Proof that Street Harassment Isn't Just a Greeting

by Doyin Oyeniyi

The recent Hollaback! video of a woman getting catcalled while walking around NYC has reignited discussions about street harassment, as well as feminism in the context of race and privilege. While I have a problem with the video editing out white men, I think it still shines a light on the harassment women experience when they're just trying to live their lives. Unfortunately, discussions around street harassment usually come with their share of asinine responses and defenses. The most common one is something along the lines of “So men can’t even say 'hi' anymore?” *gag*

Statements like that are the reason why I don't typically engage in discussions about street harassment. I just don't have the time to explain over and over again that a man's right to talk to me does not trump my right to safely and comfortably go about my business. And before you want to innocently (read: ignorantly) ask how men talking to me on the street can be unsafe, please read this, this, this, and this. When women are getting attacked and killed no matter how they respond to strange men in the streets, we all know it’s not just a matter of saying hi.

But thank goodness for Comedian Abbi Crutchfield, who put a twist on this (old, tired, unrealistic) argument of "it's just 'hi'" with one simple question:

No, seriously, riddle me that, guys. I'll wait.

After that, This Week in Blackness CEO Elon James White also had an interesting point:

Why can't men just not say anything? And then he started #DudesGreetingDudes.

Hashtags like #YouOkSis and #NotJustHello, created by Feminista Jones and Mikki Kendall, respectively, have been important in breaking down what street harassment is and how it affects women of all identities. #DudesGreetingDudes joins the conversation with a hilarious look at the blatant hypocrisy behind "it's just a greeting." If it's really just a greeting and has nothing to do with sex (or power or general disrespect for a woman's agency) then why don't men greet men and just leave women out of it completely?

No, seriously, take those wonderful greetings that I'm sure have worked for you with women and share them with the guys who'll really appreciate it.

This hashtag, while hilarious, also reminds me about an unfortunate part of discussing any kind of oppression: some oppressors will only listen to people like them in order to even begin to get the point. So men, if you refuse to hear the women who are telling you about their lived experiences on hashtags such as #YouOKSis and #NotJustHello, take a look through #DudesGreetingDudes and please

Image: Giphy