This past Saturday, I went to a rally in downtown Los Angeles to protest proposed legislation that impedes upon the rights of women across the country.
I took the subway to and from the event. There is 10 blocks between my apartment and the train station; as someone who has lived in a city where her main forms of transportation were public transit and her own two feet, walking 10 blocks is nothing.
Getting to the rally was fine. On my way home, about six blocks from my apartment, a man driving by on the opposite side of the street honked at me to get my attention. I barely turned my head and kept walking. I watched as he sped past, into the left turn lane at the stop ahead. There was a convenience store on the corner, so I figured he was just going to the store and, well, fuck. I guess this is going to be awkward. I was also thinking, "Maybe he thinks he knows me?" or "Eh, he probably wasn’t even honking at me, whatever," because, come on, I was literally holding a sign in my right hand that said “RESPECT our bodies, PROTECT our rights.” No way this dude is that stupid/gross, right?
He turned left before I got to the crosswalk. I could see him idling in the loading zone in front of the store. I kind of shook my head as I crossed the street, still convincing myself that this was just an unfortunate coincidence. I made it halfway across the street before he started honking again, this time more insistently. I responded (stupidly) by flipping him off and picked up my pace.
A block later, he was back. Still honking. I switched my sign to my left hand and used my right to continue flipping him off. I thought, "This is fucking ridiculous," as I watched him AGAIN turn left onto the next street. Once he was out of sight, I illegally crossed the street from where I was and broke into a run. Only two blocks to go at this point. I noticed there was nowhere for him to idle on the street he turned on, so I was probably home free.
I made it to the corner of my street when he popped out right across from me. As I rounded the corner, I pulled my phone out of my pocket. I had locked myself out of my apartment that morning (of course) and needed to buzz myself into the building. He drove up right next to me as I reached the gate. I finally turned to him, exasperated and scared, and shook my phone at him: “This is harassment. I am going to call the police if you don’t leave me alone.” He said nothing. He also didn’t go anywhere.
Going over this whole thing, I probably should have kept walking. Instead, I punched in my apartment code and buzzed myself in. I figured it looked like I didn’t live there, so. Whatever. I just wanted to be off the street. I assume he drove away after that. I sat on the steps outside my apartment and waited for my landlord; I went over everything I should have done from the first moment I noticed this guy following me. But, you know what? Fuck that. This shouldn’t have happened to begin with. It makes me sick that in the end I questioned MY actions more than I did his. There is no “right” way to deal with this bullshit — this tired, dumb, powerplay bullshit that is no one’s fault or responsibility except the people who make the decision to pull it in the first place.
I’m over it, you guys. You should be, too.