Dominique Morisseau on Harassment: 'Soon There Will Be No Men Left to Pick Off'
December 1st, 2017, 7:40 PM
A well-known Cass Tech High graduate living in Brooklyn shares personal reflections Friday night on Facebook about a topic in the news nearly every day lately. It's presented as dramatically and insightfully as you'd expect from the award-winner who created "Skeleton Crew," "Pipeline," "Detroit '67" and other plays.
By Dominique Morisseau
Harassment with charm -- I’m wondering if this is a thing. And if every behavior is treated equally.
This is the part where I might say something unpopular or f'ked up. But roll with it, or don’t.
I was walking down the street in my beloved Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. It looked empty enough. Early morns on Saturdays in BK are very chill. I was running to the bus. Windy day. Had on a skirt.
And the wind, when it’s feeling particularly slick, likes to blow a little crazier when a gal is wearing a skirt. The wind is a sneaky mother sucker.
So up my skirt goes as the bus I’m catching flows by. I do the Marilyn Monroe/Carrie from "Sex in the City" thing and grab my blowing skirt to stop it from revealing all of my good goods to this empty Brooklyn block.
Or so I thought it was empty.
From way up the street, I hear an elder brother or two yell out: "Let the wind blow, baby, let it blow!"
I look and damn near what felt like an avenue away are some old dudes carrying their crates and cardboard, on their way to play checkers.
They are usually out there on the corner when I’m catching the bus. They’ve been my cheer team many times as I haul ass to stop the bus from leaving me. They’ve sacrificed themselves and their checkers game to get up and stop the bus for me. I’ve thanked them many a time.
So when I hear "Let the wind blow baby, let it blow," I laugh. 'Cuz it was funny to me. 'Cuz the timing was impeccable.
Only can some old dudes from way up the block, probably struggling with cataracts and gout and the hell knows what else, see clear as day when a girl’s undies are about to be exposed. It was like they had a secret covenant with the wind.
'They feel like family'
And that was comedic timing like no other. I smiled to myself and it became reason X-million why I love Brooklyn.
And so here goes that complex isht. Is it harassment? Yeah, absolutely. The next girl over might have been mortified. I wasn’t. I knew the wind does that shit. I had a sense of humor about it. But not everyone has to find that funny.
I've also felt a familiarity with these men. Or men like them. They are uncles and cousins to me. They feel like family. And do the men in my family have some ol' dirty man harasser in them? Absolutely. And do I love them like crazy? Absolutely.
So the lines get funny. We are talking about a million different borders and lines.
But the root is that essentially, there are all of these social permissions that have been granted to men about who owns these streets. Who owns these industries. Who owns this culture.
And so, when we do the witch hunt and pick 'em off one by one (and it is sometimes necessary), maybe we are doing a disservice to the larger critique. Because we are getting mad at people for doing something they've always had social permission to do.
And maybe we need to check the whole social rules thing and figure out how to address that.
'We are all in the orbit'
Because soon there will be no men left to pick off. This is uncles and cousins and granddaddies and mentors and teachers and bosses.
I think the bosses thing is the one we’re all in agreement about. But the other stuff -- the culture that says these streets belong to you and you have every right to speak the truth of your loins out loud without having to worry about someone else’s comfort -- that's the shit worth critiquing.
That is what patriarchy is. It is a society governed by man’s rule.
And it doesn’t just hurt the men accused of assault and harassment. It hurts their daughters, sisters, nieces, mentees, students, friends.
We are all in the orbit of harassment. It's affecting our jobs, our families, our livelihoods.
And it doesn’t mean we want to stifle flirtation in the world. It doesn’t mean stop spitting game at a woman. It maybe means to tighten up your game.
Spit some better game. At a better time of day. In a better location. 'Cuz that base harassment, that reducing women to some lame anatomy references, or just completely oblivious to whether she is open for your energy that day -- that shit is for the birds.
Or at least conspire with the wind to make your game laughable.
'Cuz otherwise it just ain’t funny.