In 20+ years of being catcalled I have never had anyone else confront the harasser or ask me if I was ok. Not even once. If the person cat-calling was with a posse often times they would participate or laugh at their friend’s bravery. Barf. I have been followed for blocks by men asking me for my number, if I was married or had a boyfriend without getting a response, obviously. None of the persons we encountered stopped them or asked me if I was ok. Call me a pussy if you want, I’m not big on confrontation so I have pretty much avoided eye contact and kept my head down to prevent further harassment or being raped my entire life. There were a few occasions where the token Valentino wannabe caught me “on a bad day” and I talked back or had an epic meltdown like the time a dude followed me around the supermarket asking me to make him dinner. I looked at him like: “really? Really!,” asked him to tell me again what he wanted me to cook for him, and, when he said he fancied some chicken, I told him I was going to make him a roasted chicken stuffed with tampons screaming to the top of my lungs while holding a box of super super tampons (the red ones) so everyone in the supermarket could see us. He took a few steps back and screamed back I was crazy and surely a lesbian for not wanting to make him dinner. Yes, I have my moments. If you speak Spanish you can read the whole story here.
Three or four months ago, I got off the subway at the wrong stop in Harlem. It was only 9:45 pm, I was right outside the projects and I thought instead of waiting for a taxi like a sitting target, it made more sense to start walking the six or seven blocks to my apartment. Two blocks from my street a guy riding a bicycle spat on me while I crossed the street. It happened super fast, and before I could react he was getting away on his bike. In a matter of seconds, I stopped myself from yelling: “What the fuck, asshole?!” because I was afraid he would drop the bike and come back to hit/stab me or shoot me from where he was. None of the four men that were talking shit less than half a block away asked if I was ok when I walked by.
In early November a It’s show time! crew member came to an inch of my face and yelled “fucking white bitch!” to the top of her lungs because I had ignored their show and I didn’t look like I was going to open my handbag, take out my wallet, and give them money. Again, I’m extremely non-confrontational. I didn’t think about a gun or a knife. I thought: “this bitch can knock me out with a slap.” No one in the entire wagon reacted or asked me how I was after they got out of the train. I guess it’s a New York thing: we don’t get bothered by much.
My point being – if I’m unable to defend or stand up for myself, why would I even think about wearing a safety pin? Am I willing and able to take a punch or be stabbed defending someone else? Hell to the no honey boo boo child!
In theory the person wearing a safety pin is letting women, LGBTs, African Americans, Muslims and other minorities know that they will walk us home when we feel threatened, stay with us until we feel safe, and stand up to our bullies. It looks great on paper (who doesn’t want to be Batman?!) but in real life I don’t think we are equipped to handle an attack on ourselves or someone else. Last weekend a Muslim woman was harassed by Trump supporters in the subway and no one moved a finger to help her. In NYC! I wonder how many passengers had protested outside of Trump tower after the election, how many had instagrammed pics of the Union Square subway station post-it wall, and how many wore safety pins on their scarves or under their coats that day.