I was walking down State Street yesterday during the afternoon and was happy to not be on the receiving end of the “can I holla at you” line. Unfortunately however, another girl was subject to the attention from three different guys in less than one block. It had me wondering, what is the proper answer to, “can I holla at you?” If you say no, as I sometimes do, they call you a bitch. If you keep walking and ignore them, they call you a bitch or go on about how you’re rude. But I’ve genuinely never seen a girl actually respond yes to what I consider a silly question.
I wonder if these guys understand the likelihood of their failure in asking, but still play the game for the 1 in 10 chance the girl will respond positively. That is how I see it: a game played by young men who seem to still be on the fence between immaturity and being able to properly talk to a girl.
I’ve noticed this game played mostly by young minorities with the prey being any type of girl – white, black, Hispanic, “thick”, thin, you name it. I personally feel embarrassed for these young men in watching them whisper to or shout at young females. I feel embarrassed because I think it gives our young men a bad name in society as: predators, hyper-sexual, unrestrained and inappropriate. I do recognize that not all young, black men play this game, but as stereotypes go, it doesn’t require the entire group to act this way to get associated with these negative images.
Historically, African-Americans were considered to be overly sexual and savage-like in their sexual and social impulses. To whites, we were unpredictable, difficult to control and a threat to the white population. There have been a number of studies to prove and disprove these traits. Some studies find that African-American repression causes our people to act out in a more uncontrolled way. This is no new news to African Americans as we’ve heard ideas like this since the beginning of slavery in this country – our oppression leads us to have lots of sex, dance promiscuously and play music that is “unrefined”.
From the perspective of a female who falls prey to this game, I am usually not flattered. It leaves me to wonder if they believe I am a girl who could be picked up off the street. I also often feel in danger if the boy does not catch the hint and continues to follow and harass me. Not only that, but when I see it happen to other females I do not know, I feel helpless and too weak to stick up for them and tell the young men to cut it out. Even yesterday on the street when I saw the young woman harassed 3 times in one block I felt so bad for her but also didn’t feel like there was anything I could do that wouldn’t end in more trouble.
So what is the solution to this game that keeps females feeling sometimes unsafe and embarrassed and that almost never results in a win? If this were a betting game or something, I would say pull out, your chances are too low and the risk is too high. But, these young men don’t seem to think of it that way. To them, it is nothing but a fun game to impress their friends with and hopefully will end up with a win – the attention or the number of the girl. I don’t know of a solution yet but would hope to hear of some ideas to help stop this game being played all around the city.