Yesterday I posted a video showing what happens to women everyday as they walk down the street.
I think it was in March of 1969 when I went for my first appointment at the Center For Special Problems in San Francisco.
I had been out in public mostly with friends maybe half a dozen times prior to that day.
I got off the bus at the East Bay Terminal and walked over to Union Square. It was the first time I experienced all the catcalling as a woman. I was so excited, it was so different from the catcalling I had experience as a presumed gay androgynous person. The filth I had experienced before had always had a strong dose of verbal violence and threat.
When I got back to Berkeley and told some women, who lived in the collective, they rolled their eyes and said, You’re going to get tired of it really quickly.”
Part of being a politically aware hippie woman with a blossoming level of feminist awareness meant that what was fun the first few dozen times grew stupider and stupider with each passing incident.
After I was raped in 1974 I started studying the martial arts and learned to move with alertness and confidence, like a woman warrior. I dressed like a dyke and wore feminist t-shirts, a combination that armored me up when it came to the street bullshit.
Over the years the street harassment has become far more vicious and threatening. Hiphop culture has made thuggish behavior acceptable while the right wing has seriously pushed misogyny as part of the cultural wars.
I’m old and mostly travel by car, I live in suburbia and that sort of bullshit would have neighborhood watch up in arms. It has been some 15 years or so since I was last harassed. The last couple of incidents were rather threatening.
When one happened I was out early in the morning, power-walking and involved a gang of young black men. When I ignored them they whipped out the catcalls accusing me of being a man. One of those incidents where I would have felt a great deal safer with a handgun in my fanny pack.
Then a drunken Latino man grabbed me and groped me as I was coming home from the grocery store. My martial arts skills kicked in and I kicked him several time. Didn’t even drop my groceries.
We are coming up on the Day of Remembrance Ceremonies around the world. Some of the violence done to trans-women starts off as street harassment and escalates from there.
Lessons in how to deal with street harassment should be part of the counseling given women coming out as trans early in their transition. It could save their lives.
That and convincing sisters to do safer forms of sex work other than working the strets.