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Just A Smack On The Ass: A Tale Of Sexual Assault, Vengeance And Nervous Swearing

jhameia:

sexgenderbody:

(via Robyn Shepherd & ACLU @ DailyKos)

By Robyn Shepherd, ACLU

Last month, the Center for Liberty’s Louise Melling blogged about how street harassment shames and humiliates women, and is underreported because of the stigma attached to it. While that blog was making the editing rounds here  at the office, I shared my own story of how I dealt with a particularly obnoxious harasser, and my esteemed colleagues suggested I share it. Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, after all, here it is. And there’s gonna be swearing. I’m really sorry in advance (Mom).

I was walking to work last April, listening to a friend’s CD and not thinking of much besides that I was a little late to work, and really ought to hustle to make my train. A dude passed me as I walked, and I didn’t think much of that either.

All of a sudden…WHAM! Dude WALLOPED me on the backside and ran off.

No one saw it happen. But the gentle denizens of the Upper  East Side sure knew something happened, because I let out an unholy yell and a good, throaty “FUCK YOU!!” I turned to see the dude hustling away in his blue and tan jacket and tan backpack.

I hesitated a moment. Did that really just happen? What should I do? Just go on with my day? I’m not sure I want to do that. And I’m pretty sure that if I just let this go, and act like it’s no big deal, or it was “just a smack on the ass,” I’m gonna feel pretty rotten about it for a long time to come. And my butt was really sore. He really went for it.

So I ran after the dude.

It’s possible this guy was crazy. This was something I needed to determine, and also I wanted to get a description, since by this point I had decided that if I was going to be late to work pursuing this mofo, I was damn well gonna call the police. I caught up to him as he was going into the Citibank.

“Hey asshole!” He looked up. He was about 20. Clean-cut. Like he was on his way to school. He did not look crazy. I think he was surprised. I think he figured the five-foot-tall redhead in the sundress and Mary Janes would have just said “Oh my stars!” and scampered away. He does not know this five-foot-tall redhead.

“You think that shit is funny? You like hitting women, huh? You think that’s the correct way to act? Whatsamatterwityou?” All of a sudden, I was Joe Pesci. I swear a lot when I’m nervous. It’s a terrible habit. Perhaps you’ve caught on.

“Ma’am I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know goddamn well what I’m talking about. YOU DON’T HIT WOMEN, ASSHOLE.” At this point I was screaming into the bank. The whole lobby was looking at me.

Dude got in my face. And this is where it gets kind of hilarious. “How dare you disrespect me in public?” he said. Oh. My. God. He. Did. Not. “I mean, call the police or something, but don’t embarrass me like that. Fuck you.”

It was now clear I was not necessarily dealing with a lunatic. But I was dealing with a moron.

“Good idea, buddy. I WILL call the police.” I called 911 and told them about the incident and the coordinates.

While I was on the phone he got in my face again. “Fuck you, bitch.”
Me: “Fuck ME? Fuck YOU!!!…
Me (to operator: “I’m sorry, ma’am it’s just he’s antagonizing me.”
Him: “You calling the police?”
Me: “Goddamn right I am.”
Him: “Fine. Fuck the police. Fuck you.”
Me: “Tell ‘em so yourself!”

He started walking away after that. The 911 lady advised me to stay put. Good call. I figured I had enough of him without backup. The police came a few minutes later, and I told them the story. I told them I knew they dealt with bigger things than this. But if it doesn’t get reported, it will keep happening. And maybe we can scare this dude enough that that will be one less guy hitting women in the street. The cops had me ride around in the car with them to see if we could find them. (Incidentally, those squad cars? Absolutely no legroom to speak of. In case you ever need extra incentive to not get arrested. Not comfy.)

We couldn’t find him, but the cops (there were four of them by the end of this) took my statement and contact info. They commended me on my description. Which is good, as that validates a lot of Law and Order viewing.

I’m realistic. I knew they were never going to arrest this guy. But here’s the thing, and the point to this whole long, profane story. I know there are a lot of people who think it wasn’t that big a deal. But the truth of the matter is, what this guy did was sexual assault. “Forcible touching and harassment,” if you want to get specific.

Sexual assault doesn’t always necessarily mean something as horrible as rape. And too often street harassment is unreported, and douchebags like this think they can get away with it because the girl is gonna be too embarrassed or too meek to do anything about it. Or they think it’s “just a slap on the ass.” And that’s not right, you guys. I don’t know how other women feel about their posteriors, but you don’t very well get to smack the hell out of it willy-nilly because you feel entitled to do so. There will be repercussions.

To the NYPD’s credit, they did follow up, and the detective told me that if I really wanted to press charges, she would help me do that, even if it meant looking through a lot of surveillance tape and looking at lineups and all that stuff. I opted not to, figuring that they had this guy’s description, and if he did it again, he’d be in a lot of trouble. But something tells me he’s not going to. I think I scared him. Or as the detective said, “So you ran up and confronted him and screamed at him in a bank.”

“Yep.”

“…Awesome.”

I know what happened to me could have been a lot, lot worse. But someone doesn’t have to be raped to be humiliated, violated and hurt. Sometimes, all it takes is a smack on the ass.

Awesome. “How dare you disrespect me in public” indeed. WTF.

One Friday afternoon I was talking to school, wearing the baju kurung (quote unquote the more modest school uniform option). A old man on a motorbike puttered up a little behind me and reached to squeeze my ass. Since it WAS a baju kurung, I couldn’t run after him (and I wished I had, because he was on one of those cheapo Boon Siew motorbikes) but I yelled “fuck you” after him. 

I get so angry when folks accuse women of wearing sexy clothing or doing something to attract a man’s attention and sexual harassment. No, assholes, we get sexually harassed simply by existing as women. We are raped and harassed even while wearing perfectly modest clothing that reveals nothing. We are humiliated even while we’re doing something as mundane as walking to school.

I’ve mentioned before that a few years ago I made the decision to confront men on the street who verbally harassed other women or myself. I actually don’t get street comments so much, but I see it happen to other women All. The. Time. (I live in NYC, just like the OP.)

Some men respond to my chastisement with surprise, but most respond with anger and defensiveness. Like, how dare I get in their business and call attention to them. It is a private matter, them talking to women they don’t know on the streets in completely inappropriate ways.

It takes a lot of spoons to confront harassers in this way, and I don’t always have enough at a given moment to do it. Sometimes I’m on my way to work, or rushing elsewhere, or tired, or in an area where, if said guy decided to act in a dangerous manner, there is little hope of backup or even witnesses. And some days I’m just damn tired. 

But I try to do what I can because I truly think that confrontation sows a small seed of hesitation. That ass-smacking asshole is going to pause before acting impulsively at least the first few times the thought comes into his head. And if he does do it again, I hope that if the woman on the other end of his attentions doesn’t have the spoons to chase him down and scream at him again, someone around her will. 

From The Angry Black Tumblr | Comment below or Reblog @ Tumblr

5 comments to Just A Smack On The Ass: A Tale Of Sexual Assault, Vengeance And Nervous Swearing

  • Parsley Victorious

    There’s so much awesome in this post that it’s hard to know what to say, but:

    “Some men respond to my chastisement with surprise, but most respond with anger and defensiveness. Like, how dare I get in their business and call attention to them. It is a private matter, them talking to women they don’t know on the streets in completely inappropriate ways.”

    This. It’s the sense of entitlement that kills me, the sense that they should be able to do whatever they like, without consequence, because they’re the only person who actually matters. If someone else gets hurt, or angry, or offended, it doesn’t really matter, because hey, -I- came out of it just fine.

    It’s disgusting.

  • Rebecca Ore

    Yay. I had a kid, maybe 12 years old, grab one of my breasts in a NY subway station under Mott Street, and I yelled and chased him. I don’t know what I’d done if I’d caught him, but when he looked back over his shoulder, he was terrified. He’d never considered that a woman would do anything other than squeal.

  • Farah

    Fantastic story.

    It happened to me first when I was fifteen and a school librarian. It was definitely meant as a piece of bullying. But I have a temper and I tend to think (and hyper ventilate) after, so it was only when I realised that people were clapping in the school library that I also realised I’d grabbed him by the collar (and him six inches taller than me) and forcibly escorted him out of the library.

    I’m not always that brave/insane but I do believe we shouldn’t let these things go. Nothing like a little world changing.
    .

  • Ulysses Not Yet home

    Tase, and then stomp while incapicated

  • Caroline

    Great story. When I was 16 and working in my mother’s restaurant 4 business men came in to have a meeting over lunch. One of them, I think he was trying to impress the others, decided to slap me on the ass. He didn’t even have time to put his fork back down before I cleared his plate out from under him and asked him to leave. Before he said anything, i also informed him and his coworkers that he had just harassed not just a women, but one that was underage. He came over and tried to offer me money to stay and I told him that I did not only not want his bribe, but also that his meal was on me and that we didn’t want money from “his kind.” I was working 6 days a week trying to help my mom start a business, and I was not about to take that from anyone.