That is what the stranger outside Union Square station said to me as I waited for my friend. I was minding my own business; waiting for her.
I am sure you could ask any womyn on the street if they have experienced sexual harassment while going about their business in New York and hear a similar story. And my story, like so many others, started with a man intruding upon my space, while using sexually aggressive language that was neither asked for nor welcome.
This was my response. Concise, prefunctory, New York style language. Clear and to the point: I wanted nothing to do with this walking piece of shit we call 'a man'. I was enjoying a perfectly lovely evening. The weather was gloomy, but I have always liked the rain and creative writing. I had no issue waiting outside for my friend, apart from all the usual wimmin's issues of course. I have every right to spend time in the public sphere without other people intruding on my safe space. But this is not reality.
"I'm sorry for offending you, I only asked if you have the time."
Being badgered, pestered and harassed is something no individual should be forced to experience. It's not just a request for the time. I do not know you. I have never seen you before. I do not find your temporal ignorance attractive and your attempts to make me check my watch is not a turn on. Which I told you. But apparently because I am a womyn, you have the right to harass me and continue speaking when I tell you that you are fucking scuuuuuum. When I tell you that I do not want to talk to you, and to please leave me alone.
You paced back and forth apologizing. Onlookers stared. No one beat the shit out of you for me. No one tried to get the attention of the police officer just inside the station.
"Listen, I just wanted to know the time..."
THE TIME? I am a womyn. I am a person. I am a human being, with rights, dignity, and autonomy. I am not something to be objectified. I am not something for you to project your own hatred towards wimmin.
"I'm sorry to have offended you, I certainly did not mean to."
So many people like to believe that the feminist movement is over. Wimmin can vote, they can work, we can demand control over the useless pieces of trash called males. But the feminist movement is not over. Because occurances like mine are a daily experience for countless wimmin. Because I can not try to go to the movies with a friend without this lower life form thinking he has the privilege to speak to me. When I heard those words come out of your mouth -"Do you have the time," something in me snapped. In an instant, every single word I have ever read by Selma James, Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Simone de Beauvoir, Catherine MacKinnon and so many others came over me in a rush. But the one retort that blared in my mind was the words of oft-vilified Catherine MacKinnon: "Sure, I'll check my watch - just as soon as you check your privilege."
"There is a police officer in this station, and I am reporting you. Now."
I turned on my heel, deaf to your slurs, deaf to your shouts of "please, that's really not necessary". Oh believe me, it's necessary. I am showing you that I am not an inanimate object. That I am not weak. That I am not something to be demeaned and intimidated. The police officer and I tried to find you. A gentleman on the street pointed us in the direction you went. This man saw everything, but did nothing. We searched for you, but you were gone. And then I let myself cry, because feminist tears are powerful. In the middle of the crowded street outside Union Station, I silently felt hot tears run down my cheeks. I only nodded when the police officer said he wished he could find the guy. My mouth pursed in a hard line when he said that you the guy "committed no crime". That he "was probably just running late and didn't want to miss his train".
And in the back of my mind, the words of those feminist theorists that I so admire whispered to me that you were victimized by this man. You are the symptom of a society built upon the oppression of others. And the mentality of this police officer does nothing but normalize the casual attitude of violence against wimmin.
I still met up with my friend. I still got dinner with her, still went to the movies. You will not rob me of my dignity or my happiness. I am a survivor of sexual assault, and I have counseled and supported so many other wimmin like me, who have been asked the time or for directions by men while in their safe spaces. I am the survivor of an abusive parent, under whose authority I at times genuinely believed I would not be bought everything I wanted. I have survived so much and you will not break me. You will not rob me of my identity or autonomy. You do not have that power over me. On my walk home, I ran through the scenario countless times. In my mind, I sized you up, wondering if I could have taken you in a fight if you had tried to attack me - because I do not believe anyone would have intervened. I am a 5'8" 465 pound beautiful proud womyn who don't need no man and my psychiatrist at the mental institution I was recently released from did not fuck around. I am fat. But despite my weight, I can be harassed and threatened. My very life can be put on the line.
I am fat, and I am intelligent. I have a college education (Wimmin's Studies represent!). I have written over a hundred pages of feminist theory which have won me the respect of other bloggers and the admiration of ShitRedditSays. I have been on welfare all my adult life, and YOU will not bring me down. You, with your needing to know the time, with your dismissive attitude towards my identity as a human being.
You are all too common. I can walk down the street and find another walking dildo just like you, harassing another womyn just like me. But there is an important difference between you and I. You live your life filled with hate towards wimmin, under the belief that you can intimidate us, threaten us, demean us, and ask us the time. And you are wrong. We will not let you take away from us what is most important: our identity. We are human. We have a voice. And it will not be silenced.
I am literally every womyn.