happened recently to Rachel Renock, 23, while she was waiting for the L train in New York City. She tells YouBeauty, “I was walking onto the train wearing a Lakers T-shirt and he walked off and immediately got in my face and basically cornered me between the train and the platform. He looked me up and down and said, ‘Damn, girl, you sexy. Where you going tonight?’ ”She waved him out of her face and escaped onto the subway car, but he lingered in the open doors, shouting at her. “Oh, you’re a Lakers fan, too, huh? My kind of girl! Where you going?” As the doors closed she gave him the finger, then she collapsed onto a seat with her face in her hands, shaking with fury. “You could tell that the other people were uncomfortable—there was that feeling in the air, you know, when you can tell people want to say something but they just keep to themselves? Everyone just sat there looking at me and pretended like nothing was happening.”She couldn’t turn to her fellow humans, so she turned to Tumblr, to let out her fears and frustrations. In her post, she traces what she calls “The 7 Stages of Street Harassment,” the mental obstacle course we women run each time we’re faced with random acts of sexual aggression. We felt so moved (and enraged, and empowered, and enlivened) by her encapsulation of those feelings that we asked Renock if we could run her post here on YouBeauty (with some editing for expressive language). She hopes, as we do, that “maybe next time, people will know what is going through a girl’s head when something like this happens.”The 7 Stages of Street Harassment Tonight, upon entering a subway car, I got verbally harassed by a complete stranger who, even when I told him to f*ck off, did not seem to get the message. Although this harassment is nothing new to me, what was new was how the people around me reacted. No, this isn’t an uplifting story. They did nothing. Seven. SEVEN PEOPLE. WATCHED IT HAPPEN. AND SAID NOTHING. Therefore, since I then went on a serious rampage in my head against every single person on that train that watched me get upset and said nothing not only to my harasser, but to make sure that I was ok once I was safely in my seat, I’m going to write about what happens to me every time I get harassed. I think there are some people who may relate.Stage One: Surprise!Jesus H Christ. After 23 years on this earth you would think I wouldn’t actually be surprised when some [guy] yells a lewd comment at me at 11pm on a Tuesday. GUESS AGAIN. Normally when I’m commuting I’m in my own world, wondering what I’ll have for dinner (ramen) or what my bank account looks like (empty). That’s usually when someone breaks my train of “productive” thought and shouts that I’m “sexy” or wants to know “where I’m going.” This shock quickly turns into the next stage.Stage Two: AngerFury. I mean pure, unadulterated FURY. HOW DARE YOU, SIR. ARE YOU AN ANIMAL? CAN YOU NOT CONTROL YOURSELF? CAN YOU NOT KEEP YOUR DICK IN YOUR PANTS OR YOUR GODDAMN TONGUE IN YOUR MOUTH? THIS I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. DO YOU REALIZE THAT YOUR ACTIONS REPRESENT AN ENTIRE GENDER? THAT YOU MAKE ME THINK ALL MEN ON THIS EARTH ARE THE WORST AND THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE IN HARMONY IS IF YOU DID NOT EXIST? I DO NOT WANT TO THINK THESE THINGS. I DO NOT WANT TO SAY THEM. I DON’T EVEN WANT TO TYPE THEM RIGHT NOW. BUT GODDAMN IT I AM FURIOUS THAT SOMEWHERE IN YOUR TINY SKULL YOU THINK YELLING AT ME WHEN I AM ALONE AT NIGHT IS A REALLY GREAT IDEA. NO. REALLY DUDE. SUCH A GOOD IDEA. THIS ACCOMPLISHES SO MUCH. IN ONE FELL SWOOP YOU MANAGED TO SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF ME, AND MAKE YOUR ENTIRE GENDER LOOK LIKE A BUNCH OF ANIMALISTIC PREDATORS. GOOD. REALLY. GOOD.Stage Three: What Am I Wearing?I love this stage. I love that it exists still. I love the fact that after my anger subsides, I immediately turn to place the blame on myself. What am I wearing? Can you see my arms? What about my legs? Can you see my face? Oh my god my face is showing; I asked for this. I WOKE UP AND DECIDED TO SHOW MY FACE TODAY. STUPID RACHEL. THINK BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE. THAT FOREHEAD SKIN IS SO PROVOCATIVE, NO WONDER HE COULDN’T HELP HIMSELF. PUT YOUR FACE AWAY, YOU STUPID, STUPID SLUT.Stage Four: Should I Be Flattered?What a horrible thing to have in your brain. Should I be flattered? Well, he called me sexy? That’s not so bad, that’s kind of nice I guess. I mean, I’m sweating and my makeup is running and that guy still thinks I’m sexy. Wait, no. So, so incorrect. This is [messed] up. This is the [messed] up truth, though.Stage Five: Anger…AgainDID I REALLY JUST THINK THOSE THINGS? WHERE ALONG THE LINE WAS I TAUGHT THAT SOME A-HOLE’S APPROVAL WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO ME THEN MY OWN SELF WORTH? Flaws. This is all filled with so many flaws.Stage Six: Feeling TrappedWhat was I supposed to do? Did I handle that correctly? My parents taught me to control my emotions, to not say anything, for my own safety. But how can I just not say anything? Doesn’t that perpetuate the cycle? If no one stands up to these people out of fear that only gives them more power doesn’t it? But what about my own personal safety? How do I make them understand, how do I make them realize that what they think are just tiny words are actually doing so much damage to me? How do I make them see that their actions affect everyone around them when no one around them even flinches? You can’t reason with people like this, you can’t have an educated political debate about women being equal and how harassment like this dehumanizes them, making them feel like a lesser person, so what’s the point? Why say anything at all?Stage Seven: The Feminist RantWhy say anything at all? Because, progress. Because I’m still figuring out how to deal with a-holes like this. Because I truly don’t believe that in my lifetime I will ever know what it’s like to walk the streets without fear, without my fist clenched around my keys, without a face on that looks like it’s ready for a fight if it had to come down to it. And no, Mom and Dad, this isn’t because I live in NYC. This is EVERYWHERE. This is in my hometown, this is in every single country, it’s happening, to far more severe degrees, all over the world. I’ve always been asked that silly question by my friends, what would you do if you had a penis for a day, and my answer has almost always been, “I dunno I would probably pee on everything I could.” But you know what I’d really do? I’d see what it was like to live a day without the fear of rape or murder that comes from just standing in a subway station.Originally published on Adult Baby ProblemsMORE: She Wasn’t Asking for It: Why Blaming the Victim Is Never—Ever—OK 

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