“In the street, I walk with downcast eyes and a lump in my stomach”

Getty Images/iStockphoto One in two French people say they have been the victim of harassment or aggression

Getty Images/iStockphoto

I take the subway, the Uber, I avoid certain streets, certain neighborhoods. “Well, are you surprised? », I am told. “All girls do that, it’s normal. And again, you’re in France, you’re lucky.

HARASSMENT – I wrote this text under the influence of emotion, after being followed in the street. I wanted to chuckle. I then reworked it, deepened it, then shared it with those around me. It resonated with many women. I wanted to try to share it with more people.

Quite honestly, other than writing, I don’t know what else I can do. It’s just nine o’clock in the morning and I’ve already screamed and cried. It’s a story as old as the world, which I’m slowly beginning to accept. When you’re a feminist, you tend to think that you can change everything, and that through patience, dialogue, struggle, sometimes anger, everything will change. All men will understand one day. How else is it possible? Beyond questions of gender, ordinary sexism, wage inequality, task sharing, they will one day understand that you don’t follow a girl in the street, that you don’t insist when she doesn’t want to speak, that we don’t touch her, that we don’t attack her, that we don’t insult her. Sad list… Yet so true. I tick all the boxes in the last three years alone. And again, never a blow or a rape!

Security rather than freedom

From time to time it gets better, especially in winter when we are more often at home, when we are dressed less lightly. But lately I started to look down again when I walk alone in the street. To put myself in my bubble, to retract myself to form only a small tense mass, suspicious and aggressive. I did it without thinking, I gave carte blanche to my subconscious – it chose the security of my person rather than freedom. Look away. Fix the vacuum. Look on the ground, watch, contract the shoulders, lower the skirt, put the bra back in place, put your arms in front of your chest when it peaks. Heart exploding and hands shaking. It has almost become a sport. Evil in my body. Uncomfortable. Stalked. Watched.

There are weeks when it gets worse, so much so that you note in your laptop the times it happens: “July 19: he blocked my way on the bridge to ask me to go have a drink. July 20: He approached me when I was going into my stairwell to scare me. July 21: he gets up from the terrace and follows me for a long time in the street, I turn around, he is right behind me, he says not very pleasant things to me, I am scared, I break down, I scream”. It’s come full circle: it’s barely nine in the morning, I’ve already screamed and cried, what more can I do except write?

Guilt

Sometimes it hurts me when some men fall from the clouds “ah yeah damn I didn’t know it’s phew” and when some women tell me “oh yeah damn it never happens to me”. I know it’s true, I believe them! But for my part, I walk a lot in the city center (I don’t take my bike or transport because I’m lucky enough to do almost everything on foot) and I like to wear shorts, dresses, miniskirts and crop tops. Maybe that’s the difference. Maybe not, I don’t know. In any case, I come to tell myself that I dress too short, too vulgar. How reckless I am. That I’m too stubborn. It’s my fault. And I blame myself for thinking that, and I blame men who do that, and people who think that, and then everyone. Brighten up the mood!

And if you knew how much I like to walk… But lately, I’ve been doing it with a lump in my stomach, or I’ve been doing it less. I take the subway, the Uber, I avoid certain streets, certain neighborhoods. “Well, are you surprised? »I am told. “All girls do that, it’s normal. And again, you’re in France, you’re lucky”. Suddenly I feel discouraged, washed out, hateful, prostrate, and then I sleep, I laugh, I talk, I eat, I drink, I hug my boyfriend, I talk to my girlfriends, and it’s better… Until until it starts again.

Weariness

I think I accept (the hard way) that as you grow up you can’t change everything, you can’t fight everything and everyone, you can’t expect him to understand, or her sympathize, and you can’t scream and cry at nine in the morning on your way to work. It’s too tiring…

I don’t know yet what the middle ground is, I don’t yet know how not to let myself be affected, and I don’t know to what extent I am ready to change my daily life and restrict my freedom to be more serene. I still have time to find out.

But I intend to repeat myself often to give myself the courage that I am lucky to have wonderful women and men around me – even if we don’t always agree on everything. And tell me that at least, apart from screaming and crying, I can always write this very small text which will surely not change the face of the world, but which has the merit of existing.

To those who aren’t malicious or broken, who really want to meet girls, flirt innocently on the street, it doesn’t always have to be easy to understand, but you just have to put yourself in your shoes, and not take it the wrong way. if one is withdrawn, if one sends you to ball.

On the contrary: we finally dare to do it, we finally dare to shout, to fight back, to rebel, so be understanding – perhaps proud – but not offended. And if you see a little bit that we are uncomfortable… Do not insist, and go your way!

See also on The HuffPost :

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