What the F*ck Are We to Do About Street Harassment?

Good news everybody!  I've got a nice ass.  I was told not once but TWICE in the same day, by complete strangers!

I guess if you're not a woman, or have never been on the receiving end of street harassment, it may be hard to imagine how creepy, degrading, and even threatening it can feel.

My ass is so nice in fact, some people can't stop themselves from shouting it through their car windows as they drive past me, even when I'm standing with my kids.

Well, all I can say is, thank God.  All the barre classes have finally paid off!

...Kidding, obviously! Sigh...

A few months back, I read an article that a male yoga teacher (read: presumably evolved, compassionate man) had shared on Facebook. In a mocking tone, the author lists 'complaining about street harassment' as one of the many forms of 'humble-bragging' so rampant on social media.

Ummm, really dude? Bragging??? By the author's standards, this entire blog post is one big 'humble-brag' about all the ass-mirers I'm forced to deal with.

I guess if you're not a woman, or have never been on the receiving end of street harassment, it may be hard to imagine how creepy, degrading, and even threatening it can feel.

And as much as I know that, as Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," it is hard not to react with anger and fear every time.

In case anyone reading this is still skeptical, please let me assure you: street harassment does not feel like a compliment. It feels like a mini, verbal sexual assault. Something on the low end of the rape spectrum. It can really fuck up your day.

When a stranger has the audacity to open his mouth and make any comment about your ass, what he's really saying is, "You might think you're all that, but you ain't shit." Manners do not apply.

And what is the appropriate response?  "Fuck off?" Instinctively, that's what I want to say. But I'm pretty sure that's not the answer.

My female yogi friends and I have been tossing this dilemma around for years.

As compassionate, presumably mindful yoga teachers, we know there's gotta be a better answer than "fuck off."

As Albert Einstein wisely said, "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding."

And Understanding People know that no one is all bad. The wise-ass tow-truck driver who hollered at me from his window may be the same person who would go out of his way to be helpful and kind if I were stranded on the road.

I'd been reflecting on this a lot one day as I walked the peaceful Minuteman bike path in Lexington.  Two men stopped to asked me where the visitor's center was.  They were Asian tourists, with good English and heavy accents, and they were a little lost.

As I stood there pointing them in the right direction, a white woman on an expensive-looking bike swerved around one of them, and shouted, "Get out of the way, asshole!"

I immediately felt the need to defend them - imagine the millions of possible faux pas one makes visiting another country! This man had blocked the bike lane, but not intentionally.

I called out to her that her words weren't very kind or civilized and she mumbled a few more things over her shoulder as she sped away.

In that moment, I was reminded of my harassers. I recognized this cowardice.

See, I get the most grief right in front of my house, as I walk from my car to my front door. I think it's because I live on a busy street with no traffic lights or stop signs. The cat-callers are able to sling their petty words at me without having to slow down and be confronted.

The woman on the bike path was no better, no worse. She was just wrong. Wrong to think that other people don't matter, and most especially, wrong to think that we are separate from each other, any of us.

We are all one. The woman on the bike, the Asian tourists, the tow-truck driver, and me with my fine ass. All one.

Now, if you please, can you help me come up with a socially evolved response for the next time this happens?

Because, FOR FUCK'S SAKE PEOPLE... I know we can do better than this.