Tag Archives: street harassment

Stanley Kubrick, Chopsticks, and Other Ways to Harass an Asian American Girl

Reader Caitlin sent in her video about street harassment and the very strange predilection for men to lead in with her race when trying to get her attention. In her video “How to Hit on an Asian Girl/How Not to Harass an Asian Girl,” Caitlin goes through some of the most ridiculous things said to Asian American women who are just in public space.

Her recommendations:

1. Asian women are not equatable to Asian food. Even if you’re hungry.
2. You’ve cultivated an impressive catalogue of 80’s war movies. Well done sir. But the sidewalk is not your mother’s basement and I am not an internet forum. Keep the movie quotes to yourself.
3. Pop culture references that invariably suggest someone is foreign, submissive/docile, or willing to service you sexually should always be avoided. In other words: find a new fetish.
4. Seriously, when has anything referencing the Vietnam war ever gotten anyone laid? (Stanley Kubrick, who knew your legacy would be Asian female street harassment?)
5. If the first thing you think of when you see an Asian woman is “I should ask her to feed me,” you should know you’re not fit for human companionship. Period. Get a rice cooker. It won’t care if you fetishize it.
6. This is America; assume the Asian female you’re chatting with is American. Talk to her about red vs. blue politics, her favorite type of pie, who is better: Katy Perry or Ke[s]ha, or at the very least, baseball – not about foods that use chopsticks. Your ability to feed yourself is an accomplishment – but she doesn’t need to know that.

Caitlin’s video was hilarious. I’ve heard all these stories – and so much more! – from my Asian American friends over the years. And, if I was queen of the airwaves, I’d have this running as a PSA, along with other notices about street harassment in general. But there’s one thing that keeps sticking out in my mind, and it’s generally the same refrain we hear over and over again when we post abut street harassment: the idea of men watching the vid and going “What am I supposed to say then?” (Yeah, just headdesk and move on.)

I always think about a certain verse on Murs’ “Dark Skinned White Girls,” a song that’s really problematic despite its good intentions. The verse about mixed girls was fairly revealing about the mindset of these kind of guys (emphasis mine):

Now half and half of mixed girls
I know what the battle be
Everytime you go out it’s “whats your nationality?”
Everybody always wanna dig up in ya background
You don’t look… now how does that sound?
I couldn’t tell you were… oh is that right?
Do you take it as a compliment or start up a fight?
Venezualan and Indian, Rican and Dominican
Japanese or Portuguese, Quarter of Brazilian
White and Korean, Black and Pinay
We’ll find out later
It don’t matter, ya fly
It don’t really matter to most of us guys
We just need an excuse to get close or say “hi”

Somehow, it never seems to matter what the woman likes or appreciates, which is this unexplored dimension of street harassment. If the objection to women protesting street harassment is that we should forgive a man’s clumsy attempts to pick up a woman he finds attractive, then wouldn’t not offending a woman be pretty high on that man’s priority list? But there’s no way to yell out “sucky sucky five dollar” at a woman passing by and not be offensive. So there’s clearly another motive at play. What is it? What makes racism so appealing for street harassers?


Black Women x the Streets x Harassment
Kill Me or Leave Me Alone: Street Harassment as a Public Health Issue
Addicted to Race 119: Annie Le, Gospel Tours, Fractions, Street Harassment
Oh You Can’t Speak To A Brotha?
Racism as a Lifestyle Choice
Catcalling is a Cross Cultural Annoyance

Kill Me or Leave Me Alone: Street Harassment as a Public Health Issue

By Guest Contributor Renina Jarmon (M.Dot) cross-posted from New Model Minority

This one is for Afrolicious and the notion of Appophenia.

Last Saturday on the way home on the metro platform I was tired.

I had been dancing. Bier was consumed. I spent the afternoon reading, and the evening posted up with my friend All Spirit and then the night dancing.

All Spirit bounced early, and he was my ride so I darted home on the metro. Looking back I should have asked another homie for a ride home.

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El acoso callejero

By Guest Contributor Elizabeth Mendez Berry, originally posted at El Diario

Editor’s Note: An English-language version of this piece is available under the cut

Fui acosada por primera vez a los 13 años de edad. Dos hombres me siguieron en su camioneta por varias cuadras, vociferando unas vulgaridades de lo que me querían hacer. A los 18, un “piropeador” corrió tras de mí y trató de entrar a mi apartamento a la fuerza.

Mi experiencia no es única: el acoso callejero es un problema diario pero raramente reconocido. Según varias investigaciones citadas por Holly Kearl, autora del importante libro Stop Street Harassment, entre el 80 y 99 porciento de las mujeres han sido objeto de atencion agresiva y no deseada en la calle. Ella encontró que el 75% de mujeres habían sido perseguidas por hombres desconocidos y que el 57% habían sido manoseadas de forma sexual en la calle, algunas cuando tenían tan sólo 10 años de edad.

Esta epidemia tiene consecuencias graves. Investigadores de la Universidad de Connecticut encontraron que “la experiencia del acoso callejero está directamente relacionada con una mayor preocupación acerca de la aparencia física y la vergüenza corporal, y está relacionada indirectamente con un miedo elevado de la violación”. En un país donde una de cada tres mujeres es víctima del asalto sexual, estos temores no son infundados.

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Hey Baby: Link Round-up & Open Thread

By Guest Contributor Alex Raymond, cross-posted from Border House

Trigger warning: Street harassment.

So, recently a Flash game was released that caused a bit of a stir on a number of gaming (and feminist) websites. The game is called Hey, Baby, and it is a game about street harassment. It is a first-person shooter where you play as a woman walking around a city fighting off waves of men who approach you while repeating “classic” street harassment lines, everything from the notorious “Smile, baby” to shouted rape threats. Killing the harassers results in a gravestone popping up with their line engraved on it. There are also both male and female bystanders who do nothing and can’t be killed. If possible, I do recommend playing the game a little before reading this post; it’s a Flash game and only takes a minute to play, although it is quite violent.

There have been a number of different reactions to the game around the internet. It has started a conversation in the gaming online community about street harassment (and in the feminist blogosphere about satirically violent video games), and for that alone, I think this is a win. But I’d like to take a closer look at the various reactions surrounding the game.

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by Guest Contributor Fiqah, originally published at Possum Stew
[NOTE: This post was originally penned back in September. The police officer in question is obviously no longer a threat to my safety. However, because a lot of what I discuss in this post is triggering, it took me a while to get to a place where I felt comfortable posting it.  If you have any bad experiences with police harassment or street/sidewalk harassment, you might want to skip this post altogether.]

Today I cried on a stack of lemons at the supermarket. I should note here that crying in public, much less on produce, is atypical Fiqah behavior. Public crying is embarrassing AND unattractive, and as a pretty and vain chronic sinusitis sufferer, I know that Puffy-Sobby-Wetface is NOT my best look. But today, that’s exactly what I did: stuck my elbows in a stack of sunny yellow lemons, buried my face in my palms, and sobbed. It was early afternoon, and the produce section was thankfully empty. I don’t know how long I stood there before I was able to collect myself, wipe my obviously-been-crying face, clean my smeary glasses, and make my purchase. I ignored the eyes of the cashier, the concerned and alarmed expression of the man bagging my groceries, and the fiery burning of my beet-red ears as I left the store. You fucking idiot! I thought as I made my way back home. You forgot he was there!

I guess now would be a good time to explain myself.

For the past month or so, I have been the recipient of the unwanted attentions of a cop. This officer, whose beat is at a park in my neighborhood, first approached me when I was coming back from running some morning errands. At the time, I was carrying a few large shopping bags and wearing ear buds blasting M.I.A. I didn’t see him until he was right next to me, grabbing one of the heavier bags right out of my hand and startling me stupid. The cop, a Latino man in his late thirties, purred a too-familiar “hello” and told me that he it looked like I needed some help. All this as he took off his sunglasses and frankly assessed my bosom. A chill had gone through my whole body as I’d smiled and stammered a nervous thank you, moving my purse around to from my side to my front in an attempt to cover my breasts. Continue reading

I Didn’t Want the Police

by M.Dot, originally published at Model Minority

Yesterday I was in the train station not feeling too hot. The outfit was fly, but I just was not in the mood for the juvenile attention that the outfit seemed to provoke. As if clothes provoke behavior. These young men all have home training, whether they choose to use it is something completely different.

As I stood on the platform, alone, as I just gotten off the express to get the local, a young buck, approximately 17 years old Black male, grazed my book and said “Why you touch me?”

I responded.

“What? You touched me”.

Then he walked up on me.

Typically, I would be all for the teaching moment. Or even challenging him on some “Fall back ock.”


I had had a long day. Mercury is clearly in retrograde, as I attempted to go to a meeting, but it that was actually on Friday night, not Saturday morning. Then I went to brunch and I realized I left my wallet home. The wallet was in another bag and I failed to transfer it back over. I tried to put together a little “Welcome back M.dot” get-together for Saturday night, but I had to cancel it because of conflicts with schedules.

I was bummed out.

So yeah. I had had it and it wasn’t even 2pm yet.

But the day had improved because I got a few books from the library, one of which was. “Shadowboxing, Black Feminist Representations” by Joy James, which is what I was reading when the young man bumped into me. In fact, at the time of the incident, I was reading a sentence where Angela Y. Davis, was speaking on the need to eradicate the prison system as it exists today.

So back to the young man.

He walked up on me, and both I paid it mind, but then paid it no mind. I had been getting harassed all day. Sad to say, but I was partially desensitized.

He mumbled something, and I did my, “Why are you enraged, what’s the problem?” Looking back at that moment, he was slightly
pacing like a lion.

There was no one else in our area of the platform.

Then it changed.

He walked up on me again, and said, cocked his head, and said “Don’t touch me, I will do something to you.” Continue reading