Last night some friends and I went to a party in Canada Water. Afterwards we got a taxi back to Tooting, and decided to go to the 24-hour Londis to get some frozen pizzas, rather than head to the late-night kebab shop where there’s usually trouble at that time of night. Mistake.
As Himself and I stood at the counter, the door slammed open and in stumbled a bloke not much taller than me, but very muscular, carrying a kebab and clearly drunk out of his tree. Because of the noise he’d made smashing into the shop I looked over and caught his eye. He then squared up to me and spat: “Yeah, I’m black. Problem?”
I said no, and that I was looking at him because he’d nearly taken the door off the hinges as he’d thundered in.
“Well,” he replied. “Unless you’re going to suck my dick or bend over for me, don’t fucking look at me.”
I weighed up the pros and cons of pursuing this, and concluded that I was too tired to deal with him. Plus I had friends with me, and had had a good night, so I just ignored him. Until he started throwing bits of his kebab at the back of my head.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” I said as I walked out. And he followed, still throwing chips and pieces of meat at me.
“I know who I am! And I’m black, you little white cunt,” he spat in my face. “Do you wanna suck it? You’d like that, eh?”
At this point he was inches away from my face, spitting rancid kebab over me as he carried on with his tirade. “Yeah I’ll spit on you if I want,” he laughed. “And what are you going to do about it? Call the police, white girl? You’d love that, wouldn’t you? Go on. Call them. They won’t do anything.”
At this point, a big group of people had assembled around us. Mainly his friends, I assume, since they were laughing, egging him on, and one of them was filming the whole thing on his phone. “I will fuck you up,” he shouted, before someone grabbed his arms.
And then came the tedious and age-old “Leave it Rachel, it’s not worth it”.
But this is the problem. It absolutely is worth it. Last year I witnessed (and was forced to deal with) a hideous teenager threaten a terrified woman on the Tube. Only a few months ago I got into an argument with a woman who made loud and disgusting racist comments against an Eastern European woman in a shop packed full of kids.
How can there exist a culture whereby a group of men can surround a girl and make disgusting, derogatory and threatening comments, and yet she is the one told by the surrounding population to “just leave it” in the knowledge that actually yes, the police probably wouldn’t do anything? Because people are cowardly and do “just leave it”, when actually they should get in the face of the offending scum and stick up for themselves. If I hadn’t adhered to the bleats of my companions – one of which whom actually apologised to this asshole in an attempt to defuse the situation – I would have stood there in the hopes that he actually had tried to “fuck me up”, because then I could have legitimately kicked his head in – or at least tried to, which would have made me feel a Hell of a lot better. Instead, I went home shaken, furious and upset. He went home with an inflated ego and the admiration of his peers.
This is not even an issue of race. That the guy was black never even crossed my mind until he started ranting and raving about it. This is an issue of entitlement and a skewed ‘political correctness’ that gives scum – from all demographics – an upper hand, and renders the social existence of regular people, who are just trying to buy a damn pizza on a Friday night, completely invalid. Because these people do “just leave it”, because they don’t want to get involved, or are afraid, or can’t be bothered. And so it just goes on and on.
Rachel England is bloody funny. She writes an absolutely super blog (where this post first appeared), which you must go and read immediately. You may in fact lose several hours of your life to it. Rachel is a freelance journalist and editor, an occasional runner and a highly amusing person to meet IRL. I am fairly certain most of the attendees of March’s AWOT are in love with her. You can also find her on Twitter.
This week is International Anti-street Harassment Week. You can read more about it here. If you’d like to share a story, email me (Ashley) or register and post your blog. Alternatively, if you have an anonymous story to share, email email@example.com or DM@AWOT_UK for the login details to the anon account.