This is in response to the “Stop Seeking Male Attention” post on the Stop Street Harassment website. The entire article makes a great deal of sense to me, and I agree with it. But the last line really stood out for me because I did use the phrase mentioned against a harasser way before this post, and yes, got a STRONG reaction to it!
I think it’s great that this concept of not seeking male attention is being aired and brought to the light. It’s a shame that all females are taught to seek this type of validation from such a young age, but hey, at least now we’re challenging that training. Life without the constant interruption of the male gaze/and or comment can be pretty peaceful. I get to experience this peace only when I visit places that are less urban/metropolitan and that are more about nature and enjoying the land than interacting with people.
That phrase “I don’t exist for you”? It tickles me to see that printed in the above referenced article because it is EXACTLY what I said to a really aggressive harasser trying to demand my attention at a bus stop recently. I had already responded to his initial leering (he started the nasty “evaluation staring” from way down the block as he approached) and comments about me to his buddies with my patented, “I will kill u, you a**hole” look and also told him to leave me the hell alone.
When I said “I don’t exist for you! Keep walking!” he got livid! He didn’t know how to respond but was mad as hell! He and his buds did walk away (after standing there staring stupidly for a few more seconds), but when the bus came he was back and defiantly trying to look through the bus window to see me and show me that he was going to assert his right to “own me visually” regardless of what I said. I guess it took a few minutes for him to figure out what “I don’t exist for you” really meant. Once he did, he came back and really tried to fight my assertion, even if he had to do it in the silliest way. He looked absolutely ridiculous craning his neck from the sidewalk trying to see where I sat on the bus to try to still harass me. Crazy!
But, yes, “I don’t exist for you” is powerful. Many men don’t even begin to have that thought in any corner of their brain. It goes against everything they’ve been taught in regards to women. I will say it constantly now!
Location: 60th St and 5th Ave, Manhattan, NYShare on Facebook