In basketball, to “post up” is to establish your position at an area near the basket.
A few years ago, my (adult) daughter and I decided to spend a mother/daughter weekend in San Francisco. We chose a small hotel in the heart of Union Square, a place where, it seemed, all of the people were. It was early December, chilly and damp, and so festive with the sparkling holiday lights and overly-decorated trees and roaming carolers and huge crowds of shoppers loaded down with Christmas gifts. I remember a female opera singer who stunned the sidewalk still and quiet with her a cappella of Little Drummer Boy. On our first evening, we went to a tiny Irish bar right behind our hotel for a drink before finding dinner. We sat at the bar. We’d had a great day. We hadn’t been there long when a tall man in a t-shirt and jeans cozied up behind and between us to order a drink. He squeezed between and said hello to us. We ignored him and kept face-forward, and also kept up our conversation. He said hello again. And again. My daughter finally turned and said politely, “I’m sorry, excuse us, but I’m trying to talk to my mom.” He waited a few seconds and then put his hand on my daughter’s arm, wrapping his long fingers around her forearm. She instantly shook herself free and hauled around and said, “Don’t fucking touch me!” He snickered, stood there a little longer to hold his ground, and finally moved on.
There was a thick crowd at the bar. Two busy bartenders. Everyone, including my daughter and me, pretended like nothing had happened.
Today I saw this short video at Slate.com of a woman walking through New York City. The video itself is less than 2 minutes long, and yet that was more than enough for me to get it, for me to understand how crowded and harassed and even fearful this woman would be.
The woman never, never once, engages with the men. And yet they feel perfectly fine getting in her space, talking to her, hitting on her, asking why oh why she won’t answer them, won’t engage because, after all, hey, they’re just giving her a compliment by “noticing her” and shouldn’t she be thankful?
Even though her posture remains neutral, a few of them get angry and get closer. She claims her space, small as it is walking down the sidewalk. She is posting up, establishing her position in the world. But no matter. The men are relentless, and even affronted by her lack of attention to them.
I am thinking now of that mother/daughter weekend in the city. We were just 2 women wanting to spend time together. We were covered up and dressed in winter clothes (not that that should matter, but we’ve all heard, over and over, how much it matters); we kept to ourselves; we were exhausted; we were not looking for attention. And yet.
How many times does this happen over and over again, and we keep quiet about it?
To post up is to establish your position, to say, “I am here.”