Tag Archives: stopstreetharassment.org

Street Harassment: Biking Edition

I’m pretty rattled about this incident, so bear with me.

I was coming north on Ave B, just passing the Williamsburg bridge. A fellow cyclist went ahead of me in the bike lane. For about a block we did this awkward thing where we were sort of going the same speed, but then he’d slow down and I’d go outside to pass him, but then he’d speed up again so I’d back off. This happened 3 or 4 times. At the intersection I made a move to pass him and he yelled at me ‘Watch it, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?!’ I hadn’t passed him closely at all, everyone had plenty of safe space. Now we were sort of next to one another so I said ‘I’m just trying to maintain my speed.’ He replied ‘Why the fuck are you trying to pass me?’ This sounded arrogant and completely illogical and I was starting to feel angry so I said ‘Just mind your own fucking business and keep your eyes on the road.’ I tried to speed up. He sped up next to me and unleashed a torrent of hateful language. I remember fucking bitch and who the fuck do you think you are and something about what a slut I was for biking around in a skirt and how I should cover up my filthy cunt. I tried to slow down to let him go ahead, but he slowed down and wouldn’t proceed without me. He even insulted my bike, and her fucking sparkles.

this is my sparkly bike, sparkle pony.

I was starting to feel threatened, and unsafe. His tone was not joking, he was purposely staying with me, and he’d noticed my totally noticeable and not at all commonplace bike, which he could certainly see again in the future and remember. I wondered if I should try and get my phone to take a picture, but my phone wasn’t accessible and I’m always at yelling people holding their phones while riding. I wished I could magically manifest some of the cards this dope chick has been making, so I could throw up a whole handful and make it rain on him and hopefully distract him long enough to pedal to safety.  As we were approaching Houston Street I sped up like I was going to fly through the intersection, and so did he. Just before getting 1/2 way across I abruptly stopped, which PS was probably super dangerous, and I turned my bike to head east towards Ave C. He was ahead of me and didn’t see me right away so he was through the intersection and he didn’t turn around. His rants faded as I pedaled east, looking behind me every few minutes and hoping he didn’t turn east ahead of me to meet back up. He didn’t.

this is my awesome dad, ken dill, instilling a love of bikes in me at a tender young age
this is my awesome dad, ken dill, instilling a love of bikes in me at a tender young age

So, what is it, I wondered, that set him off? I pedaled all the way home, unsteady, turning over in my head what had occurred. Was it that I deigned to pass him? Because dudes are always stronger and faster than girls? Does he have something against lady riders in general? Too much freedom and autonomy? Too much joy? Too much leg? I couldn’t figure it out.


But it doesn’t matter. Not one bit. Because I’m allowed to ride a bike. It’s fun, it’s economical, and it’s good for the environment. And I’m allowed to bike in dresses. If my thighs offend you, look at something else. And I’m allowed to pass you. I’m allowed to ride at whatever speed I judge to be appropriate, so long as I am not putting other riders/cars/pedestrians in danger. But isn’t it fascinating how quickly this conversation went from urban cycling to what a bitch/slut/cunt I am? I mean, he could have insulted my riding skills, or continued to claim I wasn’t practicing good bike safety etiquette. He could have just called me a jerk or a butt head. Alas, it was straight to bitch. That ubiquitous insult with no male equivalent (except for bitch, which is insulting because it implies you are acting like a woman.) How quickly he leapt to assume that I was a wanton harlot due to the fact that I had a bike seat between my legs and there was skin visible above my knees.

sparkle with one of her friends, my besties claire bear's bike from back in the day
sparkle with one of her friends, my besties claire bear’s bike from back in the day

Also: if you are reading this and thinking in horror ‘god that dude is an asshole and terrible and I wish things like that never happened’, but you don’t get why women complain about cat calling, please take my hand and allow me to show you the connection. In this case, the original exchange between us was unpleasant, however the scariest moment was when he escalated. It took a turn from a cycling disagreement to what a bitch/slut I was, and then he physically wouldn’t leave. This pattern also happens when the conversation starts with a ‘hey baby’ or ‘damn girl you look good’ etc. You can never tell when an innocuous compliment is going to to turn lewd, vulgar, or aggressive depending on how you do or do not react. This is why ‘compliments’ are not fun to receive, because they feel like ticking time bombs. So spread the word about how it really feels to be cat called or harassed on the street, and don’t do it yourself (unless there is an obvious vibe and eye contact and you’re a grown up I know you can figure it out on your own) and also check out these great folks and their work: SSH & Hollaback!


I was coming home with a small token of celebration for my partner last night. Nothing extravagant, just wanted to take a moment to point out an accomplishment I think is pretty cool. And instead I came home upset, shaken, and thoroughly un-joyful. I showered and shook off the encounter. But I will never forget his face, or the feeling in the pit of my stomach, or the fact that our interaction is part of a web of similar interactions between men and the women they harass (#YesAllWomen). These interactions create a ubiquitous feeling of danger in public places. And instead of jumping to protect the right of women to do whatever the fuck they want to the same degree as men, as a culture we say things like ‘well maybe you shouldn’t bike in that skirt‘ and ‘what do you expect when you dress that way‘ and ‘you shouldn’t be going out alone at night‘ and ‘are you sure you didn’t do anything to lead him on‘ and ‘gosh, can’t you just take a compliment.’

no gif

And I said the same thing to myself. You shouldn’t have engaged with him, you shouldn’t have cursed at him. But fuck that. I did what any reasonable person would have done when they were shouted at. I’m not going to stay quiet because you have some ego-maniacle malfunction. Fuck you bro. I am still gonna bike and sing up and down the east side of this island. I’m gonna go to yoga, run errands, meet up with friends and commute to my fucking big girl job. And I’m going to always wear a helmet because fucking safety. More and more women are biking, so you’ll have to get used to us, or relinquish the road. Sparkle and I aren’t going anywhere. And neither are my thighs. Grow up. Shut up. Get a helmet, and while you’re at it try seeing women as actual human beings. Maybe then we can all get where we are going a little more safely.


Female Privilege: It’s actually Patriarchy, You’re confused, Go Home.

Here is an article making its way through my newsfeed called 18 Things Females Seem Not to Understand (Because, Female Priviledge.)



bunch of malarky

In fact, that’s such a huge bunch of malarky I brought ole’ Joe back to point it out. Here is the really really misinformed and stupid list, with my rebuttals in italics. Please note, this is not rocket science, its patriarchy.

1. Female privilege is being able to walk down the street at night without people crossing the street because they’re automatically afraid of you. Male privilege is being able to go wherever you want whenever you want without the fear of sexual assault. It’s being able to walk up to your door late at night casually, without turning down your music and having your keys ready and looking over your shoulder to be sure you aren’t being followed. (1/6 of women nationwide will experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. An assault will occur every 2 minutes.)

2. Female privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labeled “creepy.” Male privilege is being able to walk down the street without being bombarded with comments on your appearance as a reminder that your body is not your own. It’s being able to enjoy an adult beverage without worrying about being groped or hit on constantly. 

3. Female privilege is being able to get drunk and have sex without being considered a rapist. Female privilege is being able to engage in the same action as another person but be considered the innocent party by default. Male privilege is being able express yourself sexually without fear of being called a slut. It’s being able to let your guard down with friends/strangers without fearing assault or date rape. And that article you link doesn’t mean what you think it means…

4. Female privilege is being able to turn on the TV and see yourself represented in a positive way. Female privilege is shows like King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond where women are portrayed as attractive, competent people while men are shown as ugly, lazy slobs. Male privilege is living in a world where men are heroes, actors, adventurers and villains. It’s a world where you aren’t constantly represented as the sidekick or in need of rescuing, or hyper sexualized.  PS The examples listed are definitely harmful, because patriarchal ideas/images are also harmful to men.

5. Female privilege is the idea that women and children should be the first rescued from any sort of emergency situation. Female privilege is saving yourself before you save others and not being viewed as a monster. Um, children should be rescued first. But without valid stats I refuse to believe that this is a valid concern in this century unless you’re watching Titanic.

6. Female privilege is being able to decide not to have a child. Male privilege is never having to worry about unwanted pregnancy. It’s never having to bear and give birth to a baby, wanted or unwanted. It’s being able to walk away. 

7. Female privilege is not having to support a child financially for 18 years when you didn’t want to have it in the first place. If a man is paying child support, a woman is actually caring for the child. Being a single parent is not a privilege. Also see #6.

8. Female privilege is never being told to “take it like a man” or “man up.” This is patriarchy working against men, but while we are on the subject of name calling: male privilege is never being called a bitch, slut, cunt or whore for any number of actions including but not limited too looking sexy, not looking sexy enough, wanting sex, not wanting sex, walking down the street, existing in public spaces, not speaking, speaking, riding a bike, having a drink, accepting a drink, not accepting a drink, breathing. 

9. Female privilege is knowing that people would take it as a gravely serious issue if someone raped you. Female privilege is being able to laugh at a “prison rape” joke. No one should laugh at prison rape jokes and if they do they’re not nice. Also, every compassionate person I know takes rape seriously regardless of who the victim is. Also plenty of people don’t take rape seriously for men or women, because those people are ignorant and heartless.

10. Female privilege is being able to divorce your spouse when your marriage is no longer working because you know you will most likely be granted custody of your children. The burden of childcare should be given to whomever is most capable. Any imbalance is evidence of a faulty justice system. 

11. Female privilege is being able to call the police in a domestic dispute knowing they will take your side. Female privilege is not having your gender work against where police are involved. Male privilege is being 60% less likely to be the victim of domestic violence. Oh, and the police have been known to ask questions such as ‘Why’d you lead him on?’ and ‘What’d you do to provoke him.’

12. Female privilege is being able to be caring or empathetic without people being surprised. Please be more caring and empathetic. Not having to be caring or empathetic is actually a male privilege, and it sucks for EVERYONE.

13. Female privilege is not having to take your career seriously because you can depend on marrying someone who makes more money than you do. Female privilege is being able to be a “stay at home mom” and not seem like a loser. Um, seriously? Male privilege is not having to worry, ever, about balancing the needs of your career with the needs of your home. It’s not feeling pressure to be awesome at your job and a super mom. It’s not having to deal with the ‘to Lean In or Not Lean In’ debate. Dependence is not a privilege. PS Stay at home dads are awesome. 

14. Female privilege is being able to cry your way out of a speeding ticket. You got me. Crying my way out of a ticket totally makes up for centuries of second class citizen-ship, sexual slavery and forced marriage, an ongoing sexual violence epidemic, and the fact that women on this very day in 2014 still make 77c on the dollar of men

15. Female privilege is being favored by teachers in elementary, middle and high school. Female privilege is graduating high school more often, being accepted to more colleges, and generally being encouraged and supported along the way. Since you have no stats to back this up, I’m assuming this is based on personal experience. I’m sorry if you felt this way, but I can assure you there is not a conspiracy among educators to favor girls (although there is a very real achievement gap, it’s not along gender lines.) 

16. Female privilege being able to have an opinion without someone tell you you’re just “a butthurt fedora-wearing neckbeard who can’t get any.” Yea that does seem hurtful. So do words like bitch, slut, cunt and whore, which are plastered all over the comments on any female opinion disseminated on the web. 

17. Female privilege is being able to talk about sexism without appearing self-serving. Actually, when women talk about sexism it’s a matter of survival. 

18. Female privilege is arrogantly believing that sexism only applies to women. Sexism obviously doesn’t only apply to women and no educated person I know would claim that. However, it is not applied equally. The patriarchy is hurtful to people of all genders and all sexualities, and the work of feminism is to defeat the patriarchy and thus free us all from it’s dangerous confines. This article is proof of rampant misunderstanding and a heartbreaking lack of empathy. 


Patriarchy is damaging to us all, and this article is a weird and twisted expression of that. However, when men are adversely affected by patriarchal rules and standards, that does not equate to women having ‘privileges.’ This dude is in serious need of some Miss Representation education, in the form of this upcoming documentary ‘The Mask You Live In.‘ The more that articles like this circulate, the more the pernicious and disgusting rumor that men and women are enemies will flourish. We are not from separate planets, we are not opposites, we are not natural adversaries. We are all caught in a system with inequality at it’s core, and we should all fight to unravel the rules and regulations that limit our growth and potential.


PS It’s important to remember and acknowledge that while we are all constrained by patriarchy, historically speaking, the rules for men have been more fun and placed them in positions of power. Same goes for white and heterosexual privilege. Acknowledging our own privilege, and being aware of how different privileges mutate and overlap is wildly important, and soul searching is required. It requires a lot more nuance that our Thought Catalog author showed himself capable of, but fear not! Mad Men is actually a really excellent place to watch nuanced characters deal with the privileges and constraints of patriarchy, and it’s available now on Netflix. Watch, enjoy, discuss gender issues, and look out for my forth coming blog-recap of Season 7, which premieres this Sunday.


Cat Called On My Way Home From H&R Block: why this didn’t cheer me up

Friends, it’s been a rough couple days.


Sometimes, you know, life (especially in this city) is a contact sport, complete with tears and bruises and existential crises that cause you to questions your life path and purpose.


For me, the final blow came last night in the form of some minor tax drama. It’s all going to be ok, the IRS isn’t upset with me and life will go on. But walking home, I was very frustrated and upset. In fact, if we’re being honest (and I’d like to think that we are) I was holding back tears.


As I turned onto my quiet street, I was fuming and just counting the seconds until I could get into my building and cry it out in private. And I was walking in the street because sometimes that feels better than the sidewalk (anyone?) and a guy on a bike rode past. And he said ‘Hey girl, what’s good? I can turn that frown upside down.’


I mumbled ‘fuck off’ under my breath and kept walking. But now I wasn’t exactly able to keep from crying because on top of my own grown up issues, I had just been objectified and harassed on my own fucking street.

Let me be clear about something: I like compliments. It isn’t always easy to accept them gracefully, but sincere compliments (especially from people whose opinion I value) are totally lovely. And you know what, when I put in the extra effort to get my lip stick just right and brush my hair and put together a super cute outfit, I appreciate a little reinforcement. But when a stranger on the street makes a comment like this, it is not a compliment.

from stopstreetharassment.org

Men make these kinds of remarks to women on the street because our culture teaches us that women’s bodies are not their own. It  teaches us that we have the authority to make judgments about their appearance, that we have the right to vocalize those judgments, and that we can use their appearance to make reasonable deductions about their personalities (note*: this is connected to rape culture and the idea that rape victims who dress sexy were asking for it.) All people have thoughts  in their heads about other people, but it is women who have thoughts vocalized at them the most. Because the culture allows for that. And from there, it’s a hop skip and a jump to folks thinking that, since our bodies aren’t our own, they have a right to touch us and/or react aggressively when we don’t respond with gratitude. Because in a culture that teaches women that their intrinsic value is directly and inextricably linked to their appearance, we all must just be salivating for proof that we are beautiful, and grateful when we receive that validation.

bunch of malarky

But feeling like my body is not my own is not a compliment. Especially when I know how often ‘Girl you’re fine’ quickly takes a turn towards ‘You’re a bitch/slut/whore!’ when I do not react or do not react positively (or when your body isn’t what your harassers assumed.) People who think you are an object they can comment on freely can’t possibly treat your with the full amount of respect that a human deserves. And in my case, last night, that guy was not interested in any of the possible reasons why I was upset. He saw me as a thing. Because without some extended experience with tax laws and financial experience, it is not at all true that he’d be able to ‘turn my frown upside down.’ But no matter, a sexual object doesn’t have a real life or other needs, so in his mind all I needed was some dick.


Sorry to take it there. But if that offended you, then you should ask some ladies in your life the kind of filth that’s gotten hurled at them in public. My incident last night was relatively tame, and since I kept quiet and kept walking it did not escalate. And it can escalate, drastically. We live in a world where women walk fast with their eyes down and sometimes cross the street to avoid large groups of men-folk because public space isn’t as safe for us. And this is not the same situation as a legit flirtation, with eye contact and a sly smile and reciprocated interest, so please don’t complain about never being able to express your attraction in public. Be a grown up, it’s not that hard to figure out when someone is also into you and open to a conversation.


If you want to read more about how this makes women feel, Google it. There are lots of brilliantly written pieces and organizations like Hollaback! attempting to tackle this very real safety concern. If you are a male-bodied person and still confused, ask a sister or a mom or a girl friend how she feels walking home alone at night. I’ll bet she thinks about turning her music down and glancing behind her and making sure her keys are ready. If that sounds weird, it’s because it is. Women walk around with a heightened sense of caution, a knowledge that some people see us without respecting or empathizing with our humanity. It sucks to think that a whole portion of the population sees me, and women in general, as nothing more than a vessel for their fantasies and an object to satisfy their desires. Last night was already going to be a drag, but that small reminder that I must always remain vigilant was the last straw. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I was unable to keep it together.* I cried, I poured myself a strong drink, and for the rest of the night I distracted myself with my contempt for the show Glee (this whole Funny Girl storyline is the WORST!) If you are a male bodied person and you’ve never felt this kind of tiredness, if you’ve never felt this kind of vigilance necessary, ponder on your privilege. And if you’ve ever been street harassed and would like to share your experience, please comment. Sharing is caring. Let’s take care of each other.


*Shout out to Pepper, who let me cry about my taxes etc and then watched me yell at the TV without complaint. ❤