In our last post, we alluded to the fact that some of the people who enthusiastically gathered around us in Washington Square Park were a little too enthusiastic. Overall our experience in the park was joyful and wonderful…in particular for the first hour and the last hour we were pretty much left alone and not bothered by anyone…but it was marred at the midpoint by some unfortunate behavior on the part of a handful of guys who didn’t seem to care how uncomfortable they made us if it meant getting close to a topless girl. Afterwards, one of our members asked if she could write a few words about how she feels on this subject and share them here. Of course we said yes. The floor is hers:
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We meet for fun, mostly. We don’t like tan lines or being too hot on a summer day, enviously eyeing cool and carefree topless men. We do like books, bodies of all shapes and sizes, and hanging out. When people ask what we’re doing and why, we typically answer in these pretty simple terms: it’s fun, y’all.
And it should be fun. Law—and increasingly, popular opinion—support the idea that the female body is not particularly more obscene than its male counterpart, and our group rarely meets with negative attention (occasional stink-eye aside). An excellent and fantastically photogenic case in point:
People of both genders are often pleased to see us, and for every stink-eye there are at least two people (especially old ladies walking their dogs!) who voice support and excitement.
But for every two of those there’s someone—guys, sorry, but I mean a someone of the male gender—whose support is maybe just a little too enthusiastic.
Men who sit just a little too close. Men who lurk in nearby bushes (that has to be uncomfortable, dude). Men who snap incessant pictures even when asked to stop. Men who approach to say “Any chance of a date?”—that’s verbatim, by the way.
Honestly? It’s guys like this that make me (personally, mind—I speak for no one else) want to go topless in public. Because it does make me uncomfortable and sometimes angry. And I don’t think that’s right. Like most women, I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to catcalls; it takes a special something extra to make my skin crawl.
I know the reason most women would never feel comfortable taking their top off in the park—and, sadly, the reason many women don’t even feel comfortable walking down the street in something revealing as a tank top—are these men with that special something extra, which, I assume, is something somewhere between ignorance and misogyny.
I don’t want that type of man to be in control of what I do.
So we don’t let this type of harassment ruin our day. We have our supporters, each other, books and sunshine to counteract it, so, hey, creepy guy, fuck off—we’re just here having fun.
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So…what’s “too enthusiastic”? Too enthusiastic is doing shit you’d never in a million years do if we had shirts on, and that you would never in a billion years do to a guy you don’t know, whether or not he had his shirt off. It’s stuff that violates the universally comprehended rules of common courtesy and personal space. Yes, we’re out in public, and yes, we’re doing something you don’t see every day, so sure, you might feel like snapping a picture to remember it by or to show your friends. That’s fine. You can be friendly, like this guy…
…polite, respectful, and after a brief hello, gone.
Just don’t be a creep. It’s really not that hard.