I'm going to recreate a scene for you, one that occurred about 4 hours ago.
I worked today. Declined a ride home from my coworker because I was out of body wash and needed to go to Walgreens ASAP. Went there, had some time to kill, got a bambino pineapple mint gelato from La Divina on St. Peters. Called my Mom as I waited for the bus, because I was tired of the music on my iPhone. Caught the bus on Rampart, got off at Esplanade and _______, three blocks from my house. Crossed Esplanade, no traffic coming, so I didn't even have to stop. Still talking to my Mom.
As I cross Bayou Rd, I see a red sporty looking car pulled over on the corner and I pass it. I hear a guy in the car say something, kind of like "let me get at you", but I ignore it because I wasn't sure if he was talking to me, since usually men leave me alone if I'm on the phone, and I thought that he might have been on the phone himself. Walking. The next street is Barracks St. As I cross the street, I see the sporty red car screech up to the intersection. Dude stops, turns the car off, and gets out of the car. In the middle of the intersection. Oh, he was talking to me. Shit. I'm already across the street (I'm an Olympic speed walker, even when I'm not in a hurry. But I was definitely in a hurry now). I hear him say "Come here!" as he walks towards me. Now I feel threatened. He sounds pissed that I ignored him. I'm still on the phone with my Mom, though I'm no longer listening to what she's saying. He says it again, and beckons me, though he's still walking towards me. I kind of shock myself by saying, incredulously, "I'm on the phone", as though to say, why are you trying to holler at me while I'm on the goddamn phone, stupid motherfucker? I've now stopped in the middle of the block between Barracks and Gov. Nicholls because I knew that if I kept walking, I would need to start running. He's reached me, and is standing way. too. close. As this happens, the person whose house we're standing in front of comes out onto the porch. I don't know if he saw something through the window, or if he was just coming out to enjoy the 100+ heat index. Crazy guy says some stuff that I can't remember, something about no disrespect and where am I going, and as he says this, he's grabbed my arm, or wrist, I can't really remember. I pull it away, tell him I'm going home, as he's introducing himself as Oscar or something that starts with an O. I shake his hand to appease him, and explain to my Mom, who doesn't seem to understand that I'm not talking to her, that I'm talking to someone else. He asks, "can I roll with you?" What?! Who the fuck asks a girl that they just saw walking down the street if they can go home with them?!?! I tell him what I tell all men who don't seem to understand that just because I'm a young Black woman doesn't mean that I'm going to jump on their dick in the middle of the street. "I'm sorry, I have a boyfriend". He says "ok", actually sounding almost sincere, jumps back into his car and pulls off.
Ok. Crisis avoided. I tell my Mom that I hate men sometimes, because as much as I adore them, I do sometimes just want to start cutting dicks off. As I explain to her what happened, I'm approaching Gov. Nicholls. He's parked at the intersection, I see him pull off out of the corner of my eye as I cross. I'm approaching Ursulines, my block, already dreading what's coming. My voice is shaky, but I'm trying to hide it from my Mom, brushing it off as some loser who was bugging me a little bit. Sure enough, he's parked at the intersection of Ursulines and __________, glaring at me from the driver's seat. I cross the street, cross again to the side where my apartment complex is on, and walk towards my place. I'm trying to think fast, should I go into the complex, where the dog is and I'll feel safe, or should I walk around? Where would I walk, though? To the Ideal up the street? What if he just gets out and harasses me there? What if he sees that I'm wandering and tries to do something to me on the street? I don't think that anyone would stand up for me, and some of those blocks are nearly deserted. I decide to go home. As I'm walking up to the complex, he makes a screechy u-turn and pulls over in front of it. I go inside the gate, calling the dog's name. The beast comes running, and I turn and look at the car. Screeches off. I don't know if it was because of the dog, or because he got what he wanted. He knows where I live.
I still think that I made the right decision. I wouldn't have felt safe wandering around my neighborhood, where someone may or may not see what what happening. He pulled off before he could see where my apartment was, too. I wouldn't have gone back there, though, with him sitting there. I'd like to think that if he came back, the dog wouldn't let him in, but really, he's been getting lax lately. When I was showing the apartment, he got used to strangers coming in and out, and we have a few new tenants who have had a lot of guests recently. He's let a few people in who were harmless, but should have been escorted in by a tenant. Any guests should be met by a tenant, and that's our fault that we're confusing him. I do know that even if this guy somehow figured out which apartment I lived in, he would be attacked before he could break into it. The dog still acts like a bodyguard, and when I'm home, he not only knows where I'm at on the property, but I swear, he knows where I'm at in my house. I did sit down and tell him that I didn't want anyone on the property who wasn't escorted. I'm not crazy, I know that he didn't understand the words, but I hope that he could feel that I'm scared, and that I need him to overprotect, not underprotect, for a while.
I wouldn't be surprised if this guy was a rapist. He became threatening way too fast. I wish that more men had the balls to correct behavior like this when they other men do it, because he probably didn't start that way. He looked like he was in his thirties, maybe even early forties, which, besides being too damn old to be stalking girls who look like teenagers, means that he probably has a long history of harassing women. Trust me, I'm not that goddamn special.
But this is a serious problem in poor and working class communities. It's not even a race thing, though much of the focus of street harassment is put on Black men. I know that in working class white communities, white women hear the same shit. Does it make poor men feel good to know that, as miserable as they may be, there's always some woman who they can make feel worse? Here are some links on street harassment, for your education and mine.
I'm think I'm going to pick up that Swiss Army knife that we sell at the store that I work at on Tuesday. I've been eying it for a while, but kept telling myself that it wasn't as important as some other purchases that I wanted to make. Now it feels extremely important.
"You want me to play with your dick, baby? Sure, I'll do it in the middle of the street, but only if my 4-inch serrated blade can join us." -- Me, in my dreams tonight, as I fondle the 12-inch kitchen knife that will be my bedmate.