Too many times in my life, I have had to suffer through street harassment alone. Saying nothing is not the solution to it. We have to stand up for ourselves with the help of others too.
I was walking to my local cafe in the morning to get a cup of the strong black stuff, and a cyclist rode up on the sidewalk. He stopped right next to me and invaded my personal space, just to ogle me as I passed. It was done to belittle me and threaten my safety and comfort. I gave him the finger, kept walking, earbuds in, and that was it. He’s not going to own any space in my head, I said to myself, so I tried to shrug it off after it happened.
Mere moments later, a man and woman pushing a stroller with a young toddler inside came up to me. They said they had seen the entire thing. “He just tried to ogle you!” the man exclaimed. “Yeah, that’s why I gave him the finger, he made me feel uncomfortable.”
I told him he was a shitty person for doing that,” he said. Immediately, a surge of solidarity and happiness coursed through me. “Aw, bless your kind soul! What did he say?” “He ignored us.”
Phewf. “Thank you so much for speaking up.” I shook their hands with so much gratitude. I couldn’t believe they went to bat for me in a world where almost no one ever has. “I apologize on behalf of my gender,” he then added. I stopped and looked at him, his wife, and their beautiful child who will grow up understanding the importance of treating women with respect. That’s how to be an ally. We don’t need much. Just say something if you see something and make sure the woman is OK. That’s all we ask.