#NoWomanEver has come to accompany observations of the way women are harassed and then insulted and the sarcastic ways we now relate it. This new hashtag is starting to take off with women tweeting their experiences about street or online harassment and the insane way we are expected to react. #NoWomanEver is meant to point out how impossible it is for women to positively respond to a man who so blatantly and disrespectfully hits on her.
"JESUS yo a$$ is fat," he yelled out.
Finally found a good Christian man! We've been praying together ever since. #NoWomanEver
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) June 18, 2016
The posts are snarky but full of truth. As Twitter user @FruittiLoopz posted, “He told me I was cute, I ignored him. He then called me an ugly cow as he followed me. At last, the man of my dreams found. #NoWomanEver.”
@ShinyBlackGirl1 wrote, “I was a lesbian, but after he told me that I was too pretty and that he could change my mind, I couldn’t help myself! #NoWomanEver.”
Or maybe it’s just pure misunderstanding as in the case of @adequatehalo: ”Oh no, I wasn’t ignoring you. I just didn’t hear your degrading comments the first time. Thanks for getting louder and closer. #NoWomanEver.”
While said in jest, these #NoWomanEver tweets are pathetically true. Every single female friend of mine has experienced harassment from a male. As for myself, in our beautiful city of St. George I have had old guys in Wal-Mart try to look down my shirt as I merely walked past them. Proposed to by a complete stranger in another grocery store parking lot. Continually harassed by two different men through text message, months after having told each of them “no.” Been sent unsolicited … pictures. Asked for pictures. Been ignored completely by men when conducting business with my husband, even if the business was for me. Been sent Facebook messages by complete strangers either telling me how hot a specific random picture was (meaning they had searched many of them) or, conversely, told that I needed to shut my mouth on public article comments lest they would come shut it for me. Begged to do oral sex on a complete stranger for, and I quote, “Can I give you 20 bucks and you’ll do it?” Even my own sexual identity is questioned, because it doesn’t match with what they perceive it should be.
"He followed me three blocks all the way to my home until I had to call the police, how romantic 😍" – said #NoWomanEver
— Alexis Isabel (@lexi4prez) June 18, 2016
These #NoWomanEver tweets, while snarky and funny, speak to a higher problem. When we say something makes us uncomfortable — like strange men walking by and telling us to smile — it doesn’t mean that men as a whole get to decide we’re being “bitchy” or overly-sensitive. It means we get to decide what does or doesn’t make us feel good, and we shouldn’t be bullied into saying otherwise.
Before I get the “not all men” comments, let me my make my readers starkly aware that I know this. I do not hate men. I am married to an incredible one and have many male friends whom I respect and who respect me. But the “not all men” argument does not change the fact that it happens in overwhelming numbers, forcing us to speak out against it.
"I deserve to harassed online and in real life for having opinions that don't center the male experience," said #NoWomanEver
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) June 18, 2016
If you aren’t one of those men, the problem is not you. Nor is street or online harassment completely a male thing. Many women have done the same, and men are expected to like it, because hey — they’re men. Not so. Each individual gets to decide what respect means to them. Period.
Then again, maybe they’re right. Maybe the men who messaged me to tell me I need to shut up and learn my place know what they’re really talking about. Maybe I do need to step back and stop advocating for my own personal rights.