I grew up in New York City, Brooklyn mostly, and I can remember when male strangers started talking to me on the street. I was about 12 years old. These were not boys hollering at me but grown men. Well it was the 80s and I was allowed to walk everywhere alone: to the library, corner store, and the arcade, etc.. Now New Yorkers learn early on not to talk to strangers. So I was initially thrown off by the unsolicited attention. Just like pregnancy, other females don't prepare you for it.
These gestures had sexual undertones; even at that tender age I could tell. It felt weird in the beginning and as my body matured I grew accustomed to it. Some would say a simple hello, while others commented on your body and the more intimidating ones followed you for blocks. I learned that when you ignored some, they would unleash a verbal wrath on you that could make Katt Williams blush. On some occasions a man would say something sincere or he would make you laugh, harassment is interpretation, I guess.
Your attire does not matter. You could be drowning in a huge winter coat or cooling off in denim shorts and the attention came your way. Of course the more sexily dressed you were perceived, the more intense were the gestures. Sometimes you had a bad day, and you just left work and were headed to the A train. You put your headphones on to block out the world, but not too loud because this is the Big Apple and you better be aware of your surroundings. That is when you hear it, "Smile,". "You too pretty to not be smiling." You ignore it and just want to get home. Of course he takes it personal and "Bitch" rolls off his tongue as if it was the first word he uttered as a baby. That is an extreme scenario, but not uncommon. My sister said the late Biggie Smalls, cussed her out for not responding to one of his boys as she was walking the streets of downtown Manhattan.
Women in large US cities, overseas, and probably damn near everywhere can possibly relate to this video. My girlfriend told me the men in Italy are quite aggressive on the streets. I know for a fact the men in the Caribbean are no slouches either. Over at clutchmagonline and article is stating that the white men in the street harassment video above were edited out. This video was shot over 10 hours on the busy streets of the NYC. She could have came in contact with thousands of people. The majority appear to be civil. If they truly edited out the white men to target non-whites then this entire video is tainted.
Now when I initially described the men that engaged with me, I never attached race to it. I have been greeted by black, white, and Hispanic men. Maybe you get the worse from your own, but the most crude things have come out of Black men's mouths. I see nothing wrong with saying hello, or how are you doing, maybe even a simple compliment. It is the immature banter that seems played out and ridiculous.
Yesterday a man, he was white, said hello in a kind gesture outside of Publix grocery store. I returned the gesture. It did not feel like harassment. A women knows when she is being harassed or annoyed. I currently live in Central Florida, so walking down the street is not as common, we live in our cars. So a brief engagement is usually just that. There comes a time when a woman reaches a certain age and that attention comes to an end. Will I miss it, probably not. What I especially won't miss is the insistence of someone telling me to smile. I am not a robot and will smile when I see fit. If you want to engage, a simple hello will suffice.