Street harassment is just one way in which I benefit from the privilege of being partnered. When I go in public, I'm usually accompanied by my boyfriend; when we're in clubs, at concerts, or just taking a walk, I am clearly marked by a man, and other men don't move in. When we walk down the street, I'm not demeaned or humiliated by the "compliment" of catcalls.“‘Scuse me, sweetheart,” he says. I know he’s trying to hit on me, and I don’t want to talk to a man I don’t know. I continue walking, he continues calling at me.“Excuse me, lovely…excuse me, sweetheart…hello?…hello?…hello?” I continued to ignore him and walk. Though it was daylight out still, the street felt isolated to me, and I just didn’t want to respond to him. He gave me a funny vibe.He then starts calling me names.
“Yo, Bumpyface!” he says. “Bumpyface. You got acne. You’re a bumpyface. You’re ugly.”
I know I don’t have the best skin in the world, and I am very touchy about it. His comments were so cruel. I don’t get how I was so “lovely” that he wanted to talk to me one minute, to being an “ugly bumpyface.” I pulled out my phone to snap his photo to submit to your site. At the time, he (and his friend who was in the vehicle) were laughing and thought it was funny.
“That’s why I didn’t respond to you in the first place,” I snapped. “Men like you have no respect for women. I don’t know you, and don’t want to talk to strange men.”
I spoke in a calm manner, I didn’t curse, so I don’t know why the hell he went from 0 to 60.
He got in my face, started thumping his chest, and approached me as if I were someone his own size.
“What you say to me? What you say? Huh, huh? Say it again, bitch, say it again! Fuck you bitch! Take my picture, bitch! That’s right, bitch!”
I started walking away, and he followed me.
“Fuck you, bitch! I HATE BLACK WOMEN!” he ranted. “I’m tired of black women! Black women ain’t shit! Black women are ugly! I don’t give a damn about BLACK WOMEN! Stupid bitch!”
Being married, or partnered as I am, is a huge privilege in this society. Because I’m in a stable long-term relationship, a number of my woes are significantly eased. Renters are more likely to rent to me and my boyfriend than me alone. Once I’ve got a place, I’m able to offset costs such as rent, food, kitty expenses and birth control. Having a man in my home also makes me feel safer. When I invite men to my home, I know I can trust that they won't make unwanted advances and will respect my relationship with J. (I'm still scared of axe murderers though - but only when he's out of town).
Cis and hetero privilege is a major factor in solidifying this privilege. If I were with another cis woman, or if if she or I were trans, much of this privilege is mitigated or done away with altogether.* I would be harassed more instead of less, and would be more vulnerable to violence rather than less. My relationships are free of mockery and derision; they're not seen as sick or wrong. I don't feel any pressure to hide my love. Even though I'm in a non-marital cohabiting relationship, I'm not seen as outside of the norm: both mine and J's grandmas were pleased to hear that we made a more serious commitment by moving in.
Ditto for monogamous privilege. Because I only want to be with one person, I know that that choice will be constantly validated and rewarded rather than constantly questioned or seen as fake. I won't be seen as a sex maniac no matter how much I fuck. The success rather than demise of my relationship is assumed. Were my relationship to end, I would receive tons of sympathy from my friends; if I were polyamorous, I would be seen as deserving of that pain. And I don't need to hide many facets of my relationship, no matter how complex.
When we decide to make our connection permanent, we will be able to do so legally and know that our choice will be openly valued and praised by all. When we have children, our ties to them or the quality of our parenting will not be challenged. We won't be seen as a threat to our children, even if we were to abuse them.
White privilege is also a factor here. It further establishes that we are an "all-American" couple. People are able to project their best ideas of morality and love onto us, and see our relationship as more valid and successful because of the color of our skin.
But even with the above privilege, I still do not operate with total safety and comfort. In public, I habitually avoid eye contact with most men - I've found that eye contact is often taken as an invitation, and often brings on unwanted propositions. And occasionally a man will touch me without my consent.
On Saturday, I was younger than a lot of the crowd (and thus better fit into culturally imposed standards of beauty) and more actively feminized (long hair, significant makeup, contacts, short skirt). And I was subject to a lot of discomforting leers, and I didn't feel safe making eye contact with people around me, instead staring straight ahead when I walked to the bar or the bathroom. And one man did decide that he had the right to touch my waist to get my attention. But despite the discomfort I felt at the leers and the touched, I never felt unsafe. I always knew the touches at least would desist when J returned from the bar (or wherever). I didn't fear being alone temporarily, because I knew he was behind me.
UPDATE - Stephanie of The (not so) Little Things responds here.
*Language changed here - h/t to voz.