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Harassment is never acceptable, in any form. But there is a kind of harassment that is largely ignored by our society, and that is the harassment that women receive from men when they are out and about in public. That's right. Commonly known as "street harassment" or "catcalling," most people either pretend that it doesn't happen, or that there's nothing wrong with it. Many people say that the women are "asking for it." After all, if women don't want to be aggressively hit on, propositioned, harassed, touched, and even assaulted by men, they shouldn't leave their homes, right?

Wrong. Here's one article about this form of harassment, and how some women are beginning to fight back.

Staghunts on Tumblr posted the following photo and story, and encouraged others to share it and spread the word. Since then, Tumblr has been systematically removing the photo and story from their site, and Staghunts has had to repost it several times, as have others who have reblogged it. As such, I'm posting it here, off of Tumblr, with the photo hosted on my own private webspace, where Tumblr cannot touch it.

This one is very serious, guys.

I came upon these two on the sidewalk. They were having a conversation. “Excuse me,” I said, addressing the girl. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but is there anyway I can take your photo?”

“Why would you want my photo?” she asked.

“Because you look beautiful,” I said. And she did. She was Sudanese. There is a very distinct beauty among people from the Sudan, and she was filled up with it. Suddenly the man cut in.

“I was just telling her she was beautiful,” he said.

Naively, I assumed I had just walked up on one stranger giving a compliment to another. I wanted to capture the moment. “Let me take your photograph together,” I said. The man seemed reluctant, he started smiling nervously and inching away. But the girl called him back.

“Come take a picture with me,” she said. Encouraged by her attention, he returned. She put her arm around him, and I took the photo.

As I examined the photos on my camera, the man started whispering to the girl. She answered him in a loud voice, “I told you! I’m not that kind of girl.” She seemed agitated now. Finally sensing that I had misread the situation, I stepped between them. The man began hurrying down the sidewalk.

When the man left, the girl’s demeanor changed completely. She seemed shaken. Her eyes were tearing up. “He just offered me five hundred dollars to go out with him,” she said. “And then when I said ‘no,’ he offered me one thousand. Why does this always happen to me?”

“It happens a lot?” I asked.

“All the time,” she said. “I’m sorry I’m getting emotional. I just can’t go out of my house without this kind of thing happening. I have a son. I’m a mother. I would never degrade myself like that. I just don’t understand why this keeps happening.”

“Do you mind if I tell this story?” I asked.

“Please,” she said. “Tell it.”

Let’s hope this man, and all men, realize the emotional damage they are inflicting on the women they try to buy. In the meantime, feel free to SHARE.


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