Reflections on Street Harassment

Awhile back, maybe a month or so ago, I stopped to get myself a sandwich for dinner. It had been a long day and I didn’t feel like cooking. I placed my order, and as I stood waiting for my food, a man leaned in next to me and murmured in my ear, “Has anyone told you today how beautiful you are?”

I knew the script. I knew what I was “supposed” to do in this situation: smile, act flattered, thank the stranger for his attention. This isn’t my first time around, and I know what the expectation is of women when we receive catcalls or random attention in public. I was “supposed” to thank this stranger for invading my personal space, even though I didn’t like it or want it. I refused to do it, though. Instead I stepped away and told the guy that he was being creepy, to which he responded, “Oh, I just meant your hair clip is cute, that’s all.”

Yeah, sure you did.

Within a couple of days of my experience, a friend of mine was at a bar when a man persisted in buying her a drink and trying to chat her up. His opening line was along the lines of, “I just wanted to tell you that you have a great rack.” Classy. 

I thought about those two instances today when I saw a video about a woman being harassed one hundred times on the street….in one day. It blows me away that anyone would consider this behavior okay. These unwanted interactions can go from the mildly annoying, like my experience while I waited for my sandwich, to the truly scary, like one sunny evening when I walked over to the 7-11 across the street from my apartment complex, only to be approached by a guy who said he’d come into the store because he noticed me walking across the street, thought I was pretty, and wanted to invite me to a party with him. When I said no, he asked to drive me home.

Because yeah, I’m going to get in a car with you. 

To the men that do this, I don’t know exactly what you’re hoping to gain. It’s not like you’re going to yell, “Hey girl!” or say “nice rack” or even “you’re so beautiful” and our response is going to be to grab your hand and dash off into the sunset (or into your bed) with you. And I don’t really believe that men who act this way are expecting that, anyway. I think it’s exertion of power, a way to feel strong by treating someone else as if she is weak.

There’s no winning in these situations, either. I haven’t walked across the street to the 7-11 again, and it makes me angry that I don’t feel comfortable doing that anymore. I should be able to go across the street to get an ice cream cone without being afraid. But I can’t. That’s not the world we live in.

From the video: “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more.”

Men like that don’t like it when the women they’re talking to won’t stick to the script. Too often, we do stick to the script, just because it’s easier to mumble a quick thank-you for a compliment we never wanted than it is to ignore the asshole or tell him to fuck off. It’s a no-win situation: either play the role that this strange jerk is forcing on you, or risk his verbal abuse and subsequently feeling unsafe if you brush him off or tell him off. After I told the man in the sandwich shop that his remark was creepy, I also made sure to linger after getting my food in the brightly lit, public place with people around, making as certain as I could that he was gone before I left myself.

Women are not human beings, and certainly not equals, to the men that act this way towards us. We are objects, toys, things, expected to tell them what they want to hear and act the way they want us to act, simply because they talk to us. I feel like I should say at this point that I don’t believe that all men are like that. Not at all. I have a father and brother, a boyfriend, and several close male friends that would never dream of treating a woman this way. I genuinely believe that most men are good and would feel horribly if they ever made a woman feel unsafe, even accidentally. And this just furthers my disgust at the men that don’t.

I don’t know what to even suggest doing to stop unwanted attention in public. It doesn’t seem to matter how we look, what we wear, what we’re doing or where we’re going:there’s no solid formula for avoiding the comments. But I think a good start would be to toss out the script, and stop complying with what we are “supposed” to do if we find ourselves in these situations. If we receive unwanted compliments, we don’t owe these men thank-you’s, smiles, or even the time of day.

It Happened Again Today

Today there was a shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School. It is a high school in the town that I lived in up until last year. A few of my friends have teenagers that attend class there. As far as I know, they are all safe.

There’s no confirmed number of victims hurt or dead. The school is locked down, rooms are being cleared one by one, and students and staff are slowly, methodically being evacuated to a nearby church.

Yet another school shooting, and in my own community. It makes my head spin. I can’t imagine being the shooter, a kid so angry that he felt compelled to kill others, and according to reports, himself. I can’t imagine being in a high school cafeteria, eating lunch, then fearing for my own life as a fellow student opens fire. At thirty, I don’t think I could handle something like that. Forget about being able to handle it as a teenager.

There’s something wrong in our society, that this keeps happening.

I listen to the live feed from news stations, and from the local police scanner, to hear what is going on. I check Twitter and news articles. Already the ignorant are losing their minds in the comments. Arm teachers! and This is not a gun control issue, no one is taking my guns away! Because of course violence stops violence. I can’t read the comments. They make me sick to my stomach. How anyone can value gun possession over human life will never cease to amaze me. The campus hasn’t even been thoroughly searched yet and already these crazies must make their love of their guns known.

Yes. More guns. That’ll solve everything.

Ridiculous.

I don’t know what to think of all this, and I feel like I’m moving through a fog as I try to process it. This is how I feel, every time this happens. I can’t get my mind around children that are angry and depressed enough to kill.

We need to do something in this country. That something is definitely not arming schoolteachers. The something is not adding more guns into the mix.

People insist I will change my mind, when I say I will not have children. Days like today are the reason why I will not change my mind. I don’t want to raise a child in a society where kids have to do drills so that they know what to do in the event of a shooting. I don’t want to raise a child in a society that looks into the face of a tragedy like this and cries out for more guns and more violence. I do not live in an environment that I wish to inflict on someone of my own creation. No, I will not do that.

My heart goes out to all of those impacted by the Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting. I know there’s nothing that I can say, write, or do that will take the pain out of today’s tragic events. I hope for a complete recovery for anyone injured, and for any that have passed away, I hope that their families and friends can somehow find comfort.

 

Moving and Colors

With just a couple more weeks until I move, I have a LOT to do! Yesterday Amy and I went to Home Depot and bought paint for my bedroom, our living room, and my bathroom. We then spent the afternoon working in the house, and even though we still have a lot more to do, we made some good progress. I picked a deep purple paint color for two of my bedroom walls, and a light gray for the other two. I love my colors. My room will also have brand new carpet before I move in, so everything will be clean and new.

I’m getting really excited to move into our new house. Hopefully we can have all of our painting done by this weekend, and I really need to get serious about packing some things (I haven’t packed a single box yet…bad me). I’m lucky to have Amy, who has gotten a ton of work done at the house while I’ve been at work. We get along so well, I can already tell she’s going to be amazing as a roommate.

I’m not anticipating that it’s going to take me long to pack my things. I didn’t bring that much with me when I moved into my apartment last year, and I’m going to be even more selective about what goes with me to Kirkland. Non-essentials are going to be thrown away or donated. I’m even going to be extra-picky about what clothes I take, because I don’t want my closet to be so stuffed full of clothes that I can’t find anything!

My boyfriend got me these really neat plastic storage bins to keep my shoes in. They’re designed to fit under my bed, and they have little wheels on the bottoms so that I can easily pull them out from under my bed, pick my shoes for the day, and slide them back. He even braved Walmart to get them for me. I loves him!

Amy and I are really lucky to have the house we’re renting. It’s all one story, good size for two people without being overwhelming. It’s in a fantastic neighborhood and it’s close to the freeway for me (I’ll be gaining a commute from Kirkland to Everett, but at least I’ll be going against traffic both ways).

We still have so much to do, but I cannot wait to move in!

 

Saturday’s Birthday and Fur Mom Love

I’m really trying to get back into blogging, although I feel like I really don’t have a lot going on right now that would be exciting for anyone else to read about.

Today is my Saturday kitty’s sixth birthday. I can’t believe my little teeny tiny kitten is six years old today. I know, I know, it sounds like such a “cat lady” thing to talk about, my cat’s birthday. In my defense, I know his birthday because he was brought into the shelter I used to volunteer at shortly after birth, and his birthday is printed on his vaccine records. I don’t know Angel or Oliver’s birthday, so I just keep track of their ages by their adoption dates. Oliver, I think, was born sometime in March of 2006. Angel was about two years old when I got her, so I really have no idea exactly when she was born or how old she really is. We can only guess.

I bought Saturday a new cardboard scratcher (they’re  his favorite and he routinely gets new ones because he’s hard on them and tears them up) and some toy mousies with feather tails. I gave him the scratcher last night when I got home, and he got really excited over it. He rubbed around on it, broke it in with some good hard scratching, and then came and got in my lap and rubbed his face back and forth across my arm while he purred, as if to say thank-you. This morning I gave him the mousies, and he was in cat heaven. He played with them while I got ready for work. No doubt they’ll soon be stuck under the couch or somewhere, but I gave him three so hopefully he’ll always have at least one that he can find.

I watched him playing, purring away, and was happy to see my little guy so thrilled. I tried not to feel sad when I thought about his sister Friday, who is no longer with me and will not get any new toys or snuggles from me on her birthday. I left both Friday and a fifth cat, Darwin, with Ex Boyfriend when I moved out last December. I didn’t do it because I don’t love them as much as the other three. I love them both to pieces and I miss them every day. Despite having always vowed that if I were ever to find myself apart from Ex, all five cats would go with me, I left Friday and Darwin because having five cats in a small apartment would not have been a good situation for them. I had initially offered to let Ex keep Darwin only, because Darwin just adores him and loves him far more than he ever loved me. But Ex wanted Friday too, and even though it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, I agreed to let him keep her. I didn’t want Darwin to be alone, and I knew in my heart that even four cats for one person was a lot.

I never thought it would work out the way it did. I never thought that Ex would end up hating me and I would most likely never get to see Friday and Darwin again. The last time I saw them was last January, when he and I were still on civil terms and I watched his house and both cats while he was on vacation. But by February I had started seeing someone new, and Ex deals with that by despising me. I don’t know if he’s been on any trips out of town since (I would imagine he has), but if he’s needed someone to watch Friday and Darwin he’s chosen someone other than me. I know that he loves them and takes good care of them. I hope that they know that I love them, too. That I did the best I could for them.

I may not have Friday and Darwin anymore, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that they are well loved and cared for. And I do have Angel, Oliver, and Saturday to love and spoil rotten. I love them so much and am so glad that I get to be the one to take care of them and love them.

New House Stuff

I saw my new house last week, and I really like it! It’s an adorable one-story house on a quiet street of well-maintained homes. Amy and I are going to have a busy few weeks packing and preparing to move, and I’m sure time is going to fly by.

My boyfriend very sweetly took me on a neighborhood tour of where I’ll be living yesterday (he knows the Kirkland area way better than I do). I have to say, it’s quite an upgrade from where I live now in Everett. Not that my current neighborhood is bad or anything, but the new area is so pretty!

This morning I emailed my apartment manager and let her know that I was leaving. That was a little sad for me, because she’s been beyond wonderful to me. A year ago when I first met her, I was frantically looking for ANY available place to live. Not only did she work with me every step of the way to make things as easy and affordable as possible, but she went above and beyond to make me comfortable and happy in my new home. I’ve never moved into a rental that was so clean before (and I saw my place before any work was done to it…it was a WRECK).I left a nice review on apartmentratings.com about the place I’ve been living, and thanked my apartment manager for being so fantastic.

I’m getting excited to do all the new-home things: picking out paint colors for my bedroom and new towels to go with the pretty blue bathroom, deciding how to decorate, baking the first batch of cookies in the new kitchen. Amy shares my love of baking so the two of us are going to have to find people to give all our yummy homemade treats to! What I’m NOT so excited about is packing (ugh!) but luckily in my last move I pretty much just took the essentials, so I should be able to knock out the packing in a couple of days.

I’m so excited about our new house, and I can’t wait to be there.

 

 

 

No Excuse Living

This morning, I decided that I’ve had enough.

I woke up feeling like I’d eaten way too much junk food the day before…which, of course, was exactly the case. I got on the scale and the number that glared back at me couldn’t be ignored: I’ve gained fifteen
pounds in not quite a year. That’s a lot. It’s not healthy, and I need to get a grip on myself. I drank some water. I ate some oatmeal and a Greek yogurt for breakfast.

I didn’t have any workout clothes with me. So I wore yesterday’s tank top and a borrowed pair of basketball shorts, and my boyfriend and I worked out together. This made me feel a lot better. I really do love exercise. For some reason, I always have to really talk myself into doing it, but once I’m mid-workout I always feel fantastic.

I got a quick shower and now we are about to leave for Rory’s to watch the Seahawks game. I love watching football with my friends. Today, I need to do it without indulging in chips and salsa, or fries, or beer. No, today I need to start making healthier choices. It will be hard. But better to do it today and quit making excuses for myself. Tomorrow is not soon enough to start taking better care of myself.

I really thought I had won my war with my weight two years ago, when I first achieved my desired weight and then maintained it without dieting or going to too many extremes. No, my strategy was to eat healthy most of the time, enjoy treats on occasion, and work out routinely. This works for me. All the current fad diets may be ways to drop weight quickly, but that’s not what I’m after. I always lose weight dieting and then I always gain the weight right back.

I didn’t gain fifteen pounds because my lifestyle stopped working. I gained it because I ate more junk food than healthy food, and because I allowed myself to miss workouts that I really needed. I can’t keep doing things that way. I know I’m not really happy like that. I want to be healthy and fit. So I’m going to resume doing things that keep me that way.

Today.

No more excuses.

Here I Go Again

Tonight, I’m going to go look at a house. I won’t be doing this alone, though: my friend Amy and I have decided to move in together. It’ll be a new experience for me, since I’ve never lived with a roommate before. Although I’m loathe to move yet again (this will be my fourth home since moving to Washington in 2010), I’m excited to share a house with my friend and to be in a better financial situation. Living alone is expensive, and although it is peaceful, it can definitely get lonely at times. It will be nice to have someone to come home to, to make dinner and bake cookies with, and to drink coffee with in the mornings.

Even though I’ve decided to move out of the apartment I’m in now, I really have come to love that place. When I moved in last December, I fully expected to hate it. I had never chosen a place to live all by myself before, and the one I got was not picked out because I fell in love with it but because it was available and I needed to move quickly. I would have  been far happier to be able to stay in the house I’d lived in back in Marysville, but I just couldn’t afford it on my own. I loved that house and was sad to leave it behind.

To my surprise, I grew to love my little apartment and I will actually be a little sad when I leave it. But I am ready for this new adventure (except for the packing part…I hate packing). I’m eager to be moved, unpacked, and comfortable in the new place, and excited to have my very first roommate!