*written while sitting legs crossed and sipping tea, takes deep breath*
Sometimes I wake up and I just think life is going pretty well. I’m drinking my water, I’m minding my business, my skin is clear - #hallelujah. Other days, not so much - but hey, totally normal. I am a native New Yorker, I love everything the city has to offer but there’s just one thing that really never sits well with me on a personal level (yes, we get real close here). It’s a little more than just compliments, definitely more than catcalling and a defect in the culture of sexulity, relationships, the generational gap and plain ol’ ignorance.
Like I said, I’m a native to the sounds of the “hey ma’s,” and the “god bless you’s.” However, I never knew the extent of which I would have to perfect the notion of ignoring people until I began dating. Now, I am a big believer that who I date isn’t anyone’s business; however, that’s one thing people love doing - making things their business. And in the midst of all that, we’re still expected to keep our composure, “act like a lady,” avoid pushback, not say anything back, keep on moving, avoid eye contact, wear less revealing clothes, have manners, etc.
Imagine this, times two.
I’m currently in a relationship with a beautiful, amazing, life changing human being. And while I understand the laws of attraction - I would hope most people would understand the laws of respect. In New York, we receive many compliments, they say they’ve “never seen a couple like us before.” It’s nice. It’s sweet. But 95% of the time we’re being gawked at like an exhibit at a museum. Other times, people are rude. Many women stare, roll their eyes, say what a waste it is to be two beautiful women together. Many men stare, lick their lips and say things like “can I join?” Or worse, they become aggressive.
*Get ready for story-time*
My girlfriend and I took a quick trip to Miami and while it was my first time visiting as an adult, it was defintely not our favorite. We arrived around 9 am on Thursday with hopes of soaking up all the sun and all the drinks the size of my head - and we did. We did the whole art scene, the food scene, beach scene, bar scene, you know, the Instagram/Snapchat worthy stuff. But behind all of that, we spent a lot of our time plotting how to avoid and protect ourselves against rude, drunk, “on vacation mode” men.
First instance: “How you doing beautiful,” a random man basically whispered to me as he passed by me and grabbed my upper thigh.
Second instance: cue a group of cute, carefree girls hanging out at the Backyard Boogie when a drunk man, maybe early 30’s, slaps my girlfriend's leg.
Third instance: my girlfriend and I walk down the streets of Wynwood holding hands looking for our next spot to chill at but this quickly becomes a “let’s order an uber, we have to get the hell out of here.” We walked for a total of maybe three blocks of non stop (I am not exaggerating) catcalling, badgering and attempts at grabbing.
Safe to say that by the third day we were pretty much exhausted. We sat in our hotel room, wrapped in a comforter with the AC on blast, watching 13 Reasons Why, eating Subway and snacks - at this point, anything was better than being outside and risk being spoken to or looked at in any kind of way. We were completely taken aback with how aggressive and hands on (pun definitely intended) the men of Miami were because we know our New York City men would never lay a hand on a woman - or we have yet to experience that. Now, we can’t attest that this is the experience for every woman, but it was our experience as a couple.
It seems to me that as a female, society already has a hard time seeing us as equal to men. And as far as two females in a relationship, well that’s just another aspect society will test us on. I didn’t share what our reactions were to make a point, because it has nothing to do with the way we decide to react - whether it is passively or aggressively. I share this with you because sometimes things are easier to understand with perspective. Maybe things will be a little more clear when you read the words outside yourself. In 2017, we love to say that we can do and say whatever we want but sometimes that isn't the case. Sometimes that shouldn’t be the case.
Just like mom always said, think before you speak, think before you do.