Strength is Exhausting

by Michelle

I have been thinking a lot about street harassment lately. As a woman I find it infuriating that if I choose not to respond to a stranger hollering unsolicited “compliments” at me I am somehow being rude. The truth is, I am uncomfortable and they don’t care and continue to push. I have had men follow me several blocks on my way to brunch loudly asking me if I “don’t like the chocolate” when in truth I just don’t like creeps who can’t take a hint or a blatant “leave me alone.” The worst of it happened last friday as I walked home from Home Depot in Bedstuy down Dekalb. A group of men that I passed by said the usual obscene things about the largeness of my booty which I chose to ignore; because why should I acknowledge someone that speaks to me this way? I get about 15 feet away from them when they start throwing rocks at me. HARD. It hurt and I was so shocked I cried out. I looked back and them and they were laughing like I somehow deserved this because my panties didn’t immediately fall off at their clumsy advances. Not a second later, two cops came around the corner and the men left me alone. I am not sure where this exchange would have gone if the cops had not come around the corner, but it was disheartening to say the least. I wish I knew how to begin to address this gender imbalance. I’ve never felt unsafe in my own neighborhood, but as I examined the large red welts on my naked back, I began to cry. It had been a rough couple of weeks and being attacked that way only added to the pain. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the thought process behind this type of behavior towards women. I was feeling lost before and now even more so. I don’t know what I came looking for when I moved to New York but I honestly don’t think the sadness will lift. I’m strong and I know I can make it, but strength is exhausting.