“Walking By” is a personal essay recounting an incident of harassment, written from the emotional perspective of the victim (my 21 year-old self) but also subtly interweaving an objectively oblivious perspective of an outsider to same the incident. By creating a situational narrative, contrasting the perspective of an insider (the victim) and of an outsider (a passerby, and the reader), I will be making room for social commentary on the common unobservant nature of people but also highlighting the nature of women in those situations.
In the current political and media climate (2018, United States), discussion of sexual/physical/verbal harassment seems to have overwhelmed every outlet as new cases continue to be brought to light; however, with all this talk about the problem and its consequences, there hasn’t been much on ways to prevent it, much to my and other women’s frustration. How can we prevent situations of harassment when we can’t even tell it is happening? Although, I am not qualified to offer any suggestions as to a course of prevention, I am qualified to tell my own story.
Slipping my phone back into my pocket, I took a step forward only to be stopped. A young man suddenly appeared before me, interrupting my path. The way his eyes were staring directly at me was startling. He was talking animatedly, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying or read lips very well.
If you were walking by, it must have looked like an innocent encounter between two people. Neither of us looked threatening. There was a distinct amount of space between this stranger and me that afforded just enough personal space to acknowledge we didn’t know each other, but close enough to imply we were communicating. This stranger and I were both standing outside of a subway station, so to you walking by it must have looked like he was asking for directions.
“Hold on, Emily,” I said, dislodging my left earbud. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“I said, ‘You don’t need Tinder to find a boy,’” he smiled. “Tell your friend you’ll call back later.”
If interested in reading the rest of “Walking By,” you can read it in Cherry Bombe Magazine's #86This issue.