I work two jobs in downtown New Orleans that happen to be just a few blocks away from each other. My day job is a block off of Canal Street into the CBD (Central Business District) and my night job is two blocks off of Canal in the opposite direction into the French Quarter. This Friday, I was walking from job one to job two. (Actually, was walking to get a burrito and a drink and then to job two). And I had the displeasure of having to cross Bourbon Street. Bourbon on a Friday during the day seems to be one of the first places the tourists come once they’re off their planes and is crowded, stinky, and loud. Plus everyone is shitfaced and disorderly and have no idea that other people exist.
Street Harassment #1 on this short walk between jobs
The Lucky Dog man on the corner of Bourbon and Iberville:
“Where you going, ma?”
And continued to look me up and down and stare me down for blocks after.
This is something I’ms use many women have experienced and have probably been told to laugh it off or that it’s not a big deal- but the stare this man was giving me- was not a compliment or cordial or casual- it was threatening and menacing. It was scary. It was a glare that made me self conscious that my uniform shirt had the name of my job on it- for fear he’d show up there and try to find me- which is something that has happened multiple times.
#2 Walking down Iberville near Chartres street just two blocks from my destination:
A guy on the street who had to be around his early twenties:
“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? I don’t mean no harm, baby. Really, you not gonna stop? Bitch!”
These kind of comments are the reason why I try to walk with my head down in public- because eye contact can be enough for someone to try and talk to me. I am walking to work and do not want to engage in conversations with strangers. This is a fact- I will not stop and give a tourist directions either when I’m worried about being late to my job.
Walking with my head down is something that I should not have to do to avoid eye contact with men who want to hit on me. It does not always work and often backfires with many comments like “Why you look so sad baby?” or “Smile.” or “He got you mad again? I wouldn’t do that to you.”
I cannot say it enough- just because I am in public does not mean I am public property.
This is something I hated when I was pregnant and had many people and strangers wanting to touch me, make comments on my belly and boobs, and ask me personal questions.
Also, whenever someone on the street says they mean no harm- red flag up.
And lastly, this person is a great example of male privilege. Just because you’re a man and you wanted to talk to me and I continued on my way- I am a Bitch for ignoring you. You are not entitled to my body or conversation. And I am not a bitch for ignoring you and continuing on my way. I may be a bitch for many other reasons but I am not a bitch for ignoring a man hollering at me on the street.
Mind you- both of these instances happened within blocks of eachother- on a five minute commute between jobs- on the streets of new orleans- right before work.
Street Harassment and Sexual Harassment can take place anywhere- even if you’re avoiding street time.
Can you see how experiencing these kinds of interactions daily on commutes to and from work can make women feel unsafe?
I am so tired of being treated like public property.