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Friday, January 26, 2007

Good old days

I think this stuff happens a lot and we either don't talk about it or don't think about it anymore. Reading other posts makes me think about things that have happened to me that I'd pushed out of my mind or brushed off.

When I was in high school, this guy I knew pretty well was driving me home one night. We'd dropped off another friend and were driving down some backroads to get to my house. I have no idea how this happened, but somewhere in our conversation, he threatened to whip it out. I laughed it off. How weird, right? But I guess I went into shock when he grabbed my hand and pushed into his exposed lap. I'm pretty sure I'd never touched a penis at that point in my life, and I definitely didn't know what a soft one felt like. I didn't know what I was touching for a moment. Is that your thigh? Fuck.

I don't remember what happened after that except that he didn't try anything else and I got my hand back. And I know that makes me lucky. And I know that's beyond fucked up.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Looking back

Checking out this site reminded me of my first encounter with street harassment in the Boston area. It was about 20 years ago, but apparently, not much has changed. I was walking in Cambridge, over by Mt. Auburn Cemetery on the way to my bus stop after school. I was probably eleven or twelve, and I must have had to stay late or something because I was alone, and usually I walked with friends. As I was walking along the sidewalk, a man rode up from behind me on a bicycle. He was in the street, but he slowed down when he was parallel to me and said “Hi!” I thought it was kind of weird, but I said “Hi!” back, put my head down to avoid his gaze, and kept walking. Since he was on a bike, he was ahead of me by that point, but he turned around and rode back towards me, this time pointing down at his crotch. And that’s when I saw it. His horrible, nauseatingly pale, half-flaccid penis hanging out of his pants. For a second, I just stared at it confused. I had never seen a white man’s penis before (I’d only seen my brother’s and my dad’s) and the first thing that popped into my middle-school brain was that he had a shaved squirrel in his lap (I really thought that!). Moments later, when I realized what I must be looking at, I was shocked and disgusted and absolutely mortified that I had looked as long as I had. I immediately started running as fast as I could toward my bus stop, terrified that he would turn around again to follow me. Thankfully he didn’t and I caught my bus home and never saw him again. Looking back, what I remember most about that episode is the crushing flood of shame that I felt. I was so embarrassed and angry at myself for looking, and for being confused, and for not immediately understanding what was going on. I felt stupid and humiliated. Some sick-o guy on a bike had flashed me, and all I did was stare at him, wide-eyed and perplexed. I was so upset and ashamed of my response that I never told anyone about what had happened.

It feels really good to finally tell someone now.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The next stop on the train is...

This happened to me last week... I wrote up a blog on it in order to get out the frustration that the moment caused. My friend commented that I should check out hollabackboston.

glad to know that strong women can unite against crap like this.

here's the post:

I was tired last night.
The kind of tired where you've ceased to care how your hair looks, what day it is, or if your shoes are tied. I held the handrail all 100 stairs leading down to the subway station, for fear that a lazy step would send me ass-over-kettle down to the platform. These weary train rides home have become a daily occurance, and this one started out typical.
The T car held the usual assortment of characters; the gaggle of city highschoolers, crossword commuters, and young professionals.

I chose my seat in an empty-ish part of the train, so I could be alone with my thoughts, and shut my eyes without being bothered.
The doors closed, and my eyes settled into a blank stare at the floor.
A couple stops later at Harvard, a disheveled gray man disrupted my stare. He lumbered into the doors and sighed loudly while easing himself into the seat across from me.

Back to staring. This time, at the floor next to his shoes. I surrendered my mind to the shuffle of my iPod.

A gentle movement in front of me coaxed my eyes up to the newspaper resting in the lap of gray hoodie man.
Eyes still vacant, I became midly aware of the newsprint flexing repetitively.
As my thoughts drew back to reality, I focused on his hand bobbing between his legs.


I looked closer.
ew. scratching his old balls.

A shaft of skin revealed itself,
and then I realized.


he was masturbating.

Anger and disgust exploded in me. My eyes flashed up to his with a fury. I realized then, that he had been waiting for this moment. His head lolled back as his eyes rolled from my face, and into the back of his head.

My head whipped away while my whirled on what to do next. Panicked, I searched the faces of the people in the next set of seats.
No one else noticed the old man pleasuring himself at my expense. I looked out the window, the train was slowing down to Charles MGH.

should i get off?
The sonata in my heaphones faded far away as each thought slow-motion-crashed into the next. My mouth was dry and fell open in shock.
Distantly, the T doors opened, closed, and the train began to speed up again.
Robotically, I stood up and walked noticably quick to the other end of the train where the majority of commuters had settled. I hid behind a large black woman reading a magazine.
Visibly concerned, I craned my neck around her girth to the tainted end of the train. I couldn't see him.

I was getting off at Park Street, the next stop.

In retrospect I should have done something. Told someone. Or publicly humiliated him. But what good would that have done? I may have suceeded in making him just as uncomfortable as he made me. I could have gotten him arrested, sentenced to registry as a sex offender, or roughed up by an equally offended male commuter. Chances are, he's done it before and may do it again. I'd rather not think about how I should have had the guts to react more constructively than running away. But it did teach me more about my emotional reflexes. How I reacted to a situation, what I felt, and what that reveals about my personality.
While traumatic in many ways, it also sobered me on my field-of-daisies outlook on life. It was GROSS, don't get me wrong.
But a life lesson as well.

I practically jumped up from my seat at Park Street, rushed off the train and down the tiled hall to the green line. I didn't look back as the train barreled into the tunnel, leaving a sliver of my girlish innocence swirling in the wind behind it.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Walk on

I'm waiting for a table with my dad and my best friend at a Mexican restaurant in my hometown when some dude puts his hands on my waist, let's them linger, and then finally manuevers around me, heading back to his table from the bathroom, I'm assuming. I spin around and say loudly, "DO NOT TOUCH ME!" Surprisingly, he looks back and waits for me to make eye contact. Perhaps drunkenly (not really the point here), he says sorry. You know, I don't give a shit, man. You're probably just sorry because you know that's my daddy and you don't want me to tell your wife and kids in your corner booth. Stupid son of a bitch.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Takin' it to the streets

HollaBackBoston supporter & ally Ryanne went back to confront her harassers yesterday afternoon, and we're cross-posting this Boston native's encounter with her permission. Here's what happened, and here is her original videoblog post.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kumming & Going

I couldn't make this shit up if I tried. Dear God, I'm sick of this.

So I'm driving through Iowa, which has gas stations called Kum & Go. Um, yeah. And I stop to get some gas and a very unfortunate burrito because it's the middle of Iowa (not to mention the middle of the night), and I'm hungry. I try to give the seemingly weird dude behind the counter the benefit of the doubt since he is stuck as a late night convenience store clerk.

Wrong idea. I said hello, and immediately he asked me if I was ready for the weekend. What does that mean? I don't even know what day it is, I'm in middle America, and I'm eating gas station food.

Then he said, "So where are you from?" Is it that obvious? "I live in Boston." I really have to learn to stop offering people information, but you will see in a moment why it doesn't matter what I say. He presses, "But where are you from?" "I drove in from L.A.," I replied, getting annoyed. "Are you from L.A.?" I finally explain that no, I'm from the Midwest and actually used to live in Iowa. "What year did you graduate from college?" By now, I'm completely fed up. He takes this opportunity to inspect my credit card (a lesson: pay overly attentive pervs in cash, ladies) and looks up at me as he exclaims, "Your name sounds like a porno name!" It's not, asshole. It's my real name. "Is that why you came from L.A.? Is this a porno name?" "Can I nuke my burrito in the microwave?" I asked as I walked towards the back counter, trying to speed up my exit.

I figured he would stay behind his platform. Again, wrong assumption. He walks over to me, carrying a newspaper he has decided to give me. He's muttering something about the women on the front of it, saying they look like me, and at some point during all of this, he says, "You sure are a cute little thing."Can you please keep your person and your Kum & Go vest behind your dingy little counter, dickwad? I'm trying to warm my hideous meal and leave.

Finally, the bell dings, and I grab my overheated burrito. It's burning my hand, but I'm trying desperately to get out of the door with my bottled coffee, water, that stupid newspaper, and some fake Mexican food for the rest of the night's sojourn. As I'm struggling with the door and the knowledge that this man knows my real name, which is inconveniently plastered all over the Internet for reasons that are the exact opposite of "porno", he calls to me one last time, "I sure do hope to meet you again someday." Sir, you couldn't pay me to come back to your little shop of horrors, and if you have any sense, I'd suggest you stay where you are.

- B

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