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Street Harassment

A few days ago, M and I were driving down Nott Street in Schenectady. We were on the way home after visiting friends on Goose Hill, and I, as usual, was watching the people walking up and down the sidewalk on my side of the car.

I think I like to watch the couples most. They don’t realize anyone’s looking at them, and they behave in ways they never would if they knew there was someone observing their interaction. A gentle touch, a quick kiss, a smile saved for your partner. It’s sweet, and reminds me that love does exist outside the cozy walls of the world M and I have built for each other.

It’s easy to forget this when you’re a news junkie. It’s easy to allow the anger and hatred displayed all over the world, and especially within these united states, to overwhelm you and convince you that if it weren’t for those around you, love would have just winked out by now.

Of course, sometimes the couples are angry, and it’s interesting to see how they interact with each other then, too. The lack of touch, the disdainful glares, the extra inches of space deliberately thrust between you and your partner. It’s sad, and reminds me that sometimes love is as angry as it is happy, and this is okay.

And then there are the couples who aren’t couples at all. The pretty young woman rushing down the street, almost falling into traffic as she hurries to get away from an ignorant man. He’s asking for her phone number, telling her she’s sexy, trying to get her to go home with him…and he’s never seen her before five minutes ago, when she crossed his path while he was crossing the street.

The other day, the people I noticed were sorta like that. With every step, the woman angled herself toward the street until she was balancing on the curb and visibly considering dashing into traffic to get away from the man following her. He had a giant grin on his face, and kept saying, “Come on, baby girl, I just want your digits.” (People still ask for digits?)

She got into a car, and he turned the corner just as our light went green and we turned off the street. And that’s when it really clicked what was going on.

This is not acceptable behavior, boys. Women are not obligated to talk to you on the street. They are not required to give you their number if you ask for it. They’re well within their rights if they are not attracted to you. And none of the above makes them bitches.

But don’t take it from me. Here’s a really smart chick who’s kinda a big deal on YouTube who’s got some tips for women who are street harassed, and some examples of what street harassment is for the fellas who still don’t get it. If you’re at work, put some headphones on.

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