Posting Up, While Female

Posting-up-drill1

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.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/10/28/street_harassment_video_a_hidden_camera_records_what_women_go_through_on.html

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.”

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18 thoughts on “Posting Up, While Female

  1. christianliving2014

    I’m not usually a violent person but if someone did that to me or someone I care about I would have kicked his butt! I’m an avid student of kickboxing and dance. I have had to take time off because I had surgery but am working my way so I can get back to it. I have been in situations like this and have always stood my ground. They pick on women who they think are weak. I get so angry when I hear of guys doing things like this. I’m sorry you and your daughter had to go through this.

    1. Teri Post author

      And of course we all know that my little story here, and probably even yours, are just a drop in the proverbial bucket. This is so constant, and can so quickly turn into something that scares the hell out of us, and we are just used to dealing with it.

  2. J

    That’s the scary thing…we’ve all experienced this. When did this type of behavior become the new normal?

    1. Teri Post author

      So so true. And too many incidents to count. I would guess that many people don’t think this is that bad? That’s what I love about the video … it/s painful, and so very realistic. And, sadly, common.

    1. Teri Post author

      Runner to runner, there’s a paved trail I run on through the park. There is a yellow line painted down the center of said trail. There’s almost always a man, or two men, running right on the center line, or even on my side, and they fully expect me to move out of their way. This sounds so small as I write it, but even this gets old.

      And re: the story above, you never know who you’re dealing with and so you’re trying to enjoy your evening while your body is on high alert. Would this guy just leave peacefully? Would he be pissed because my daughter embarrassed him? Would he be outside and follow us on the street and harass us some more? Or worse?

      1. donnaeve

        Are you serious??? It isn’t small to me. I really get this. I would SO not move, Teri. When two people are running together, EVERYONE knows one of them should automatically drop behind the other. And if it’s only the one right on the center line – I still would hold my ground. Jerks.

        I think you know what happened to me running one morning. But there’s another incident that is in line with this conversation. There’s a man who lives near us, not sure exactly where. He rides a bike everywhere. He’s a real creepy looking guy, mid 60’s I think, not a tooth in his head. He used to turn his bike around in the middle of the street when I would run by and trail me. I knew he did this, and one day, I stopped, turned around and stared at him. I waited until he turned his ass back around and rode the other way. He’s never done it since. One little victory.

      2. amyg

        I walk A LOT around my country roads, and don’t have much interaction with anyone else on foot except other runners/walkers. Still, I ALWAYS carry mace. I also make a point of addressing someone I see out who doesn’t appear to be exercising, but just strolling. I either approach with a simple “Hello” or “Good day for a walk” to make sure they know I am aware they are there. I also do my best to make eye contact w/ drivers if I’m on a quiet road w/ not a lot of traffic.Another thing I do w/out thinking is eye stray rocks and limbs along the side of the road, calculating if I could use them as a weapon.

        When i use to live in town and walk sidewalks, I was always shocked at the number of men, yes, always men, who would either yell out the window at me, or even pull up beside me asking if I wanted a ride.

      3. Teri Post author

        I hear you on all counts. I run with my dog now and she’s on one of those leashes that attaches around my waist — which makes me feel about an inch safer. There’s no leash in my hand to drop, which means if someone grabs me they grab the 65 lb dog, too, and I hope that seems like too much trouble.

        The amount of mental energy that goes into these things ….

      4. donnaeve

        Amy, I did all those things too…making eye contact, speaking, etc. That one morning, I acknowledged my attacker that way, made eye contact, spoke to him, and still. It’s good you carry Mace, that was the one thing I didn’t have. It sucks to have to be so vigilant, when all we want to do is move about in this world as if it were our right, too.

  3. Averil Dean

    It’s true what the article says about the pile-up. “Have a nice evening” sounds so innocuous that men can’t understand why it feels so invasive. But coming from a stranger, along with so many other comments from so many other strangers, it’s exhausting. Part of this is because of the mental energy it takes to assess the threat level each time: “Damn, baby!” from a guy who doesn’t pursue is less threatening than, “How’s it going?” from one who starts to follow you down the sidewalk. And the guy walking silently alongside for FIVE MINUTES? Scary as shit.

      1. Averil Dean

        True, but what’s so creepy in this case is that it looks normal. I mean, they appear to be a couple walking together, maybe not getting along but other than that there’s no indication of trouble. I wonder how many times I’ve passed something weird like that on the streets and not realized what was really going on.

  4. Bonnie Middlebrook

    Hi Teri! I saw the video on the Today Show this morning and at first, I felt angry. This woman was clearly minding her own business and these men had no right to encroach on her space and privacy. The Today Show folks sort of agreed with my take. Men must be stupid if they think some woman is going to actually stop and chat or say something like, “wow, thanks for thinking I’m so attractive, wanna have sex?” And so, my feeling is men are men and some men are stupider than others, and most men have brains in their penises or at least all the blood flows from the brain to the penis, preventing any other thoughts to come out of their mouths. So, I have chosen to laugh at these stupid men and take the road of, “I’ll take a nice compliment when I can get it”:)

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