Headphones Save Lives
In my opinion, one of the most dangerous things that a woman could ever do is leave home without her headphones. You may think I’m kidding, but I’m serious. Headphones, especially a good pair, save lives. Before I walk out of the door each morning for my commute to work, I make sure that I have my headphones with me. I would rather leave my cell phone at home than leave my headphones, and there are times where I’ll be a few minutes late to work because I took too much time to trying to find them between the seat cushions of my couch. Headphones are a form of self care, which is why I have this post under “Love God Herself.”
We live in a world where street harassment is real and out of control. As a younger girl, I thought that if I was in my ratty pajamas or sweaty gym clothes men would leave me alone. As I grew older and my breasts and butt started to develop, I realized that it didn’t matter what I wore. Men would attempt to talk to me. They would comment on my body, my clothes, the way I walk or even my hair. They would tell me to smile and ask me why I looked so mad. Did I have a boyfriend? It wasn’t any of their business whether I did or did not, but I used to feel compelled to answer. I would try to brush them off, not knowing that by doing so, I was only inviting more conversation. I would smile in hopes that they would leave me alone, but it only encouraged them. Sometimes, I avoided certain streets because I just knew that it wasn’t going to be a peaceful journey for me.
When I reached graduate school, I realized that I didn’t owe these people anything. I didn’t have to dignify their cat calls with a response. However, I felt like I just couldn’t let them get away with it. I had to say something to these assholes. I had to call them out on their bullshit and let them know what a pervert they really were. I would respond to comments on my body with things like “what are you looking at, asshole?” And when they would stare at my face for too long as I walked down the street I would ask, “Can I help you? Because you’re staring at me like I know you or something.” If they asked me to smile I would say, “I don’t fucking feel like it,” and when they would comment on my legs or butt I would say, “Fuck off.” Of course, this made them angry. There’s nothing in the world that a street harasser hates more than a woman who isn’t here for his bullshit. Ugly words such as “bitch” or “whore” would get thrown my way, and I would automatically retaliate with my personal favorite response of, “your mother.” God, that would just really rile them up.
One time, I was on the phone with my mom and a guy made a comment about how my dress looked across my chest. Before I could stop myself, I screamed “SCREW YOU.” My mom was appalled and told me that the man was paying me a compliment and I should just say thank you. The women of her generation accepted those comments without batting an eyelash, and the women of my generation have chosen to do the opposite. We’ll pull out the big guns and start let the verbal choppa’ fly as soon as a man even opens his mouth to tell us to smile. I know what you’re thinking. “Girl, you’re living dangerously.” I know. I’ve realized that by responding to these men, especially in such a negative way, I’m placing my own life in danger. Yes, I should have the right to speak up and defend myself against street harassment and cat calling, but that’s not how the real world works. Men who engage in street harassment often have big egos and low self-esteem, which make for a very volatile combo. Frequent photos cross my TL of women who have been beaten, raped, or humiliated just because she dared to tell a man, “NO." It’s already not a safe world for me, as a black woman, and I need to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to protect myself as I walk on the streets.
Therefore, I’ve invested in a good pair of headphones, and I don’t leave home without them. I can’t hear the negative things that fly out of harassers’ mouths if Cardi B is rapping about how she likes it like that. I can’t hear the comments on my body if I’m too busy rapping with Missy about how I can’t stand the rain. There’s no need to cuss a man out or comment on his mother if I’m getting my life to all of Yebba’s incredible runs in “Evergreen.” It does not matter if I'm going to work, to the grocery store, or the bar for Happy Hour; I’m wearing my headphones. It may not seem like an ordinary form of self-care, but to me it is. It’s one of the highest forms of self-love, and it’s one that I’ll be engaging in on a daily basis for the unforeseeable future. Headphones over humans, ya’ll.