Chances are, if you’re a woman, you’ve been sexually harassed in a public space. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that rape culture is alive and manifests its ugly, hairy face in our daily interactions with strange men on the street.
This reality makes even the act getting dressed in the morning stressful; you think to yourself, Will I be harassed if I wear this top, or these boots, or these jeans? Which way should I walk to work? Sometimes you’ve got to tap deep into your inner warrior just to step out and face the day.
There is no “best” way to deal with street harassment because sometimes the threat of violence is so imminent that staying silent is the best survival tactic, but that’s okay. We all have our own ways of dealing with unwarranted advances, and by speaking up when it happens, we can let harassers know that what they’re doing is not acceptable.
Remember: As a woman, you are not obligated to smile, you are not even obligated to be nice to anyone, let alone a strange man on the street. Sometimes, we’ve gotta be, well, nasty women to actually have our boundaries respected.
So the next time you’re gearing up to go outside, think about it: What kind of Street Harassment Warrior are you?
Note: It’s okay if you’re not any kind of warrior; we’re all just doing our best out there, no matter how we approach—or don’t approach—assholes in the streets. And also, know your rights. Here is a list of each U.S. state’s street harassment law, compiled by StopStreetHarassment.org.