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First of all, my HAIR, you guys! My garish, overprocessed, completely me hair! My mom and I got ours professionally done for Mother’s Day. If I didn’t look 100% like a j-pop star before, I sure as hell do now – even though I do not know a single j-pop song and my musical taste runs more in this direction. And, my god, do little girls love me. At least three of them grin and point on my typical daily walk. I’m even cooler than Elsa.

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Now that I’ve gotten my cuteness out of the way, though, I’m about to get ranty on you. I took these photos yesterday on my front porch in the span of eight minutes. In that time, I fell prey to three honkings and two shouted remarks. You could make the case that the honks weren’t directed at me, that they were a mere exhortation of another driver or a signal to a cat in the road. But when you’ve spent twenty years existing while female, you kind of know. You know when it’s an accident and when it’s flirting and when it’s domination. I’d like to hope that it’s just misguided flirtation. I sympathize enough with the socially awkward to understand such things. But it’s not flirting when you pull up beside me on the sidewalk to scream in my face. And I wish I could call five times in eight minutes an exaggeration or an exception. Spoiler: it isn’t.

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I refuse to accept that a barrage of objectification must come standard with being female and feminine. This is what objectification really is. It’s not about sexualization. It’s not about consenting to perform in media that some find degrading. At its core, it’s about refusal to acknowledge humanity. You can absolutely model nude and do porn and perform burlesque in settings that affirm your humanity. But there’s no way that screaming at a pretty girl out your car window affirms anyone’s dignity. I’m left startled and shaken, and you’re left looking like Captain Asshole.

By all means appreciate me. Mentally undress me to your heart’s content. But the minute you decide that your desires are more important than my personal boundaries, you are no longer worth my time.

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Yell back. Flip them off. Don’t shut up. And, by god, don’t let it change who you are. I’ve known women to mute their personal styles for fear of the constant unwanted attention. I’ve seen people become paranoid, afraid to engage with any stranger at all. I refuse to do that. I will dress colorfully and I will be a sunny person who gives the benefit of the doubt, because that is who I am. Douchebags don’t change that. If I let them, they win.

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Still not asking for it.