Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I like your boobs!

Today, I was sexually harassed while leaving Women's Studies.

I was walking back to my building, frumpily donning an unbuttoned rain coat, holding a Chipotle bag in one hand and cup of water in the other, when I overheard a group of college-age boys laughing and hooting from the street corner. "Dude, does your mom know you're a virgin?" one asked, with much tact and class. Called one of his partners-in-buffoonery, "Try your luck with this girl." As I approached their group (conveniently located right next to the crosswalk), a freckled boy walked up to me, laughing. I looked at him uneasily and through his chuckles, he said, "Do you want to have sex with me?"

Right on time, I get a Do Not Walk symbol. Sighing, I looked back at the idiot and responded with a firm "No." A chorus of hysterical laughter broke out among his cohorts. One of the aggressors who suggested this game then yelled, "Try harder! Tell her she's sexy!" and for good measure, another friend shouted, "Yeah, tell her she's sexy!"

He obliged, I groaned in disgust, and I was finally able to cross the street. However, as I walked away to the sounds of whistles, indistinguishable yelling, and "Tell her you like her boobs!"; "I LIKE YOUR BOOBS!" I sort of wanted to vomit.

Tell me, how is this okay? True, nobody tried to touch me, and by college standards "they were just joking," but why should I have to feel uncomfortable and self-conscious at the hand of insecure twenty-something-year-old imbeciles? How can someone graduate middle school without a basic sense of what you can and cannot say to random strangers by the crosswalk?

I'm not posting this for pity-- nothing really happened, and if it weren't for the fact that I'm typing the story up now, I would forget all about it by Thursday-- but I just felt compelled to show a little civil disobedience towards an aspect of society that doesn't work for me. I didn't risk my hand at chewing out that group of guys right there in public, but I'm making my voice heard now:

It is unacceptable for anyone-- man, boy, or even other female-- to harass a girl or woman about her body or sexuality for any reason whatsoever. I don't care if it's a joke, if it isn't meant to be overheard, if it's in private... it is never okay.

So, freckly faced guy with the crappy friends, if you're reading this (you are not), I hope you can at least sleep well tonight knowing that, so long as you keep up the good work, nobody is going to be clamoring for that virginity of yours anytime soon. Grow a backbone, find some new friends, and, oh, you're disgusting.

Sincerely, The Badass Behind the Boobs

Chipotle burritos this year: 7.5
Subscribers: 49,078
Nail color: Rainbow (one color per finger)
Miles run today: 2

P.S. Nelamonster: raspberry with cranberry.


Dyl said...

I go to a different school in Ohio (you know, the big one about an hour north), and this kind of thing happens on a nearly daily basis. This is neither to brag nor complain, but I'm tired of just trying to walk down the street and having people honking or yelling about my ass or whistling. It's kind of offensive, and especially walking alone at night it feels kind of threatening.

Just wanted you to know that you aren't alone.

Ellen said...

That sucks, people are disgusting sometimes. Their parents must feel like total failures, because if my son ever did that, he'd never hear the end of it. I applaud you for walking away, becasue I would probably have given those assholes a serious and loud piece of my mind.

~Alison said...

guys are pigs. Today I had a 12 yr old wanna be skater-gangsta boy look at me, nod and say: "Sup?"

Margaret said...

Oh, Hayley! Believe me, no one agrees with you more on this one than me. It's why I'm taking a Philosophy of Feminism class this quarter. It's why I wasn't really that upset when it came time to leave Mexico, where the men are generally a million times worst than they are here. It's why I generally hate most people.

We read something related to this in my Feminism class. The author of the article gave the example of being cat called on the street and talked about how it's not enough for the man to just think about our bodies in an objectifying way-- he has to make us aware of it. We can be walking along, boobs unbeknownst to us bouncing all over the place, and it's not enough for the guy to look at them, but he has to call our attention to them and make us fully aware of his objectification.

It's a power thing, when it comes down to it, I think. Guys who cat call or objectify women want them to know that they can say whatever they want and they can make us feel ashamed or embarrassed because it makes them feel big.

Also, in your case, I think it had a lot to do with peer pressure. The guy had just had his masculinity thrown to the ground when his friends called him out on being a virgin, and he was looking for any way to gain his dignity back. Maybe under different circumstances he would never have thought of talking to you or any woman that way, but at that moment, his masculinity was in question and restoring it was his top priority. Which is obviously the stupidest thing to prioritize, and he sounds like a pathetic asshole.

I'm just saying that the best way to deal with shit like that is to try to remember that their goal isn't to hurt you. They're doing it for self-serving purposes. It's at the expense of you, but it's really about them.

JW said...

It's never okay. Ever. I get really sad when my female friends talk about being uncomfortable or being afraid to walk alone somewhere.

And what bothers me more is if you have gotten more aggressive in your negative reply, they might have come on stronger.

It's not going to change, but please don't label all guys the same.

Rosianna said...

Ughhhh. I'm sorry, people are just ridiculous. Have you read the comments on my vlog about the horrible creeps in miami? I feel awful that it happens to so many people and some people have had truly nasty things happen to them. Above all, it's not right that anyone should be made to feel in the least bit uncomfortable walking in public, much less on campus.

"it is never okay" -- hear hear.

Cat said...

So, I recently had a discussion about this in my Psych of Women class (which, of course, is all female). I was surprised and astounded to learn that almost half the women in the class would call what I think of as harassment "flattering". Many of them voiced opinions along the lines of "in this day and age, any positive attention to your body should be taken as a compliment and nothing more. Most girls take those things too seriously". I legitimately ERUPTED at this. If I, at any time in a social interaction, feel diminished, belittled or compromised, then it is NOT flattery. And, while everyone is entitled to their own opinions and feelings, the positive reinforcement that these men experience negatively affects me. I left the class fuming and feeling pretty hopeless.
Also, I can't tell you how many times I hear "You're a Women's Studies minor? what, do you just read the Vagina Monologues and complain about cramps all day?"
The amount of frustration and hatred I harbor toward ignorant people grows daily.
#notjustwhitegirlproblems #thisisn'ttwitter

Bridget said...

Wow, that is so immature not to mention a total lack of propriety! Douchebags like this really make me doubt the competence of humans in general...

Maya said...

I'm sorry that happened, and they're idiots, but I just wanted to share the advertisement directly next to your blog. it says,
"'NICE GUYS' Do FINISH LAST. Learn why 'being nice' NEVER WORKS with women... and what you MUST do instead. Click Here."
I'm not even joking. Like seriously, what? I would prefer a less attractive sweet guy over a hot douchebag any day, and I hope I'm not alone. ..

Anonymous said...

An intelligent lad would've shushed his companions and changed the subject. Or he would've done something different like... I dunno, offered to get you away from these schmucks as fast as possible or ask you out for lunch or whatever. Whichever method, he should've apologized for his friends behaviors. Alas, I'm an awakened old man and they're stupid twits.

Manar said...

Boys are The Dumb. Not all of them, of course. But those boys for sure, and lots of others that I've met fit the bill as well.


Being a girl is so HARD. But at least we get the reward of being all awesome and stuff in exchange.

Ariela said...

Sucks, man, I understand. I've been cat-called at while wearing my brother's large pants from the 90's and a rather unflattering pajama top, while only out of the house for the time it takes to retrieve the mail. There's no accounting for the behavior.

But more importantly, I happened to paint my nails rainbow this week too! I only do it rarely; I paint my nails about as frequently as you, and we happen to coincide with Rainbow nails. Or as my friends like to call them "Skittles" or "M&M" nails.

Britta said...

Reading your post reminded me exactly what it feels like to be treated that way. I think most girls know the feeling, we're all treated like that at some point, and it's not fair. One of my favorite poems captures that feeling, Catcalls by Amalia Ortiz. You can hear it here if you'd like:

Aimee said...

I was in a similar situation last week. Albeit, they didn't tell me that they liked my boobs, and they weren't in their twenties, but I was still uncomfortable. Actually, this group of boys that looked about 14, and then there was a man in his 40s, which I won't get into... Never mind. But it is really uncomfortable.

Naomi said...

I agree, so much. I attend a big ten school, and especially near the frat houses and such I hear this all the time. I don't know exactly why guys can't R-E-S-P-E-C-T girls but I do think that guys are just much more visual than girls. Guys (not all) like to see a lot of tan skin and long beachy blonde hair. At least that's the stereotype. If I saw a dude walking around with no shirt on and acting like a whore, I would think "put some clothes on because you look ridiculous." And let's face it, these guys (and the ones on university avenue) are mostly vapid, uninteresting and unintelligent. I think guys enjoy getting catcalled or noticied, so they do it to us. Because they are much more visual. I am not an expert on this field, but this is just what I think. I'd rather any other dude would come to my house, tell me I'm pretty and he's gonna date me exclusively, and then ask me what I thought of The Fighter. And of course, guys are in touch with their brain too, but I think they are mostly visual. This is not an excuse of course in no ways. I'm really interested in what men who like men think of this. If you saw a homeboy catcalling you, what would be your reaction?

This is kinda becoming a random tangent, but whatever, sharing is caring.

Sylvain said...

I had no idea some guys could act like that and im a man.
I understand now why some girls tell me that im a real gentlman and stuff like that when I dont do anything special other than being nice, holding doors or leaving my seat to women in the bus.Just like male basic etiquette.

Oh and about the comment who says "Guys are pigs".
I think that lady wanted to say "Guys WITH NO MANNERS are pigs".Yeah that sounds better.

I had to "defend" a girl who was fallowed by a couple of male teenagers in the street one time.
They were being rude to her and obscene from what I could heard from across the street.
I crossed the street and yelled at them "YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MY GIRLFRIEND?" (its all I could think of), they quickly went away as I was getting closer to the lady.The stranger lady just said "thanks" as I left.

Like you can see those rudes boys are also cowards.At least when a man steps out.
So for your ladies out there be firm and tell them to go away.
You can also pull out your cellphone and tell them "Im calling the police right now" and do it, dial the number.
That will calm them down.

Also Hayley get a Taser C2.

kendall said...

Preach it girl! Tenth grade a bunch of guys would harass me on the school bus everyday. It was mainly because they knew I was a church going goody toe shoes with boobs, and they wanted to make me squirm.

I feel like we should just start harassing guys, and see how they like it, but that makes us as bad as them. But I always find calling them out on it very satisfying.
ex: "Yes, I am hot! Now go and point out more obvious things in the world!"

apples_and_pancakes said...

Anyone else reminded of Emma's menstation episode on Degrassi? "I'd like a lick of that."

There's this wonderful video called a call to men. I'll badly link to it here.
Anyway, in his Equality Now speech, Joss Whedon mentioned that life without equality is life out of balance and it's hurtful for everyone involved, not just the people being actively discriminated against. Think this is true of the obviously insecure virgin in your blog, and of what Tony Porter talked about in the linked video.

apples_and_pancakes said...

*I meant menstruation. ze "coming of age" episode.

Sidsel said...

I have a positive story from last night invloving random guys. I was very restless and went for a walk, having a sense of anticipation. After half an hour I sad down on a bench contemplation wether I should read in my book or go home. Then a two guys with a sofa comes by and puts in down five meters from me. "Hey! Don't you want to join us?" they ask. At first I hesitate, saying I'm not planning on staying long, but then I think what the hell, this what what I was hoping for, wasn't it? I sit next to them and they offer me a beer. Apparently they had been transporting the sofa across Copenhagen for 5 hours and this was there final stop. Several people had been sitting where I was that day. We talked for an hour! And then they asked me if I wanted to go home to the guy named Simon's place (it was his new sofa) with them and watch the Jungle Book. I heard myself replying: "okay, sure." And that is how I spent my night. I went home at midnight living only 20 minutes from Simon's apartment.

Anyway, just thought I'd share my story. It's especially weird because a) I don't do stuff like that and b) I have been searching for something like this for a while, having been caught up ion movies such as Before Sunset and Lost in Translation the last couple of months.

Steve said...

I apologise on behalf of my gender. I don't think you would have been out of line slapping him or his friends.

Rosanna said...

That is horrible.

hpfan2,342 said...

I'm a guy and I don't do that...I probably would've asked what you like at chipotle though

Liv said...

Oh wow, this makes me so excited to be going to OU this fall. It's these kinds of incidences that make me consider donning some kind of head scarf to wear in public.

Also, I imagine your boyfriend was pretty upset about this when he heard it.

ashley :) said...

I think that it's great that you responded to it like you did. I know that a lot of us here (females) would more than likely handle it a lot less...elegantly? Well, anyway, it's awesome that you didn't just brush it off as some stupid boys being college kids, or say something like "boys will be boys."
You recognized it for what it was, and that should be done more often. :)

Good job, Hayley!

Julia said...

Oh dear.

It really upsets me as well how most people don't see anything wrong with this.

I imagine that, had I been in your situation, my skin would have been crawling as well. I always feel disgusting and angry after being around people like them. :(

Marie said...

It's disgusting that guys can get away with that crap just because they're "being guys". Of course, I know not all guys are like that, but this seems to be the general (stupid) excuse.

I had a lot of problems before, so I tend to walk around looking miserable, even if I'm not. People are less inclined to mess with me because I already look I'm gonna punch something. I've developed a big mouth, too, but it's really just all talk. It doesn't exactly help me meet nice guys (or any guys) but that's a little less harassment that I have to deal with.

Sucks that some of us have to resort to that just to avoid conflicts that really have nothing to do with us. More power to those who you who don't hide like I do.

Lizzie McMizzie said...

The irony is that you were coming from a gender studies class! And what a tool.

clairechiisan said...

I can agree that it's uncomfortable but, I was just thinking about public communication and I remembered today as me and my friends were driving home, we had the music loud and my friend was singing the lyrics whilst stuck in traffic, when a car pulled up beside us (duel carriageway) and the guys in it witnessed her *awful* singing and instead of mocking her, they smiled and saluted us. And it kind of surprised me. Because most of the time, the 'general public' doesn't care about you, won't listen to you, won't give any indication of considering that you're even there. And I don't know about anyone else but I hate the incivility of it all; what's wrong with smiling at strangers? Saying Hi?All our friends were strangers at some point. Why is it different? Maybe it's cause we all assume any communication is a bad kind of communication, and distance ourselves.

Wow, kind of went off on one then. I'll post it anyway.

Anonymous said...

We need more stuff like this ^.

Good on you Hayley.

Jen said...

I would have wanted to engage them. Ask them to call their mothers and sisters and THEN ask me those questions. Oh, I know it wouldn't matter what I said to them...they would have buckets full of lame come-backs. Sorry you had to encounter douche canoes on a perfectly good Wednesday.

oomboo2 said...

I really appreciated this post. I admit, I'd mostly stopped reading your blog this April. (Sorry, not a fan of hearing about your food consumption.) But this post really made me start to like your writing again. It was intelligent, witty, and powerful. Thank you.
I know I've felt objectified before, even if only in jest. I don't think it's okay either.

seurat2 said...

This kind if thing just depresses the hell out of me., Rosianna uploaded something recently about what kept happenning to her in Miami and that depressed me too. As a guy I really wish this crap would stop, but I'm not hopeful.

Jordiekins said...

Just here to say that oomboo2 is a mewling tardy-gaited hedge-pig.

Jordiekins said...

And I mean that in the "I don't know you but I'm going to judge you" kind of way. Hey, she could be a nice person. Who knows?

vcsuchodolski said...

I don't know what to say about the display of douchebaggery you witnessed today, but I wanted to tell you this:

My English teacher is trying to go dairy-free with his wife because their son has been having a negative reaction to something in his diet and they think it might be milk. I told him about you. :3

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that happened to you. I've gone through that same situation a couple times and one of the last times it happened, I have a brilliant idea. I turned around to face the immature middle schooler boys (who were in high school, just for reference) and began a long drawn out acceptance in a utterly disgusting valley girl voice. I believe my rambling went on for about 5 minutes. The looks on their faces were priceless, but by the time I walked away, they were done with their crap(:

Tom said...

It's horrible, of course it shouldn't happen, and you're right to be angry. The fact that people (of all genders) don't even feel they can openly express their disdain for this sort of thing, but are expected to just grit their teeth and accept it, is reason enough to be disgusted. And the dynamic of the group of guys sounds like a perfect example of why the patriarchy hurts men too.
This is Tina Fey on her experiences with street harassment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my terrible grammar also. I typed fast and just re-read what I wrote. How am I graduating high school this year?! :P

Niki. said...

Maybe there should be some way to test for that kind of maturity when applying to college... seriously, that is not okay, and I don't understand how anyone who has graduated high school (or even middle school) would think that it is.

Also, hah, The Badass Behind the Boobs. I like it.

Sarah Badger said...

Have you seen the website I discovered it when I faced street harassment every day in NYC and it made me wish I had the guts to shout back to gross guys like that.

elfarmy17 said...

"Sincerely, the Badass Behind The Boobs" - awesome.

Some guys are just immature idiots. And yes, they should have grown out of that sort of thing by the end of middle school. Or at least high school.

Marlee said...

This post was awesome!! I'm following you! I'm a college student (also with badass boobs, might I add) and I completely feel your pain. Great blog!

G said...

I do understand, but don't you think it is a little bit hypocritical to post this blog and your latest video where you tell a fellow YouTube'er she should have done her video response naked, both within 24 hours of each other? BTW I also just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your BEDA posts. They are witty and funny and brighten my day :-)

Paige said...

As a girl who has been sexually harassed three times in the past, you go girl! I never had enough courage to stand up that directly. Why do people think it's funny to do so? It has really hurt me and other girls who have very little self esteem to begin with. Also a tampon fell out of my backpack today and a guy started laughing, I was tempted to throw it at him... but that might have been my raging female hormones at work.

JakeJustus said...

I'm really sorry you had to go through that whole ordeal. It really sucks that we are living in a society where young men feel the need to objectify and demean a stranger in order to validate themselves. We can't ever truly make ourselves feel better at someone else's expense.
Props for handling the situation with tact.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you said a firm, "No."

A way to make them feel awkward and uncomfortable is silence....give them the slow stare down. Start by staring at their eyes, slowly shift your focus to their feet, and then quickly look back at their face again, squinting your eyes and raising your eyebrows as if to say, "Who do you think you are?" Then walk away.

Works like a charm.

Cissy said...

It sucks that this happened to you right after your women's studies class.

AnthonyMichalak said...

That young "man" is very rude and having friends like those seems to be ignorant. I am so glad I don't have friends like that. My friends are the type of people who would kick my ass if I said anything like that to a woman. I apologize on behalf of men for the way they acted.

kira902k said...

God. Boys. I don't understand why they think it's okay to be such ASSHOLES.
No, it's not attractive.
No, girls DON'T like that.

Anonymous said...

If God created man to 'better' the Earth, and then created women, doesn't that mean that women are the most superior creature of all? ;)

Adam said...

The fact is girls want sex, and want to be admired as sexy, as much as guys do. There's nothing wrong with that.

When guys find a pretext to talk to a girl they have a sudden sexual attraction to, he doesn't have to actually mention that attraction. The girl can figure out that the guy doesn't know much about her yet and probably is just physically attracted to her. Then she can make her decisions without too much sudden drama about where she wants to take the situation.

But when someone says after a 2 minute conversation, "I want to have sex with you" or "You have a great body", it raises all these other questions and issues that go beyond the question of acting on simple, instantaneous attraction.

Guys don't want to admit it, but if a girl does that to a guy at a bar, he is likely to feel a bit strange about the whole thing, and get uptight at the sleeze in the air, ask himself what having sex with this particular person will say about the type of person he is, the type of girls he likes or can get. Girls are even more likely to suddenly shut off from a guy they might be attracted to, opening themselves up to their second thoughts.

When guys make comments to girls like that, it means they're too scared of failing, and feeling humiliating, in trying to get the girl to go home with him or just be receptive to his physical attraction. So they try to get it all over with, relieve themselves of the pressure of wanting a girl, by failing and nonchalant assertion of their sexuality that rejects feelings of shame.

Anonymous said...

I know that much time has passed since the op, but I would like to comment. Studies demonstrate that more than half of the children are being raised in a fatherless situation. I strongly urge you to take these opportunities and influence the behavior of these boys. In most cases, they have no one teaching them how to behave appropriately. Be assertive, and try to remain positive. You may or may not see a change immediately, but it will give them something to think about. Perhaps another young woman will avoid this type of disrespect because of your effort. Be strong! Not mean... strong!

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