I can actually remember every time a person at a convention or trade show has touched me inappropriately. My first year at the Venus Fair in Berlin there was a man who shoved two of his fingers into my panty-covered vagina. It was really fast, like he was standing there one second and the next I was trying to figure out how the gusset of my underwear had ended up *in* my vulva. There was a man in Texas who rather violently squeezed my ass while we were taking a picture and then laughed at how I’d “squealed like a piglet”. Seriously. I’m kind of disappointed by how much of a stereotype he was. At AVN this year, a guy grabbed my forearm while I was walking from the elevators to Digital Playground’s booth. He let go when I punched him in the testicle area. There’s an average of three people per convention who try the more subtle approach of sliding their hand a *bit* too far down my back when I stand next to them for a photo. Every single one of them apologizes when I gently put their hand back where it belongs and ask them to remember that I am not a blow up doll.
The above paragraph is absolutely nothing, NOTHING, compared to what it’s like to be a girl or woman walking around in public in broad daylight. With dirty hair up in a ponytail or bun, no makeup, and baggy clothing on. With headphones in, sitting in a coffee shop or on the subway with your nose in a book, or talking on the phone.
Men have followed me down the street poking me in what one can only assume is an attempt to get my attention. Men have grabbed the cord to my headphones and ripped them out of my ears. Multiple times. Men have grabbed parts of my body, or my coat or purse strap. Twice, when I was transporting my Lyra (the three foot metal hoop/circus apparatus I do aerial work on) they have grabbed the hoop and refused to let go until I threatened to kick them. They’ve blocked me into corners on mostly empty subway cars, followed me for blocks and then stood outside whatever shop I duck into for absurd amounts of time. They stop their cars in the middle of the crosswalk to stare and yell things out of the window. Years ago, in Philadelphia, one man walked around my neighborhood asking people if they knew where this blue-haired white girl lived because he wanted to return her phone. Fortunately my neighbors were too smart for that trick.
They say I have a sweet ass, nice tits, a real pretty dress. They say I’m their future wife, or I’d look good with their dick in my mouth. They try (and probably succeed at times) to take pictures down my shirt. They ask if they can get my number, they ask where I live, why I’m not smiling, why my boyfriend lets me walk around by myself. Then they ask why I’m such a bitch, if my pussy is made of ice. They say that they never do this, as though I’ve somehow driven them to inappropriate behavior and deserve it. They say they’re just having fun, trying to pay me a compliment. Pretty frequently they get mean, slipping into a loud tourettes-like chant of bitch-whore-cunt-slut.
Before you try to tell me that it’s because I take my clothes off for a living, let me tell you that this started way before I was 18. Let me tell you that every single woman I know has at least one truly terrifying story of street harassment and a whole bunch of other stories that are merely insulting or annoying. Let me remind you that in a room of pornography fans, who have actually seen me with a dick in my mouth and who can buy a replica of my vagina in a can or box, I am treated with far more respect than I am walking down the street.