When there’s a culture (specifically the Jamaican culture) that has welcomed sexual harassment with open arms, it’s so hard to speak up against it. Speaking up against it gets you eye rolls, shoulder shrugs or the very casual response of “thats it?” When I’ve mentioned this blog post to male acquaintances, they tell me to not turn my blog into some feminist rant or to not be ‘that girl’, but I will completely be that girl if I need to be and I do not apologize. I’ll mention my encounters with men in this post, and I have not been more positive that other girls will raise their right hand and say “preach” because hell, its so normalized.
Yes, I’m wholly aware that sexual harassment encompasses so many things. Let me drop a quick source in right now for the University culture: The EEOC defines it as “…unwelcoming of sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”
I casually waited at a pedestrian crossing to cross the road, and this random guy put his lips to my ear and whispered the lewdest thing you could ever think about. I won’t mention it word for word because we’re keeping it PG, eh? Just know it was so detailed, and highly sexual that it would make your skin crawl hearing it from this dried lip, ashy elbowed, cigarette breath, yellow toe nailed, unbrushed tongue and 7 week old cornrowed man you don’t know in any realm of life. It was so lewd, I imagine it’s what horny 16 year old teenage boys say to girls at 1am over text following the ‘monkey covering his eyes’ emoji. I stepped away naturally, and I looked at him up and down in shock. He started smiling and kept talking, and I moved away in disgust. He saw my facial reactions, and they were–deadly. I gave him looks that would kill if they could. Guess what happened next?
PAUSE — Let me insert the comments people interjected whilst I shared this story..
Why didn’t I verbally tell him off? Why didn’t I pepper spray him? Why didn’t you kick him in the balls?
First of all, sis, when this intimidating guy is standing directly infront of you…the last thing I’m thinking of doing is kicking him. I have no idea what he’s capable of, nor do I casually have pepper spray on me. I should definitely invest in a bottle though. I didn’t want to tell him off because once again, I didn’t know his capabilities and a man’s ego is very fragile..and once tampered with, he feels the need to prove his masculinity once more.
He saw my disdain, and felt rejected, and he went off. I was in the middle of downtown, Montego Bay at peak hours when everyone was leaving work and school. He yelled that I was a lesbian who got off by doing sexual favors to other little girls. He alluded that I had nasty, unwashed genitals. He screamed that I was ugly and resembled animals. Now? imagine all this coming from a rampant, angry Jamaican men screaming in patois. It was so embarrassing and degrading.
It got so bad that I decided to walk out into oncoming traffic just to get away.
I remember telling my boyfriend at the time about the situation, and his questions were:
“Were you wearing those pants?”
“Did you choose to go to a bad area?”
“Did you smile with him?”
The other time it happened, police officers stopped me for a ‘frisk’. Once I made it known that I was uncomfortable with male officers searching me, he said he’ll leave a pretty girl like me alone only if I gave him my number. He continued to say that he wanted a girl like me in his life, and I was fat in all the right places. Safe to say, I wasn’t happy and I definitely did not feel safe.
I haven’t felt safe, and I suppose I just have to cope..barely.