“I want to apologize to all the women that I’ve harassed with statements like ‘hi’ or ‘have a nice day’ or ‘you’re beautiful,’” [SNL comedian Michael] Che wrote on Facebook after watching the video. “I can’t imagine what that must feel like.”
I can’t tell you what it feels like, either.
I can’t tell you what it feels like to go out in public alone, completely terrified of a random stranger approaching me and even touching me.
Being told I am beautiful or to have a good day or even a simple hello has been stigmatized completely because of the street harassment that occurs on a regular basis.
Why do I say that?
I say that because it HAPPENED to me. It HAPPENS every single day everywhere, to anybody. A majority of that anybody, girls? Yes.
It happened in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, at 10:00pm, Labor Day weekend, when a man in his late 50s, old enough to be my father, followed me and eventually decided to stick his hand up my black skirt and quickly reach my underwear line, holding direct eye contact while I shoved his hand away and busted out crying in the middle of the Epicenter. He stood as my friends crowded around me a couple feet away, watching with a stupid, twisted smirk on his face as a trauma ensued and my night was ruined.
It happened at a gas station in Mebane, North Carolina, right before you get on the interstate, at 9:30pm, where I was subject to a SUV of 20-something guys approaching me one at a time, trying to get my number or social network username. When I refused the first, he promptly shouted “next one!” and a new guy emerged from the dark black doors. When I said no each time, they would reach out to stroke my arm, or bite their lip and beg like a dog, the taste of beer escaping their mouths and enveloping me in a never pleasant scent.
It happened when we had construction work done at our house, and the men who sat on the front porch for lunch in their late 30s in the afternoons watched my hips move – if I had hips at all, then – and the fabric resting on them steadily swing as I climbed the stairs, feeling their eyes and their sick libido hit the roof. I heard “Que linda!” and elbows knocking to signal watching my 13 year old self come home from school.
It happens when I am a couple miles downtown from my own university with a bunch of girlfriends, and after several minutes pass by, we feel someone watching us, following us, studying us. Why? Because they deem us beautiful; their hands close enough to touch, their face so close I can feel their staggered breathing, their eyes wild and crazy, desperate to give attention to a woman that walks past, chasing unconformity.
So, Michael Che, let me ask you this: when you think a stranger is beautiful, do you stick your hand up their skirt without permission? Do you corner them at gas stations and refuse to leave until they respond or give you a smile?
Because, if you do, you do NOT want to imagine what this must feel like, you ARE harassing them, you ARE a piece of shit, and it NEEDS to stop.