|Checking out this site reminded me of my first encounter with street harassment in the Boston area. It was about 20 years ago, but apparently, not much has changed. I was walking in Cambridge, over by Mt. Auburn Cemetery on the way to my bus stop after school. I was probably eleven or twelve, and I must have had to stay late or something because I was alone, and usually I walked with friends. As I was walking along the sidewalk, a man rode up from behind me on a bicycle. He was in the street, but he slowed down when he was parallel to me and said “Hi!” I thought it was kind of weird, but I said “Hi!” back, put my head down to avoid his gaze, and kept walking. Since he was on a bike, he was ahead of me by that point, but he turned around and rode back towards me, this time pointing down at his crotch. And that’s when I saw it. His horrible, nauseatingly pale, half-flaccid penis hanging out of his pants. For a second, I just stared at it confused. I had never seen a white man’s penis before (I’d only seen my brother’s and my dad’s) and the first thing that popped into my middle-school brain was that he had a shaved squirrel in his lap (I really thought that!). Moments later, when I realized what I must be looking at, I was shocked and disgusted and absolutely mortified that I had looked as long as I had. I immediately started running as fast as I could toward my bus stop, terrified that he would turn around again to follow me. Thankfully he didn’t and I caught my bus home and never saw him again. Looking back, what I remember most about that episode is the crushing flood of shame that I felt. I was so embarrassed and angry at myself for looking, and for being confused, and for not immediately understanding what was going on. I felt stupid and humiliated. Some sick-o guy on a bike had flashed me, and all I did was stare at him, wide-eyed and perplexed. I was so upset and ashamed of my response that I never told anyone about what had happened.|
It feels really good to finally tell someone now.