I Don’t Feel Safe Around Cis Women.
I was walking home one Saturday evening when two women began following and screaming at me.
“HEY! HEY MAN! HEY SIR! HEY MAN!” one of the women yelled, over and over. She ran across the road and closed up the distance between herself and me. “Can I ask you something?” she asked, staring me down hard a few inches from my face.
“Um, sure,” I said with a laugh. Ignoring them had not worked, so I tried being polite. “What’s up?”
“Why do you walk like that?” The first woman asked. She strode a few feet ahead, one arm up, her wrist limp and hips swaying. She cackled at her own homophobic pantomime, while her friend laughed and tugged at her sleeve. I winced at them, and laughed uncomfortably. They were just kids. It stung to see them being so cruel.
“Oh, you’ve got a pretty smile,” the first woman said, returning uncomfortably close to my side. “Look at that, look at his smile. Give me a smile again. Come on, give me a smile.”
My easily-frozen Autistic ass did not have any social scripts prepared for dealing with this. When men harass me, I have always gotten aggressive and fought back. But two young women cornering me, insulting and sexualizing me? I had no game plan for that.
I looked away from them and kept moving. The women continued after me down the full length of my block, mocking my movements, pelting me with questions, screaming at me, and pressing up close to my body while continually demanding I smile.
When I arrived at my apartment the two women stood outside a while, the first woman hollering “HEY GIRL, HEY GIRL” at me, in a mockery of a gay voice while flipping her wrist, until I disappeared inside. I stood in the dark with my back against the door. My shoulders slumped. I began to cry.
This is the type of degrading, gendered street harassment that women routinely report experiencing from men. Moments like these contribute to many cis women’s perceptions of the outside world and strangers, particularly unfamiliar men, as menacing and unsafe. Yet cis women often refuse to believe that I’ve been preyed upon by people they share an identity category with, and that because of such moments, I don’t feel safe…