For men who don’t understand how street harassment is a problem

ImageThis started as a series of tweets. I think it deserves a blog. For men who don’t understand how street harassment is a problem, let me explain.

You know those Greenpeace workers who block your way on the sidewalk and demand your time and money? Who stare at you as you approach? The ones who you can see in your peripheral and you try not to make eye contact with? The ones you really don’t want to give any time or money and you know that they’re going to say something no matter how much you pretend to be on the phone and you just wish you could be invisible for the ten seconds it takes to pass?

It’s like that. But imagine they want your dignity instead of your money.

Then take it a step further. Imagine them blocking your way on every sidewalk. Imagine they follow you onto the train. Imagine you want to take a cab to get away from the Greenpeace workers, but it turns out a Greenpeace worker is driving the taxi and is staring at you in the rearview mirror. Imagine those Greenpeace workers staring at your ass and telling you what it looks like, imagine them cussing you out and threatening you with violence for not caring about the environment. Imagine you want to tell the cop on the corner to tell the Greenpeace workers to stop harassing you, but then he tries to start telling you about whales too. It’s midnight, and you just want to get home. But it’s whales, whales, whales.

You would hate them, wouldn’t you? Those Greenpeace workers. Every time you saw one you’d be pissed, afraid, suspicious, cold. You’d do anything to avoid them. People would say “They’re not all like that” and you’d say, “Prove it.”

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10 thoughts on “For men who don’t understand how street harassment is a problem

  1. Yani Simone says:

    You are such an awesome writer! Thank you for this!! I hate it but I can relate..something needs to be done, and it starts with getting the message out there, because I shouldn’t have to feel like I have to wear a hoodie, a long jacket, glasses and damn near a plastic bag over my head not to be harassed. Who do you run to, when the cops can’t even control themselves. Thing need to change!!

  2. Thank you for continuing to get the message out there. Things DO need to change! I have dealt with it all of my life, even at 55 years old! I think your writing puts it into perspective for men that don’t “get it” yet.

    • oliviaacole says:

      I hope it does put it into perspective. They say you’ll never fully understand another person’s life until you walk in their shoes. Men need to start putting on our shoes.

  3. This needs to become a PSA!

  4. GracieUK says:

    I think this is the best way of explaining street harassment I’ve ever come across. My male friends don’t seem to understand that it’s a problem – that it’s not flattering, or funny, or even something you can just ignore. I might show them this and see what they think!

    • oliviaacole says:

      I’m so glad you found it valuable. Share it with them!! They need to understand, and if you think this might make them see it from our perspective then I hope you’re right

  5. This one of the best posts I have read concerning Street harassment. Well said. Well said indeed.

  6. […] two wheels (trigger warning: violence). In the realm of worthy reads beyond bikes, don’t miss Olivia Cole’s brief but spot-on explanation of the effect of quotidian street harassment, Kimberly Matus’ discussion of the empowerment […]

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