love, lust, and the in-between: thoughts on street harassment

{trigger warning: discussion of street harassment, sexual coercion}

in the spirit of some of my other musings (see: the slutty posts and the "what's natural" piece), i'd like to share something that's been on my mind, even though it might get me yelled at.

well...maybe not.  every time i've thought that was going to happen, it hasn't.  instead i get yelled at for things i think are pretty straightforward.  go figure.

each year as spring and summer take their sweet time getting here approach, sistas in my internet circles start speaking out about what's commonly known as street harassment.

i understand the concerns, particularly when there is actual physical intrusion involved.  and, as always, age, class, sexuality and certain physical characteristics can serve as buffers and offer privilege.  

i know the game has changed.  case in point: my ex was stabbed 'cause a woman wouldn't give a dude her number, and he intervened when the dude got outta hand. 

i know there are intersections with domestic violence, rape, coercion and other forms of sexual violence. i stand with women who feel uncomfortable being approached in an overt and/or crude manner--for whatever reason(s)--and i defend their right to defend themselves, if necessary. 

i also agree that some men are too quick to presume all women are comfortable with the same level(s) of approach, touch, and closeness.  i am not better, more special, nicer or "easier" than my friend because i'll let you hug me or rub my shoulders after knowing you for an hour (if you're cute.  maybe. ask me tomorrow.) and she won't.

we are not all the same woman in different skin.  stop that.

no, we should not be called outta our names.
no, a stranger should never fondle his genitals at the sight of you.
no, men shouldn't hiss, click, whistle or snap when they can otherwise speak.

our anger at those things is justified, a righteous, powerful tool that propels us towards gaining our just due.

yes, men should know better.
yes, male egos shouldn't be so fragile.

but...i also see complexity in this. 

as a daddy's girl and a woman who deeply loves men, i sometimes regret the ways we have this conversation.  it's a shame we've come to a reality where a woman has to consider all this when receiving an appreciative--albeit lusty--glance* or a good-intentioned request for a smile.**

i wonder what's been lost because many women have difficult, non existent, or deeply damaged relationships with their fathers and other men in their lives.  how does it hurt us when we've never lived with a man who was genuinely invested in our unique gifts and general awesomeness?

what would happen if we could hear a brotha say, "wow...you're beautiful" and genuinely reply, "thank you"--whether we wanted to exchange information or not?

i ask because i have a tendency to dig until i get to the root.  and in this situation, the root doesn't always feel like sexism or street harassment. it feels like broken hearts and shattered trusts.

as we fight against patriarchy, kyriarchy, and an encyclopedia's worth of -isms, it's important to understand the layers of interpersonal healing woven into these structures.

intellectualizing and analysis is very necessary, but we must avoid using it as a heart-shield.  remember to fight the real enemies, heal the real wounds, mourn the real losses. 

it is essential that we find time to love, to enjoy one another, fall into bliss.

i believe there are moments when we can afford that.

let's not lose that in the struggle.

*which they ALL do. even the sweet, artsy, wonderfully enlightened ones. hell, especially them. often, it's what they do AFTER the glance that matters.

**which might actually be genuine, if corny or ill-timed.  

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