Thursday, January 22, 2009
When I was younger me and the fellas would hang outside and catcall all the pretty girls that would walk by.
It was what young guys who had absolutely no game about themselves and nothing better to do did to try to get the attention of young women.
It is always done in groups where courage against what you didn't understand can be drawn from your buddies.
Back then the idea was to be funny, charming, persuading a girl to give you the attention you wanted and eventually those digits.
Rejection was part of the game and to save face a rude remark would go flying hard at the girl who dared turn her nose up a little too high at you.
But it was something on the lines of "you ain't all that anyway", a small measure to save face in front of your boys, who wouldn't hesitate to let you have it despite the fact that they too got shot down in other colorful forms.
That was about as far as it went though.
It was all part of growing up, boys figured out what worked and what didn't in the safety of their comrades and girls learned to be selective and to get tough.
My favorites were always the ones who had a slick mouth, shooting back comebacks as fast as I gave them.
It was all in fun then, when we were all feeling each other out.
That was then.
Somewhere between the 80's and 90's something changed drastically.
A cold blooded mean streak developed in some men, where women no longer became someone you won over but "something" you conquered.
It went from us getting with them into us vs them.
When women walk the street it is as if they are outsiders in who have to pay tribute before crossing into the territory that is man.
I to tell the truth have been completely oblivious to it, hell it has been awhile since I have seen it take place.
But by all accounts by women this goes on with the full gusto.
The topic has been brought up before by various bloggers with various degrees of effect on me.
Some of the writing and videos made me shake my head and wag my finger, shame on those bad men and just as quickly out of sight and out of my mind.
Others made me question the purpose of the video, as if it had a black male bashing agenda than an actual message of street harassment.
Either way I didn't get it, it didn't stick, it was something that happened "over there" so I had no reason to take it seriously, when I walk the streets with a woman I do not hear a sound, when i am not there I am not there.
That's how I felt about it till this old video popped up.......
This made me real uncomfortable because of the familiarity of the situation, this I understood completely better than any other public service video that was out there ranting against street harassment.
Reason why is because I have been in crowds like that, where packs of men would commit assault on women passing by.
Back in the 90's Atlanta had an event that started off as a quasi college spring break/roving block party.
It wasn't long before the name changed into Freaknik, a name to fit an event where men and women took flirting to extremes.
That was where I first saw a woman sexually assaulted, men surrounded a car where the girls were flashing them and proceeded to grope them through the window.
Things got out of hand quickly as the women went from laughing and teasing, to shock and fear at what was being done to them.
Windows were busted, the hood was dented in on their car, as men jumped on for a better view, a better reach.
The driver with fear in her eyes forced the car through the traffic and the crowd trying to make their escape.
I witnessed similar incidents like this all over the city during Freaknik, each year it got worse and the city finally had enough and did whatever they could to undermine the event, till it finally stopped.
But the truth was the cops didn't have to do a thing, women stopped feeling safe so they stopped coming.
It was as good as dead then.
Now this is an extreme version of street harassment, but it brought things into perspective, I understood that the catcalling was just a first step in the genesis of this behavior.
Now I am no psychologist or scholar that can explain how these actions by these men is a form of oppression against women.
How their assaults is a way to put fear in women's hearts and thus gain some type of control over them.
I can't break it down like that or understand it that way, I don't know that way.
But what I do know is thugs, Ive been surrounded by them all my life, I know how that mind works because my mind worked that way.
I understand this behavior for what it is, dominance, it is saying that no matter what you do, where you go, who you are with, you are beneath me.
You belong to me and I can do whatever I like to you no matter what.
You are my bitch in every definition of the term.
You can't get any simpler than that.
But I want you to remember that I used the word thugs to describe these men because those are the exact type of men who do this.
You see Freaknik didn't go to hell because of college boys with fast mouths and girls with short skirts, it went to hell the moment the men and women who didn't go to college showed up.
Older men and women who never went to college, but wanted to party, started showing up.
This was followed by teenagers skipping school to join in, then you had strippers, prostitutes, pimps, gang bangers, and drug dealers popping up looking to get paid.
It became a deviant gold rush, that's when thing got serious and very unsafe.
The reason I bring this up is that to solve a problem you have to address the cause, the disease if you will.
Let's be real here, women are not the problem, you can build up little girl's and women's self esteem all you want.
Have all the women rights organizations and girl gatherings you want, make all the videos, and blog all you want, scream to the high heavens about how bad these men are.
Tell yourself that you are in control of your life and you can do whatever you want.
But if men and particularly those type of men ain't listening then what?
If the "gold" standard of women, Michelle Obama, walked through that crowd of men in the above video she would have got groped like the rest of them.
Cause on the streets it is you and them.
That boys and girls is real.
The disease is not even black men but criminal black men, thugs, basic to poorly educated, lower working class to unemployed, men who grew up in neighborhoods where violence, crime and poverty were the norm.
Until those issues are addressed I don't believe street harassment is going anywhere, when you are at the bottom of the muck barrel of society you are going to look for anything or rather anyone to step on to make you feel that you are that much higher in the world.
And black women, no matter her status, is always seen as the stool for this purpose.
That's the way I see it, get men off the streets and you break the street mentality that is fed by their station in life and women can feel safer walking the streets than they do now, not much safer but safer nonetheless.