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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hidden in Plain Sight

I had experienced so much aggressive harassment over a three day period- men cat calling me as I’m walking toward them and then calling me a bitch and a cunt when I passed them without responding- in my neighborhood, I decided to take a summer scarf and drape it around my shoulders, to cover the bare skin I was revealing by wearing a tank top. It was hot, and I wanted to wear a tank top, but did not think I would make it from my house to the subway without this intense harassment that was making me crazy. As I exited my apartment and attempted to walk down my stairs, I encountered a maintenance man who was also making his way down the stairs in front of me. He saw me, turned to me and smiled and said hello. I smiled back and said hello. He then proceeded to walk down three rows stairs backwards, facing me, looking me up and down the whole time and smiling at me, like we were doing something together. My skin crawled. I couldn’t even say hello to this man without him taking it as some sort of romantic or sexual invitation. As soon as I reached the bottom of the stairs, as he stood there, just staring at me weirdly, I took the scarf that was around my shoulders and wrapped it around my head, almost instinctively. I walked past him quickly with the scarf fully covering my hair, my shoulders and part of my face. It was one of those kind of checkered patterned scarves that some Christian organizations had petitioned Duncan Doughnuts remove from an actress in a commercial last year because they said it had Arab which equaled terrorist connotations or some crazy shit like that. Whatever. I made my way from my apartment to the subway in relative piece that day, with the exception of one young construction worker who actually stepped into my path as I was walking, to make eye contact with me around the scarf, and repeated “hello, hello mommy.”

Submitted by Chavisa