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Wednesday
Sep242008

"Black Woman Walking" By Tracey Rose --Restricted Freedom of Movement of Black Women

A couple of weeks ago, I put up a post about Black male privlege, some people apparently don't believe exists. Well how about the privlege of "freedom of movement." Tracey Rose completed a film called Black Woman Walking. Its refreshing yet sad at the same time that its is just an accepted part of life. There is an interesting discussion towards the end of the film about the implied knowledge that how you react to street harassment can be a matter of life, death or permanent disability if the catcalls escalate to physical violence, which is common. Hat tip to The CW Experience.

I don't know if it is available for purchase, I didn't find it on Amazon.com. Unfortunately when I typed in Black woman Walking on Youtube the search results were a bunch of miogyny and dehumanization of Black women. The film is dedicated to 16 year old Adilah Gaither. She was shot and killed in 1998 when she refused to give a man her telephone number. Here is a description:
Black Woman Walking presents a dialogue among women of color that explores the nuances of street harassment. Through personal stories and analysis, the women interviewed reveal how this accepted, socially tolerable form of violence affects the way they view themselves, the men in their communities, and the potential for violence that lives at the intersection of race and gender. Brooklyn Arts Festival

Yep just walking down the street. If anyone find out where you can purchase the film, let me know and I will plug it. More of us need to chronicle our life experiences, we can't rely on BET to to it. HA!

Reader Comments (53)

Good post. This type of film needs to be out there. I would definitely buy it - I would love to see the whole thing.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOshun

There are examples of the lack of freedom of movement in all groups. Blacks can't walk in Hispanic areas in LA. Black men's freedom of movement is restricted by police harrasment. White males are restricted in many areas from walking in black neighborhoods.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

To be honest all men of a certain character regardless of race behave this way, not just black man. “Some” White Construction worker are notoriously disrespectful to (white) women as they walk the street. heck I even remember an episode of Designing women on the this subject.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJaceel

So are y'all sayung that this is okay because other groups engage in it? As usual, ppl try to deminimize real and serious threats to Black women because it is bad PR.

The ease with which y'all dismiss this issue is breathtaking .

A girl got SHOT AND KILLED for refusing to give her number and many more have been maimed behind street harassment. The reason this is acceptable is because of the dismissive attitude exhibited in these comments.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterginamobi

I hope it's okay if I comment.

I'm a 17 year old black female and street harassment is a daily occurrence for my friends and I.

I've also been approached by men asking me "how much?". This has happened to me at least four times. I don't dress projectively. Just jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. This has also happened to my mother, my female cousins, and my sister. We're black women so we must be whores?

This is an issue for black women and I don't think anyone has the right to tell us that it's not.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Creeper

Yea- no excuses. When I was 14, a huge rock missed my head by a fraction of an inch because I did not respond. I just remember shaking all the way home. After that, I have felt compelled to respond even if it is just a tight lipped smile. I should not have to respond, but.... I should be able to walk and just be. So no excuses.
It's always amazing that people excuse black mens' (yes, yes - we know not all black men and other men do it too.)behaviour, but are quick to condemn black women - no matter who else is doing the same thing. As Mr. Obama says - Enough!

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMar

This is a fantastic video. I know plenty of Black women who have experienced this. This needs to be passed on to other womanist/feminist blogs.

I take issue with the posters who disregard SEXUAL HARASSMENT; because that’s the form of street harassment many Black women endure. We need to stop being appeasers, and call shit out as we see it. Cat calls, sexual propositions, touching without consent, whistling at me, it’s all SEXUAL HARASSMENT. We need to stop making excuses.

Black women should feel comfortable enough to refuse to give out personal information to STRANGERS, but we are not! I have a right to say No, without being afraid that physical harm may come to me.

Did some posters miss the part in the video where Black women stated how they feel when they are being sexually harassed? These women feel like they are being seized up, rated, and inspected, on a public auctioning block! It’s been so long, that some men don’t know what it’s like to be publicly humiliated. This video is a great example of misogyny at it’s finest! Why is it so hard to see things from the perspective of women?

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRoots

These are usually grown men doing this, they are truly pathetic standing on the corner selling drugs looking for the next lay, thats why they have multiple baby mommas they stay on the prowl. And don't be carrying groceries, they love that too.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNaima

Did anybody hear about the girl who got killed b/c some dude asked for some of her hamburger and she said no. He killed her and shot her Mom in the foot.

http://www.nbc4.com/news/17521842/detail.html?rss=dc&psp=news

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNaima

In NYC, on the street, I once saw a white woman being harrassed by a black man the same way that black men (no, not all black men...but in all honesty, too many black men treat black women, whom they do not know, in public, very disrespectfully!) treat black women on the city streets. This white woman was offended. She had a look on her face of disgust. And she was correct in her response. As well, there was a cop near by, and she called the cop over to get that black man to leave her alone.

It sickens me, it disgusts me, how black men assume familiarity with black women on the street, and how disrespectfully they treat us black women. (And this nasty behaviour cuts across black-ethnic lines: When I lived in NYC, black men from the Caribbean engaged in this behaviour, too. In my experience, the Jamaicans were the worst!) Too many black men think that they are god's freakin' gift to women. News Flash: You ain't!

Also, this is not new behaviour, because many of these men are middle-aged to old-aged, who treat black women this way. Unfortunately, "the black community" has accepted this as normal and a quite all right way for "our" men to act.

And, don't be a black woman with a white man, for you are certain to catch a lot of verbal and [occassionally] physical abuse from black men, because too many black men see black women as their property.
================================

Black women, please feel free to use the following, if you need/want to, if you should be out with a white man and a black man harrasses you:

Black Man: Yo, sista, what you doing with that white boy? Why don't you do the right thing and get with a brotha!

Black Woman: No, I can't do that, that's disgusting. I can't get with a brother; that would be incest!

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterredcatbiker

I had a teenage BM once yell "BITCH" out of a passing car at me because I didn't respond to his "Hey Shawty" calls.

It's a shame. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that many of our children don't come from stable homes. They don't know how to interact with eachother because they've never seen their parents do it.

But, please can we not minimize the occurance. Yes BM have been victimize too. Their freedom of movement has been limited too by police harrassment. We get it- 20/20 and 48 Hours have done entire specials on it. Let's stop the saving face and PR games.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZabeth

Preach Zabeth. Sean Bell etc.. we know. We are talking about US on OUR space.

Jaceel~*dead* at Designing Women. FTR I walk past contruction workers everyday (Central American). They leave me alone.

Creeper~I note how you go to what you're wearing. We always internalize and make it our fault. Would WE ever ask, "what did YOU do to make that cop beat you?" or "why did you wear that hoodie in the store?"

99% of the time I get street harassment, it's a Black male. 100% it is vulgar/obscene it is a Black male. I speak Spanish. Latin men never say anything nasty, nor do they expect you (or other women) to RESPOND. Like that young girl, I feel like crossing the street. I can always feel the scrutiny.

I can relate to the pain of these women, feeling that "one of your own" treats you worse than anybody else...and in front of the world. I have only been grabbed by Black men...in MIXED environments.

No. You don't have a right to my attention. You don't have a right to have me "speak" or otherwise acknowledge your existence.

No. You can't walk with me. Whether I have a man is none of your damn business. I'm wearing a suit and you are chugging a tall can and/or are homeless. Why the f- would I be remotely interested in you?

Why are you blocking the sidewalk because you can? I shouldn't have to wear an iPOD (in ear so you think I can't hear, but turned off so that I can hear you come up behind me).

It is a privilege to be able to walk down the street without having some random asshole scream about your ass from a block away.

It is a privilege to be able to walk past derelicts and not get stones thrown at you b/c you "didn't speak".

Redcat~it is a privilege for white women to think that a cop will help and have that cop actually help. It is a privilege not to have to think about sending a "brutha" to jail. That is one privilege I would claim, but I live in DC.

Sadly my non-black friends have noticed this. I don't make excuses. I don't "explain". He's merely a nasty mf and not one of "my people".

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaJane Galt

LaJane Galt on 09.24.08 at 2:16 pm said:
Redcat~it is a privilege for white women to think that a cop will help and have that cop actually help. It is a privilege not to have to think about sending a “brutha” to jail. That is one privilege I would claim, but I live in DC.

That is why I started my comment that way, to show the privilege that white women have in the same situation. And to show that black men inflict this type of behaviour on all women, when the opportunity is ripe for them to do so. Unfortunately, black women bear the brunt of this treatment by black men, more so than white women. (Perhaps, I should have prefaced my comment with such a statement, but I do think it is kind of rude to write comments that are longer than the blog owner's posts; so, I try to keep my comments short.) Also, to show that white women often won't tolerate such behaviour, for if there is any authority figure, such as a cop, in the vicinity, they will engage that cop to protect her.

Do we black women have this available to us, too? Yes and no. Too often when we--blacks, regardless of being a man or woman--seek assistance from the police, the person asking for help winds up in a worse situation, with the police, than from where she started. However, in the past, I have demanded a cop to help me, to protect me, from a black man who was harrassing me on the street. The image that too many people have of black women is that we don't need any help, that we don't need any protection--we are strong and can take care of things/problems on our own. Heck, I pay taxes, too. Taxes that go to pay the salary of that cop whom I asked to help me. But, sadly, too often interactions with cops can be a crap-shoot. So, you've got to play the situation that you are in by ear.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterredcatbiker

So glad you posted this. I teach Ann Petry's novel The Street, which deals with this same issue. IN 1946! It is crucial for us to continue to speak out against sexual violence against women.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen

There are examples of the lack of freedom of movement in all groups. Blacks can’t walk in Hispanic areas in LA. Black men’s freedom of movement is restricted by police harrasment. White males are restricted in many areas from walking in black neighborhoods.--Dave

You're right. But black women should be able to walk freely in their own neighborhoods. That's the real issue.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLorMarie

I was born and raised in NYC and I can honestly say that the treatment I received at the hands of black men in my neighborhood was disgusting. I remember walking across the street on many occasions just because I didn't even want to be seen.

I'd get called things like "Chocolate" "Brown Sugar" "Hershey Kiss" etc when I was as young as 11 or 12 years old. I would walk with my head down, my shoulders slumped. I never talked to anyone about it and it was so heavily condoned that I didn't think it would matter if I did. My solution was to get the hell out of there and never return. I had to do a lot of forgiving to be able to tolerate men in those communities.

This kind of treatment led me to cling to men of other communities in high school. They didn't treat me like I was a piece of meat, valued my intelligence and humor, etc. It wasn't until I went away to college that I began to see black men who were different but there was still an aura of entitlement when it came to their approach to black women.

Now that I am grown I know better how to handle myself. I realize now that I own my body and my person and no one has a right to make me feel uncomfortable. I can walk through any ghetto and stare those men in the face now. I can teach my daughters to do the same.

But I can still remember being that scared and uncomfortable CHILD who didn't understand why men that looked like me treated me so bad.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHuemanity

Gina, the video really struck a chord with me. It made me cry. I suppose I have some healing of my own to do. It reminded me of my experience growing up on the South side of Chicago (late 70s/early 80s). Sometimes, walking on the streets, I would get the "Hey miss lady - you married?" even though I was obviously too young to be. If I didn't answer I would get "Well f*ck you then, b*tch!" I learned to either smile or say something polite and keep moving. I remember men staring me down and shaking the change in their pockets as I passed by. I remember being directed by men to "smile" (for their sake) because I looked too serious. I remember being told "you got some pretty legs" and told to "say thank you" when I really didn't want to. I remember learning to give a lot of thought to what I wore outside, to the consequences of not being "nice" to overtures that never should have been made, and generally on how to be safe. I think, on some level, I learned it's not safe to be beautiful or to openly celebrate one's beauty; it's not safe to set and defend your own boundaries; and it's not safe to exercise your own right to be silent if you so choose, or to be critical of intrusive behavior if you so choose. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of undoing a lot of the harm that has come from growing up in that kind of environment, but I think of the girls who still deal with that every day, and it makes me very sad.....

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Look at this. Black women from all over te country with a universal story and yet people will still come on here and say. Nah Nah that didn't happen to y'all or "Everybody goes through this- there is no problem within the Black community." I call BS!

I had no idea this post would illicit so many personal stories from Black women of all ages and backgrounds. I just wanted to get this film out to promote this film maker. We will definitely be revisiting this issue.

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

I linked this to a section of a hip hop message board that is basically geared toward social discussions related to black women or for the men to ask the ladies questions. The several responses from the ladies indicates that they acknowledge that this does happen, but they don't see it as a big deal. They were surprised that anyone felt it serious enough to make a documentary about it. If you read it carefully, you can discern the ladies' comments from the guys. I just wanted to see the responses to young women who live in that environment. Some of the posters found the topic very interesting:

http://community.allhiphop.com/go/thread/view/12501/4942526/Ladies_is_this_the_problem_they_make_it_out_to_be?num=10&pg=2

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterT'Chaka

Sorry, here is the first page of that thread (I linked to the second page first):

http://community.allhiphop.com/go/thread/view/12501/4942526/Ladies_is_this_the_problem_they_make_it_out_to_be?num=10&pg=1

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterT'Chaka

Here is another interesting thread from a blog that I visit from time to time. It isn't about street harassment, but it is a perfect example of the disrespect black women face.

http://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=2715

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLorMarie

...And don't let anyone belittle this phenomenon with that we-are-the-world-everyone-goes-thru-it-crap...IMO, it's just another attempt to dismiss the many atrocities that BW face on a too-regular basis...

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCW

My concern with the clip (I haven't seen the whole documentary so I can only the judge those few minutes I saw) is that it only paints the corrupted picture and (one aspect at that) and neglects other aspects of our interactions. There is no real discussion of how we got to this point. It leaves an impression as if this is the only place we have ever been.

Some people have a way of interacting on the street that can be beautiful. There are places all over the world where there is a vibrant street culture. The interaction between women and men on the street can be poetry.

If we try to criminalize this behavior or explain it away as just how bad black men are, I don't think we move the problem further.

I think that we end up picking the same sides and having the same arguments. Brothers will say they do it because it works and sisters will say they have no power. The end result is that we don't address the real problem. The public space is polluted and we just do not know how to interact.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRalphK

@ Ralph K

If the excuse by brothers is that "hollerin'" works, that still doesn't make it acceptable. That kind of harassment is about giving these marginalized men some sense of power. They KNOW how they make the majority of women feel with this. They know that by hanging out in large groups, posturing and being verbally abusive will make women feel powerless and force them to respond positively out of fear. If these men can't meet women in traditional settings then maybe they don't deserve "the nookie".

Also, these men have no clue how young some of thee girls are. A shape does not make someone a woman capable of defending herself against catcalls. Yes, some women like to be talked to in that way but that is not the majority of women. It is also unfair to have girls be scared to even walk down the street. With so many of our young girls learning how to relate to the opposite sex via perverted media messages, this type of harassment does nothing to help a serious problem.

I respect the fact that we have to work TOGETHER on this issue but if black men can't admit to the fact that this is harassment, we will never be able to have an honest conversation.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHuemanity

( i know grammar and spelling needs imporvement but keys are sticking)

Okay this is my harrasment story. I was 13 walking to choir practice with tree of my siblings. we had to pass a liquor store. A guy calls out wats your name, you're fine...ect. I ignore him stay close to my fam. Older guy probably 30 yells out well f$%k you b$%^h. I was so horrified. We walked faster and we never walked to rehersal again. For this reason I will never have my two girls walking the streets for any reason. Coming back from grocery @ night I passed a group of young black girls walking somewhere. My first thougt was thhhey need to be in somebodies house. If I was to move to a better neighborood I guess I would be an uncle tom to some.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterme

I think in order to acknowledge the problem and begin dealing with it we have to get at both sides together.

There are lot of ways to look at the problem so I am suggesting this one. Street Harassment is a problem because street harassment works. There are girls out there that like to be called out like that. There are brothers that take things too far. There are grown ##s men chasing children. There are children in the street that no one is watching. My point is that the whole space is corrupted. There is no civility in the public space and that is the problem because we are people of the public space. We put all our stuff on front street and we forget that everyone has rules to follow.

The way I view the problem is that we are not trying to attack the whole situation and we keep getting stuck on one part. Bad behavior should be punished and good behavior supported. Brothers need to know that certain behavior will not work. They need to understand that certain things will even be punished. Once they believe that they will stop on a dime. Some people might take offense at that but its true. Sisters need to know that THEY MUST CEASE SUPPORTING CERTAIN BEHAVIORS BY BROTHERS. PERIOD. The brothers who VIOLATE WILL BE EXCEPTIONS AND OUTCASTS. (I sure hope no one believes that the monster who shot the 16 year old girl is normal to the brothers on the corner)

This seems painfully obvious to me the other way around. If word on the street is that walking around urinating in public places and carrying guns works, they will do it. If walking up and politely saying hello will get you the number but "Can I holla b...." will not, it will change.

I think the first step is to find out what the rules are for both sides now. Once we find out what the rules are then we can go about trying to change them.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRalphK

Whoaaa hold the phone. I merely said this isn’t a black woman/black man specific problem I said street harassment is related to piggy men. I did not dismiss Adilah Gaither’s death nor am I ignoring the women experiences. I am not riding front seat of the mammybulance either. Disagree and all of the sudden I’m loading Octavious’s gun. I am sympathetic for women who have faced this ugly treatment because I have faced it as well. The assorted cat calling (from black and mexican), I’ve had a breast fondled by a mexican man and a white man grind his crotch into my butt.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjaceel

Though I have never been physically threatened by men on the street I have had my share of ridiculous 'hollers' My reaction was always to act really crazy so they would leave me alone. Once I was walking to work and a guy started following me in his car. He asked if I wanted a ride. I said no thanks. Instead of driving away like a normal person he got all indignant and demanded to know why not. I told him I smelled death on him.
"what?"
"DEATH. You are surrounded by it."
He drove away pretty quickly. Sometimes ignoring it will make them go away, but as some have learned the hard way, it might get a rock thrown at you instead. I think if they think they're rejecting you instead of the other way around you are a lot less likely to get hurt.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTina

Hi Jaceel,

I'm going to have to agree with you on this. While I do think that the majority of blacks women's problems with sexism is with black men, we can't go down the route of claiming that men of other races are any better. I have had the disrespectful comments from black men, but the only times I have actually experienced men taking liberties to grope me have been from other races including white men. I'm NOT trying to trivialize anyone's death nor to excuse black men for negative behavior. I'm simply saying that men of other races have done some pretty disgusting things (to black women) as well. Black women have been victimized by nonblack men, I would address that as well.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLorMarie

The solution will REALLy begin when other MEN stop allowing this to occur in their environment...

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCW

A similiar situation happened to 3 young girls riding in a car in Orlando this year. Just because they wouldn't give some assholes their number, they were shot at. One girl got shot, she went into a coma and died. She spent her graduation day in the hospital.

This is not a 2 time thing. It happens all the time. These assholes believe they own BW and they feel they have the right to say and do anything to us. And BW(some not all) keep calling them "Brothas." They are not your "Brothas." Stop calling them that. A true Brotha wouldn't be verbally abusive to you. A true Brotha wouldn't be physically abusive to you. None of them are Brothas.

Theirs a saying, "Just because someone looks like me, doesn't mean they are for me." If a BM wants to be my Brotha, then he has to EARN that title. I will not treat him any better then I would any other person because we have the same skin color. More then likely, I gonna treat him worse.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSacha

Red~~ I totally got your point! I wasn't trying to criticize or call you out :)

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaJane Galt

Street Harassment is a problem because street harassment works. There are girls out there that like to be called out like that.

slavery got things done too.

It's called internalized oppression.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaJane Galt

While I was never taught to outright love Black men (assuming that that's something that comes naturally), I've definitely inhibited that level of fear of Black men based on my experiences from being sexually harassed, publicly, by Black men.

I totally understand what the young woman said about just "crossing the street" because she didn't want to deal with it. I'm a grown woman, and I still do that, or do whatever I can to avoid those situations. They happen everywhere--at the gas station, at the mall, walking down the street, hanging out with friends, etc.

I had a habit of ignoring them, and I remember my mother telling me "if these men speak to you, just say 'hi' back so you don't get hurt". And now that I think about it, it's so sad that we have to teach our young Black girls this...that they have to fear their safety and their own lives if they don't say HELLO!

Recently, I reported being sexually harassed by a fellow member of an organization I belong to. I was amazed how many people stood up for this man and defended him and inferred that I welcomed this type of behavior from him, despite telling him, repeatedly, that I was uncomfortable and that I wanted him to stop. Some people's views are so misconstrued and messed up that it's hard to differentiate between what's right and wrong...it's hard to rationalize irrational behavior; it's like trying to understand a crazy person's thoughts with your own sane mindset. Some people just don't get it, and because of this, unfortunately, this behavior will continue and go unchecked.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

LaJane Galt said:
Red~~ I totally got your point! I wasn’t trying to criticize or call you out :)

Thanks, LaJane, for your blogosphere kindness.

I must admit that I often have my fists up when writing comments and/or engaging in dialogues/debates in the blogoworld. You know, one must be ready for a fight, to defend one's position, if need be. I have seen so many of these places get downright nasty, and witnessed the brutality of some commenters (not just towards me).

And, often it is hard to discern another commenter's tone--so, thank you for the smiley face.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterredcatbiker

Where I live is 90+% white. I have yet to hear any white guy yell or catcall me, or have them do it to any of the women here. Sometimes I'm shocked by what women wear when they walk or go jogging. But that's white woman privilege, she can wear a transparent jogging bra and short shorts and be left alone. I don't even wear shorts, because I grew up harassed just like the women posting their stories here. I couldn't walk a block, as a child / young teen, in my old neighborhood without some disrespectful and degenerate black male harassing and propositioning me. No one should have to go through this kind of nonsense. There is no excuse for it.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGoldenah

Where are all the "there's no privilege" guys?

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaJane Galt

jaceel, that link that you posted (on 9/25)--well, their conversation about this issue was very good.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterredcatbiker

It's just after 5 o'clock in the afternoon and I'm leaving my p.o.e. - I was an investment specialist with a well-known broker at the time and I was dressed the part. I'm standing in a group of other professionally dressed, mostly white folks waiting to cross the street. A black man comes up next to me and says something, I don't entirely hear what, but I give a small, tight-lipped smile of acknowledgment like you might give a stranger passing by on the street. Next thing I know, this fool reaches over in an attempt to pull aside the top of my shirt and get a peek at my cleavage. I recoil and he says some dumb shit like, "You was pullin', I was peekin'." I cross the street quickly.

So I guess in everybody's eyes I went from black businesswoman to black whore in under 1.5 seconds.

I get your point, RalphK, but I don't particularly feel that I should have to wait for chickenheads to stop acting like chickenheads before I can walk down the street unharrassed. Anyway, thank goodness I'm on a college campus now - a bit more protected as long as it's daylight.

And a TIP FOR THE WOMEN - life has gotten better since I got married. They say anything, I just smile and point to the ring and keep on walking. Might I suggest a faux wedding ring?

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPecola

RalphK,

You say that "Street Harassment is a problem because street harassment works." For me, that's like saying "rape is a problem because rape works."

Yes, harrassment, like rape, "works", because the perpetrator ultimately gets to exercise power and control over someone else's body or behavior. Men who harrass women on the streets can use their verbal and physical presence to intimidate, instill fear and force submission. The key word in that sentence is "force." In other words, women are not willfully consenting to this kind of behavior. They are not going along with this behavior because they want to. They are forced to go along with it to stay safe.

In other words, as with rape, when women are being harrassed on the street, they are being forced to endure this against their will. In my state (Illinois), the definition of rape includes being made to engage in a sexual act under "force OR the threat of force." As many women posting their stories here have pointed out, they are clearly and unpredictably under the threat of force walking down the streets if they don't give the harrassers the responses they want.

And you still say the real problem with "harrassment" is that "it works"? I say: you really need to expand your view of the problem...

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTara

@ LaJane:

"Where are all the “there’s no privilege” guys?"

If by “there’s no privilege” men, you mean men who don't believe they enjoy any privileges with women with whom they're unfamiliar, look no further. We're here and, just like the cat-calling, groping jackasses (or worse) already discussed, we too notice you women. We just don't feel it necessary or appropriate to degrade, dehumanize, intimidate or frighten women in a harebrained attemp to strike up a conversation. Some of us, like myself, have daughters we're attempting to raise to respect themselves, so we show them through our example how men should treat women so they they never allow a man to abuse them in any way. There are even those of us who will take a friend to task for mistreating a woman, simply because we believe it's wrong. It's possible we're a minority among our gender, but we are out here. You ladies may wish there were more of us, and less of those "others". Us too.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterboboso

I am so tired of "ghetto drug thug porn mentalities" being defined as who we are as Black/African/American people. That behavior is not who we are, is not acceptable and it's past time for Black men to stand up and protect Black women and her children, regardless if their his wife and children or not. We "drank the Kool-Aid" and as Carter G. Woodsen said in his book, "Mis-Education of the Negro" back in the day, "if you tell a person to go to the back door long enough, even when there is no back door, they'll make one." Modern translation: We're our own worst enemies now doing the bidding of the KKK and other groups that hate us. They don't have to come into our neighborhoods and do drive-bys they way they used to, 'cause we're doing it for them. My people, my people, when are we going to "WAKE UP", as Spike Lee said in his movie. Our ancestors are turning over in their ancestral tombs behind this nonsense that we game on each other thinking we getting over, but instead getting locked up, drugged and turned out, as our land and resources are being taking away, and we fall for the okey doke everytime, fighting over a corner that you don't even own. And this is not just here in the States, look at the rape rate in South Africa, the rape of African women across the African continent. Look at who still controls the land and resources, the majority of business on the continent while we fighting over crumbs. One of my teachers said, "In the history of African people on the planet, slavery is a mere blink of the eye". Its a shame that across the planet African people are still blinded, dealing and seeing themselves as unworthy slaves, men thinking they can "take" a woman anytime they want, treating each other from a plantation/colonist mentality. I would expect such behavior from a non-Black person, due to their conditioning, but from us to each other? Oh how far the mighty have fallen. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and start drinking from the mighty river of the Nile/Kush Valley, that is who we are, African man and woman. Now thyself, know your his/her-story.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEverywombman

At the age of 47 this black man is starting to feel that the war is lost. I feel that if the black people who were fighting to survive on the slave ships could see the way our people act now, they would have given up and jumped overboard. Why do we embrace the worst behavior possible and hold up those who cause damage to our community. Why do black men have the courage to go up against a cop who has a gun, stick, mace, a badge that says he has the right to use the gun, and a radio to call more people with all of the above but the same black man will back down from an algebra book. We have the nerve to insult black women on the street but we don't have the nerve to be a good father or husband. I see young men in my neighborhood who will stand outside all night to sell drugs but will not stand up for 8 hours in McDonalds doing an honest job that could lead to something better and is not illegal.

I am very sad when I see the results of drugs, under education, the embracing of criminal behavior, and the steady decline in our race. I understand why black women a seeking peace with men of other races. I think you can only ask people to put up with only so much before they give up.

I too want to buy this film and I will continue to search for information on the film maker.

Please continue to do the great work you are doing.

September 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCurtis

"The solution will REALLy begin when other MEN stop allowing this to occur in their environment…"

CW I think you hit the nail on the head. I can remember a time when I was a toddler and becoming aware that men would not curse or even say certain things around women and children.

September 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOshun

“Where are all the “there’s no privilege” guys?”

Our posts tend to get deleted.

September 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRich

I have never seen public spaces as fun and creative locations.

Growing up in an urban environment, public spaces have always been male-dominated locations that men own and claim: standing on street corners, talking at women as they go by.

It is their world, we just live in it, having to negotiate spaces which are hostile to us: men talking at women-- is he the purse snatcher or the crude, lewd man who will insult? If she recognizes him, will he presume she likes it and will he then try something more? Will her smile of discomfort be seen as interest? In the end, is he the potential rapist?

So in negotiating those spaces, I have always walked with purpose. I go where I have to go and do not loiter. I refuse to make eye contact with random men I pass, and I refuse to listen when they speak at me.

I live now in a (white) suburban/small town environment, and it is totally different. All men and women go about their business freely. Even when I go downtown, where the environment is more integrated, the dynamic is the same: no one trying to accost, talk at, etc.

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpioneervalleywoman

DBR black men teach other race of men to disrespect us and actually DBR black men, even the college-educated DBR ones openly tell every non-black person they meet that they ‘don’t date black women because fill in the blank, and that ‘black women are the problem’ or that ‘black women have too many issues’.

I have had white and Asian guys come up to me and say ‘I don’t know what you black women do to black guys, but I know black guys who have said to me that black women are FILL IN THE NEGATIVE BLANK’

It’s like I don’t know what to trust coming out of a black man’s mouth when they themselves tell you ‘Oh white men just talk about having sex with black women, because I’m always hearing them say that’. Are they uplifting OUR profile though and showing black women the proper respect?

Nope. You don’t have to date me, like me, love me, marry me, or make your black children darker skinned with me as opposed to lighter skinned, you just have to respect me in public.

That’s how you build up trust with me, that’s how you’ll get me to say ‘Hi’ to you sometimes instead of ignoring you no matter how polite you’re being.Then maybe you’ll get a smile out of me.

God nothing annoys me more than people always telling me to smile. Usually black people most of them are the black men.

I ain’t smiley and the street harassment from my own kind sure ain’t gonna make me smile more. Black men have me scared walking down the street, and when you try and say Hi to them and give them an inch, the black men like NO other will take 300 miles.

Not even the one mile.

Hey I’m talking about my own ’supposed’ kind so I never wanted to say anything like this. Why would I? But I have to say the truth.

Black men are sexist especially up against black women, their ‘own kind’. They have no regard, consideration, and they just plain don’t care. They don’t CARE to understand how it’s not safe for strange women to just carry on with any and I mean any strange man she happens to bump into on the street, especially big cities.

I have the right to ignore ANY strange man I don’t know because that makes ME safer.

Don’t try to catch up with me and trail me like a shadow and say ‘If I walk with you and you walk with me, we’ll be safer and we’ll back up each other’.

You wouldn’t be doing that sh** to a white chick. That cannot make ME feel safer because you are a STRANGER.

And these black men need to stop taking that ‘black woman ignoring them on the street’ stuff personal YES I mean even when they are polite.

I mean hello? Where have you been? The world is NOT safe for women sometimes and I can’t be standing talking to Tom, Dick, Harry, Jorge, Jesus, Jose, Jerome, Daquan, Darnell, Shaquille, Seneca, Curtis, etc.

I mean am I painting you enough of a picture here?

Jeez Louise!

October 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterak

I noticed that there were a lot of similar questions about this documentary so I decided to interview Tracey Rose. I will put the link in the URL section of my comment. I hope it clears up some of the questions people have.

January 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Nelson

The street harassment saga never ends.

I was just looking at someone's blog post on street harassment, and she posted this video of guys groping every Black woman that exits this club (and a random White woman as well). This video is not suitable for work:

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhXQ462c1QWo9zfsDD" rel="nofollow">http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhXQ462c1QWo9zfsDD

The comments on that hip-hop site are saying pretty much that since the women were "dressed like hos" they were "asking for it." I am livid! I don't care if these women were butt naked, no one asks to be groped by random guys they don't know.

Those guys are definitely predators! I doubt they'd care if someone asked them how they felt if their mother or sister were groped by someone like that. Scum like that have no hearts.

January 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Silence

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