It’s getting to the point where I can feel it in my posture. The inevitability of street harassment makes my shoulders tense up before I even leave my house. I don’t make eye contact on the street, ever, but especially with men. I wear headphones all the time anyway, but because of them, I probably don’t hear things that are said to me when I’m walking, for better or worse. None of these things stop street harassment, of course, but at least it makes it easier to get where I need to go.
Recently, photographer Hannah Price used her camera to document the faces of men who street harass, taking a picture of them in the moment immediately following their catcall. In an NPR interview Price remarked, “Just turning the photograph on them kind of gives them a feel of what it’s like to be in a vulnerable position…. It’s a different dynamic — but it’s just another way of dealing with the experience, of trying to understand it.”
Last Thursday as I was standing outside of my apartment building with a friend, a stranger approached me from behind and slapped me, very hard, on my rear end.
The moment reminded me of the time I was in a minor car accident, so physically jarring that I was rendered speechless. My friend yelled a few choice words at the stranger, a tall white man in a dark jacket. He paused, and with his back to us, lifted both his hands in the V sign, like Richard Nixon on the steps of the plane after his resignation. Then he went on his way.
Like most women who live in big cities, I am harassed on the street every single day, and I almost never talk about it. Thursday night was the second time in my life that I was physically hassled; the first was eight years ago on a Jewish service learning trip to Ukraine, when a stranger in Kiev pinched my ass. A Russian-speaking friend who saw it happen told him off.