I am 26 years old and I Feel Lucky that I Have Not Been Raped.

Sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, street harassed, followed, exposed to, leered at, stalked, butt slapped, butt and breasts  grabbed, in public spaces, cursed out 987784 ways to sunday by men bigger than me for not responding to catcalls, physically assaulted for asserting agency over my or my friend’s safety, venomously berated for rejecting advances to my body and safety? Absolutely. Ooooof I lost count.

Lost count.

And THEN, I am asked to smile for a man I don’t know from a ham sandwich? And then I am asked to be more receptive to  any and all advances and compliments from anyone with a penis?

Excuse me while I go break everything within a 5-mile radius.

When men start walking down the street smiling like clowns then we can have a discussion on women’s mean mugs. Until then, just know that it is a defense mechanism and you have NO idea what that woman has been through at the hands of men who were “just trying to give a compliment.” If your advances are turned down, so what? I have zero sympathy. Women are abused every second and still have to deal with men and the abuser apologists. That’s what we call life. Unfortunately.

With all of that, I have never been raped and I feel so lucky I haven’t.

Every woman I know has endured all of the aforementioned abuse and I know a lot of women, friends, acquaintances and colleagues who have been raped. They are the strongest people I know. I honor them. I respect them. I love them These are the three most singular virtues that men who subject women to this type of behavior are lacking. And the men who defend them and this behavior.

I am 26 years old and I Feel Lucky that I Have Not Been Raped.

Sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, street harassed, followed, exposed to, leered at, stalked, butt slapped, butt and breasts  grabbed, in public spaces, cursed out 987784 ways to sunday by men bigger than me for not responding to catcalls, physically assaulted for asserting agency over my or my friend’s safety, venomously berated for rejecting advances to my body and safety? Absolutely. Ooooof I lost count.

Lost count.

And THEN, I am asked to smile for a man I don’t know from a ham sandwich? And then I am asked to be more receptive to  any and all advances and compliments from anyone with a penis?

Excuse me while I go break everything within a 5-mile radius.

When men start walking down the street smiling like clowns then we can have a discussion on women’s mean mugs. Until then, just know that it is a defense mechanism and you have NO idea what that woman has been through at the hands of men who were “just trying to give a compliment.” If your advances are turned down, so what? I have zero sympathy. Women are abused every second and still have to deal with men and the abuser apologists. That’s what we call life. Unfortunately.

With all of that, I have never been raped and I feel so lucky I haven’t.

Every woman I know has endured all of the aforementioned abuse and I know a lot of women, friends, acquaintances and colleagues who have been raped. They are the strongest people I know. I honor them. I respect them. I love them These are the three most singular virtues that men who subject women to this type of behavior are lacking. And the men who defend them and this behavior.

As I type this, I am boiling. I think of all the shit women endure and brush off every single day because of rape culture and pigs posing as men.

You guessed it, a gun. A *&^%ing GUN!! I looked at my friends and we were gone. Ghost. The wind. I ran track since the age of 10 and at this time I was on the track team at Temple but I had never, ever, ever, ever, ever ran so fast in my entire life. This man really had a gun. And really showed it as if he was going to use it. Because I wouldn’t dance with him? Because I wouldn’t give him my number?

From that day on, I never went to a party like that one. I rearranged my entire approach to going out and socializing. I was way more cautious in the way I turned down guys. To be honest, that guy put fear in my heart. I was angry about it. I am still angry about it. Why must I be afraid to say no? Why must I be cautious in the way I reject a possible suitor? When did it become ok for men to treat women who reject them like animals? I know not all men act like dogs in heat and I know that is a wildly extreme situation. I was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person who clearly had the wrong upbringing. But the fact that the name calling, the cat calling, the grabbing, the staring, the grunting occurs and will continue to occur, angers me. Men need to do better. Women need to raise their boys better. Until we make some changes, I’m sure there will be more and more stories like this one.

You know this, this street harassment is a daily experience in the city. So, in the morning it takes you double the time to get dressed. You want to wear something comfortable but nothing too revealing. You want to wear something that makes you feel good but that doesn’t attract too much attention.

You wear a long dress that covers your legs. It clings to your body so you throw over a purse that covers your back so that when the street harassers linger, they only linger on your purse. Not your behind.

Your head held high, your gum fresh, your elbows swinging with your keys or another potential weapon between your fingers – you are ready. You go out because someone told you that these streets could eat you alive. But you’re not about to let that keep you from enjoying your home and walking outside on a beautiful day. You are ready for battle and love.

Always a special kind of hell dressing to venture to public spaces in warm months. Always a multi-part hysteria of what clothing will allow me reprieve from pigs posing as men. The pain-staking preparation of gauging what kind of day I’ll have based on how a drape of a skirt or dress frames my body. Imagining and preparing for the violation of my space and safety. It’s draining….how a simple outfit may be the difference between a shitty public experience or a shittier public experience.

Nicola Briggs shares her advice to women on being comfortable in your own skin at 'The Window Sex Project' Workshop. Briggs is widely known for standing up and literally shouting out a male flasher, 51-year-old Mario Valdivia on the train who was subsequently arrested. 

The youtube video of the ordeal garnered over a million views and she was honored in March at the 5th Annual Women’s Awards.  Briggs said other male subway riders kept the Valdivia on the train until the police arrived. This was not the first time he did something like this, he did this back in 2007 and after making bail from this incident he did it a month later. Valdivia will be deported to Mexico. 

Briggs said: “It’s about getting over the embarrassment of that circumstance; and bringing the shame, taking away the shame, from you, as a woman being violated — and bringing the shame back on the perpetrator.”

These women were part of Sydnie Mosley’s 'The Window Sex Project' workshop in Harlem last month addressing street harassment and solutions.  Sydnie L. Mosley is the creator and “is excited that our first self-produced performance project is rooted in the local community and committed to affecting change through dance.”

The Window Sex Project is raising funds to put on their production. Please support here

The Window Sex Project addresses and tackles the every day practice in which women are “window shopped,” that is forced to bear unsolicited verbal harassment from men while walking on the street. Through community workshops and choreographed performance, The Window Sex Project will give voice to these concerns and restore agency to women by equipping them to manage street harassment, celebrating their bodies and creating a public artwork, specifically a dance performance which takes place in an art gallery.