(Not So) Blurred Lines
This song was one of my favorites this summer. I loved the beat. Sure, I had read the lyrics. I completely understood what the song was saying. A girl was saying ‘no’ to a guy’s sexual advances. However, because she was dancing with him and wanted to ‘hug’ him, the song says the girl is giving mixed signals–blurred lines. She’s a good girl, you see. Yet she’s an ‘animal’ and it’s in her ‘nature.’ Right. The lyrics proceed as this:
I know you want it. You’re a good girl. Can’t let it get past me. Gotta have it.
I even saw the video of the naked models being surrounded by predatory men, who are fully clothed, dancing. Robin Thicke, the singer, blows smoke into the model’s face and brushes her hair. You know, because, women are not really human. They are objects to be had and abused.
Okay, so I worked out to this song. It’s on my phone. I liked the beat. I laughed off the meaning because, well, I had never been in the situation. At least, I hadn’t been in that situation in a VERY long time. Anytime a man became too friendly, ‘no’ was usually enough for them to leave me alone. If not, I would call over a male friend and that would take care of the problem. This has not happened to me in such a long time, that I had lost a bit of my edge. I even listened to a song that I wouldn’t normally listen to because I had become complacent. I’m not a raging feminist (or maybe I am?) but I am not for women being treated solely as objects of a man’s sexual desires. All the women I have ever met, seen or known have been breathing, comprehending human beings.
Then I moved to the big city of Madrid and everything changed. If this can happen to me in a relatively ‘safe’ city, it can happen anywhere to anyone.I have had some very scary incidents since being here. None of them were because I was being careless or not aware of my surroundings. Nor did I do anything to provoke them yet I found myself in tense situations because of these so called ‘blurred lines’.
I will explain two that have happened to me personally. Let me also make the readers aware that these incidents happened in broad daylight with many people around; I guess you are never truly safe.
I was meeting some friends for drinks one day. It was a warm day and we all agreed it would be nice to share some sangria and tapas. So, I went to meet them. I went to the main metro station in Madrid called Sol. This is by far the busiest metro in Madrid. There were people everywhere, all scurrying to catch the next train. I walked down to Line 3 to catch the train myself. I was on the escalator down when a man on the escalators coming up waved at me and said, ‘Hello beautiful!’ in Spanish. The way he said it made me think he was familiar with me. When I glanced up, I didn’t know him. I thought he had mistaken me for a friend of his or someone he knew. So, I went on down to wait for the metro. Then I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around. It’s the man. I was standing against the wall and he proceeds to put a hand on either side of my head, pinning me to the wall. ‘Hello, my name is Juan. I like you a lot. You’re beautiful. Your body drives me crazy. Let’s go get a drink.’ He said this in quick succession, trying to grab my hand.
‘No, I am meeting friends and I have a boyfriend. I am not interested. Thanks,’ I replied. He shook his head.
‘You don’t understand, I like you VERY MUCH. Let’s get a drink.’
‘No, I don’t want to. Like I said, I have a boyfriend and am meeting friends.’ I had to lie about having a partner as I thought this would make him leave me alone. He grabs my arm and people are now starting to notice what is happening. My heart is beating quickly and I can feel the panic in the back of my throat. This man was around 6’3 and at least 220 pounds of muscle. I had to think quickly, so I blurted out, ‘I am going out tonight, let me take your number and I’ll call you and we will go out.’ If someone is crazy enough to pin me in broad daylight with hundreds of people walking about, I didn’t know what else he was capable of. He says, ‘Okay! Here…’ and tells me his number. I show him I am saving it. He bends down to try to kiss me. I duck. Mercifully, the train comes at that moment. I look around me and there are curious faces looking at me as if to ask, ‘What is going on?’ I jump on board quickly and mutter to myself, ‘Thanks for helping guys.’ Needless to say, I never called him and deleted the number. I was still shaky when I met up with my friends.
Then, this past week, when I was walking to pick up a Western Union transfer from my local post office (Correos), I came across two men seated on a bench. They made some typical remark ‘Hey beautiful! How are YOU doing today?’ I wasn’t feeling well because I had bronchitis and thus, I ignored them. This time, I had a fake wedding band on my hand. As I am walking, I hear footsteps and a bit of shuffling and whispering behind me. I hold my purse tighter and keep my head up. It’s broad daylight, again, with lots of people walking the streets. I glance behind me and it is the two guys from the bench. ‘Hey, gorgeous, come here. Talk with us!’ I keep walking. I think in my head ‘This cannot be happening again. I don’t even look nice and I’m sick.’ It was all I could do to get out of bed. Then as I stop to cross the street, the one named ‘Johnny’ came up to me. ‘I like you! You’re gorgeous. I love your body, honestly. You’re driving me wild. What’s your name? Where are you from?’ I say flatly, ‘I am married,’ and show my ring, ‘and I am not interested. Please leave me alone.’ He shakes his head and smiles, ‘No pasa nada, linda, I am married too! I still want to get to know you.’ I walk. His friend disappears but Johnny keeps walking along side of me, stating all the reasons I should get to know him. He’s a good guy, he works here legally, he’s a good lover, etc. I say nothing other than ‘I am not interested, leave me alone. I am meeting friends. I have a husband.’ Because I was going to pick up money, I start to become frightened again. This man will not leave me alone. I, again, have to think quickly. I see a cafe and had told him I was meeting friends. A lie, but I couldn’t tell him I was going to pick up money. I say to him, ‘Fine, Johnny, go to that cafe and get a pen and paper. I will take your number.’ He does so, leaving me with precious minutes to devise a plan. I walk up to a table of friendly people and explain my situation. They tell me not to worry, they will pretend to be my friends and they will make sure this man goes away. Johnny comes back with his piece of paper and I say, ‘These are my friends. I’m staying here.’ The people look at him without smiling. He smiles a bit and says, ‘Okay, see you later! Please call me beautiful!’
We watch him as he leaves. The one girl, Ana Rosa, tells me when has finally left and gives me a hug. She tells me I can stay with them if I want and drink a coffee. I stay and chit-chat with them, and eventually exchange numbers with the two girls. I tell them thank you so much for saving me and am on my way. I take the bus on the way back, so I don’t have to walk by those guys again.
These are two very real incidents that have happened to me. In both examples, I have clearly said ‘no.’ It wouldn’t matter if I was dressed in a dress cut down to my navel, if I said ‘no’, I mean ‘no.’ There are no blurred lines when it comes to a woman saying ‘no.’ If we do not want to your advances, pushing them will not do you any good. Anything that is not consensual is wrong. Sex without consent is rape. Pinning a scared woman against a wall is perverse and horrid. So, I disagree with blurred lines. The only way to know if she ‘wants it’ is to ask. She is not an ‘animal’ she is a human being. She is to be respected, not to be had. If she says ‘no’ then she means no. Needless to say, I no longer find the ‘Blurred Lines’ song by Robin Thicke funny or even entertaining. It is a degradation to all women who have been put in these types of situations.
This was from my personal travel blog: www.bridgetswanderlust.wordpress.com
Please check it the post and share on twitter, tumblr or on Facebook so we raise awareness and stop the harassment.
I feel their eyes leering at me as I walk by…
targeting me for their next attack.
my eyes looking straight ahead
thoughts racing through my mind
heart beating a little faster,
hoping they won’t say anything to me
I heard ruthless comments directed at me…
Catcalling me as if I was an object
I heard them laughing…
making sexual comments about my body
and grunting at me like animals
I hear this and don’t dare look back…
a huge rush of emotions flooded my body
My heart aches for the day
street harassment will be no longer,
where I, along with everyone else, can walk around
without fear, doubt, or worry
My body is not public property.
I am a woman who demands respect.
There was standing room only when I got on the bus, so when it cleared, I took the nearest empty seat as soon as it was available. Unfortunately it was next to a man who I quickly realized was staring unapologetically straight at me. After giving him a few seconds and the benefit of doubt, I turned to face him, looked him in the eye, and asked if he was staring at me. He just continued to stare. I stared back, but then decided it would be wise to move out of arm’s reach. Again, he continued to stare directly at me. I stared him down again from across the aisle and asked him to stop staring at me. He pretended to not be able to hear me because he had headphones in. I decided to whip out my phone and take a few pictures in case I might need them as evidence later. By the time I had taken the pictures, I got off the bus and notified the driver. He asked why I hadn’t said anything to him earlier. I thought he had heard me talking to the guy, but I guess not. If it happens again, I will take the pictures right away, notify the driver, and contact DC Metro police to file a harassment report. Here’s a pic of the asshole.
As a study abroad student in Angers, France I experienced quite a bit of street harassment, however, one incident stuck with me more than the others…probably due to how much it scared me.
I was walking down the street by myself going back to my bike to head home (probably not a good call at night, but I thought since it was the street the university was off of it would be fairly safe…). I suddenly had one of the people who I did not know, and had maybe said “hello” to when my friends and I were out because he asked me my name but didn’t have much of a conversation with otherwise, run up to me from down the street trying to convince me to go with him (where exactly wasn’t stated).
When I refused and said I really needed to go he tried to convince me to just “talk” with him in the alley. That was definitely a red flag for me so I kept walking. After that, I turned back to see a huge group of about 10 guys (I came to realize they were his friends when I saw him running to meet up with them) all yelling at me to come with them. I just started walking quickly away, getting more and more nervous seeing as, despite my lack of response to all their calls, they were continuing to follow me and getting closer and closer.
I started to panic and run, and luckily ran into this bar whose owner had been one of the people I had had an extended conversation with already in the town, and came to understand that his bar was where most of the foreign exchange students would come on weekends. Being able to speak French pretty well, I explained my situation. He looked out the door and, after having seen the rowdy, intoxicated group of guys calling out at me, said in a concerned voice “stay here, my sister will come and take you home, this isn’t safe.” His sister (with a baby carriage in the back of her car, which seemed promising) then came and picked me up from the bar where I had been waiting safely. I was so happy for the kindness of a family I had just barely met, and also so grateful I had escaped this situation in which I was VASTLY outnumbered.
I came to learn that this street wasn’t known for being safe at all, despite its extremely close proximity to the school, that that’s no excuse for harassment being allowed to take place.
I said “no.” That should have been the end of that conversation. When that wasn’t respected, it was clear to me that they didn’t care about my opinion on the matter, even thought it was ME they were trying to get to come with them. Not okay.
I went on a walk with my dog wearing long running shorts, an old, baggy t-shirt. A car full of high school boys was at a stop sign while I was a block ahead. They hung halfway out the windows and whistled and yelled at me. It wasn’t much but I was a 13 year old, innocent young girl and it scared the hell out of me. I felt ashamed, embarrassed for there were other cars in the intersection, and I felt like I did something wrong. I started running because I was afraid they would circle the block. I’ve been timid of walking alone ever since (it was a year ago), but finding Hollaback has given me the courage to know that I’m not alone and that I can stand up for myself.
While doing my grocery shopping I look up and see a man looking at me. I’m usually a friendly person and will smile and sometimes say “Hi” or “How are you?”. I smiled at him and he immediately looks at my chest and groin and says “I was wondering if you were going to smile at me.” All the while grinning at my body.
I thought of all kinds of fantastic come backs after the fact, but was too dumbfounded to say a word at the time.
About a month ago, I was hanging out with my friends in a fully packed bar. A couple of guys harassed us that night, but I’ll just talk about the three that shocked me the most.
I came out of this toilet cubicle and suddenly this guy walked up to me (it was a boy/girl bathroom) and he kind of cornered me, so I couldn’t go back to the bar where my friends were. He asked my name. I told him my name’s Pauline. He then proceeded to call me Paulientje (which is Dutch for ‘Little Pauline’) and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told him I was a lesbian and started pushing him away, but he wouldn’t budge. We were also blocking the entrance to the bathroom now and there was quite a queue by now. I was clearly uncomfortable, but no one helped me. He continued talking to me, saying things like ‘Did you fall from heaven?’ and ‘Are you absolutely sure you’re a lesbian? You’re not sure, are you? I can see it, you started questioning the minute you saw my face’ After what must have been ten minutes, my best friend showed up (because she was worried something had happened as it wasn’t the first time that night guys were bothering us) and pulled him away from me.
I was still kind of shocked, when another friend (though I didn’t really know him that well) came up to me and asked me what was wrong. I told him some guy had harassed me in the bathroom, to which he replied ‘Oh, I would’ve wanted to join’. At first I thought he had misunderstood me, so I repeated what I just had said, and his response was ‘I know what you said’. That same ‘friend’ had been groping my breasts, butt and thighs the entire evening, by the way. At first, I’d thought he was doing it by accident, but it happened one too many times. My scarf actually smelled like him up to two days after that night.
Some time later another guy grabbed me, asking for my name and such. I recognized him, as he had slapped my butt earlier that night and I had yelled at him. Once again, I told him my name and that I’m a lesbian and once again, the guy didn’t seem very bothered by that fact. He was actually rather excited by it and he told me it was his dream to fuck a lesbian. I was absolutely horrified, but thank god my best friend and her boyfriend came to my rescue. The guy got somewhat aggressive, so we decided it was time to leave.
Up to this day, I’m still wondering what the hell I’d been doing wrong that night.
I was at my favorite nightclub with a group of friends on a Saturday night, standing on the edge of the dancefloor. I was chatting to one of my male friends when I felt someone pinch my bum. I turned around and the groper and his friend, who I vaguely recognize as being a year older than me at the local boys school, are leering at me. I glared at them and turned around.
Not ten seconds later, it happened again – I turned around and said “Please stop doing that, or I will ask a bouncer to make you leave”. Ten seconds later – again. I turned around and told him bluntly to fuck off, before attempting to walk away.
But before I could, he did it again and attempted to drag my by my top towards him. So I turned around to face him, smiled sweetly, and motioned towards his drink as if I wanted to taste a bit. Confident his stellar pulling technique had struck gold, he handed it to me. I then had the somewhat immature but very satisfying pleasure of watching the creepy grin drain off his face as I dumped his pint of Stella all over his head. I sauntered away to the cheers of the crowd 🙂
#don’tmess #HOLLABACK #
First off: I live in the Caribbean, on an island called Dominica (not Dominican Rep.), and harassment is very common here and people act like it’s normal and supposed to happen.
I was walking my dog at night like I always do. He’s rather protective of me so I avoid walking him during the day, and I feel safe with him at night. And I pass a group of boys sitting in a porch, listening to music. I used to go to school with most of them so they call me and I say hi. On my way back, one of their friends that I don’t know calls me, so I turn to wave and move on. He then says, “Let me walk with you too, nuh.” To which I politely replied, “No, thank you. I’m OK.” He can’t take no for an answer and says, “Why you don’t want me to walk with you.” I simply reply that my dog, who is standing nicely beside me because I’m rubbing behind his ear keeping him calm, doesn’t like it when people get close to me. “But he not doing nothing.” “Because I’m keeping him calm. And honestly, I don’t want to walk with you. OK?”
Now this upset him because I’m apparently supposed to feel so flattered by his interest and swoon at his feet, and he starts insulting me.
“FINE! YOU SO FUCKING UGLY NOBODY DIDNT WANT TO WALK WITH YOU ANYWAY! THE FUCK YOU THINK??! SOMEBODY WANT YOU THEN!??! YOU WELL WANT MAN WHERE YOU BE THERE!!! I SURE YOU HAVE TO COME BACK AND BEG ME TO WALK WITH YOU!! FUCKING SALOPE*!!!”
*salope is French/French-Creole for whore (we speak French-Creole on my island).
At this point I stop calming my dog, which would stop working anyway as he has started yelling at me and fake laugh and tell him, “You’re right… PLEASE walk with me next time. But you’ll have to bring your own leash and collar, I don’t have any to fit you.” and start walking away feeling very insulted and displeased, with my equally displeased dog. As I walk away I can hear his friends laughing at him and saying they didn’t know I was “bad” like that, and that he was too rude, and I did the right thing, and as admirable as that is, why didn’t they say anything when it was clear I didn’t want to walk with him.
He was still shouting insults at me when I got home (about 100 feet away I think), and he is probably still cursing at me now wherever he is. Calling me “stuck up” and “fresh” and a slew of other things because he thinks I acted like I was too good for him and dared to respond to his insults and then dared to walk away from him, but I don’t have to take that from any guy, especially after I responded politely and was given back insults in return.
After a night out at a bar, we sometimes grab a poutine for the walk home. There is always a big crowd gathered and many people outside the restaurant eating their gravy and cheese covered fries. As we were leaving, we pass a group of guys dressed up in a variety of costumes. One guy, dressed in a mechanic’s jumper shouts at me as I pass by, “hey girl! Wanna see my dick? I know you want to!” I almost let it pass. Almost. I turned on my heels, looked straight at him, and slowly walked back towards him. “Sure,” I replied, as I stabbed at a fry. Now, my girlfriends were already ahead of me, but my boyfriend was a few feet away. I wouldn’t have done this if I was alone, but I knew I had back up if anything got out of hand. Now, this boy was not expecting a response. I stood there, in front of the late night food crowd, publicly calling this guy on his bluff. His friends were laughing, and the guy was getting nervous. “Oh you want to see it?” he says, “you wanna taste it too?” To which I lifted a fork-full of fries to my mouth and replied, “No, just your original offer will do.” He stood there, trying to think of what to do next. Then he tried backing out of it. “What if a cop sees me? I don’t want to get arrested” he says. “Oh really?” I reply. “Maybe you shouldn’t ask me if I want to see your penis if you’re not going to actually follow through. Or maybe it’s just too cold out tonight and your outtie has turned into an innie”. With that we walked away, and the roar of laughter from behind me assured me that boy would think twice before making that mistake again.