International Anti-Street Harassment Week: My name is NOT “Pssttt”

I didn’t even know Anti-Street Harassment week was a thing,  but now that I do I am disappointed I missed it.

Race aside, every woman who has had to walk down a city street or block has experienced street harassment in some form. And despite what some may think, it’s nearly always unwelcome.

In response to an article that’s circulated on my social media feeds — on why black women don’t owe men a “hello” — here are a few things I’d like to say.

First, and in defense of the article, it in no way condones rude behavior. Before people bash it, I implore you to read it.

Women – Don’t be assholes. If you’re walking down the street and you accidentally, or on purpose, make eye contact with the person walking in the opposite direction and this person offers you a kind, “Hello” or “Good morning” it doesn’t really hurt anything — as a human being with manners — to offer some acknowledgement in response.  Whether it be a full “Hello,” a smile, or a head nod – just be courteous back. Not every kind person on the street is trying to get in your pants.

But guys … Don’t be assholes, either!  Seriously, though, analyze the circumstances, your surroundings,  even the time of day. It’s one thing to ‘extend a kind greeting’ and keep it moving.  It’s another to follow a woman down the block,  at night, who has her headphones on then act indignant when she speeds away at break neck speeds trying to evade you.

She has no way of knowing what’s on your mind or what your intentions areIf all you were really trying to do was “Say hi,” you don’t need to fall in step behind us to do so.

Also, men, a response to your hello does not mean an invitation to follow, harass, or otherwise antagonize someone who just might be trying to get home. Which is really the point.

As far as I know,  there is no anti-saying hello week.

So, yes — maybe we do owe you a response. But we do not owe you a conversation,  or our telephone numbers,  or attention that goes any further than common courtesy. Period.

Yes, you have the right to say hi and not be treated like lepers.  

But we have the right to walk down the street in peace as well.

Be kind, but don’t be an asshole. Manners never go out of style.

But … P.S. Our names are not,  have never been, and will never be “pssstt.” ;-)

Anti-Street Harassment week is from April 12-18.  For more info: Visit http://www.stopstreetharassment.org

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