It’s hard to rejoice in your femininity when you’re under constant attack because of it. I used to think that my body was disgusting and that’s why I invited such nastiness.
I didn’t come up with that on my own. It was drilled into me from a very young age – down to my very first memory - and reinforced through my school years. I’ve had well-meaning aunts give me advice on liposuction to reduce my butt. In case I forget, random strangers regularly remind me of my ass.
Now it’s clear to me that this is something all women deal with on a regular basis. A recent post on Rookie Mag highlighted this. Get a few women talking about this, and you’ll find out they all have stories to share.
As a kid, street harassment was just something weird that happened. By the time I went to college I found it disgusting but I’d accepted it and gotten used to it. But there were times when it went beyond harassment.
I’d fallen asleep on the bus on my way to class. I was a full time student and had asix-hours a day job to get me trough school. I woke up disoriented but with the sense that something was off. I was by the window and an older man was sitting next to me, eyes closed, arms crossed, his head hanging by his chest, bouncing up and down with the movement of the bus as we made our way towards downtown Bogotá.
I was about to fall back asleep when I felt something move on my thigh. Looking down I saw that his hand had been inching across my thigh and was almost at my crotch.
Besides the catcallers there have been exhibitionists, masturbators, and swarms of kids circling around to try to steal my bus money and get a hand up my crotch.
It wasn’t until I found out about iHollaback a few years ago that I started to question having to simply take this. It was when I began to fight street harassment in my own small way and stand up to it. I started to try to dress without fear of the men I might encounter on the way to where I was going and just dress the way I want to dress.
I started wearing colors and more flattering clothes. I liked what I saw in the mirror.
Which might have made dealing with the subway attack that much harder.
I’m working on getting more comfortable. On Day 4 I had to go to Home Depot. I wore a skirt because it was a lovely summer day and it’s what I wanted to wear.
On Day 4, Skirts 1, Pervs 0.
It was a good day.