Open Letter to Shoshana Roberts

Dear Shoshana,

Trust me, street harassment ends. I've been walking around New York for decades, often wearing black pants and a black t-shirt very much like what you had on for your 10-hour experiment. While I didn't get as much attention as you did, I had plenty of offers that invariably included the word "pussy." I was of particular interest to hardhats, but eventually came a time when I walked by a construction site and the only sounds I heard were being made by machines.

Though relieved, I found it puzzling. "Don't any of you want to do anything to me?" I called out to the workers. They looked over and then returned to what they'd been doing. "What about dinner? A movie?" I shouted. "It's me!" Nothing. "Should I come back with some Cialis?"

They looked pretty much the same as they did when they were seductive with me. What was different? Was it the shoes I now wear? The ones I'd gotten at Eneslow that require a prescription and are wide enough to accommodate orthotics? Was it the two inches I've lost in height that have found their way to my waistline? Or was it my shopping cart filled with bags from Fairway?

It's not that I don't get approached on the street. But the opening line is:

-Will you sign a petition against fracking?
-Do you have a minute for Greenpeace?
-Would you like a sample of yogurt?
-Can you spare some change for a veteran?

Just a few days ago, I was stopped by a young woman standing in front of a store that sells skin care products, who insisted I come in and let her massage two creams into the areas below my eyes, talking to me about anti-oxidants and free radicals, promising I could improve my appearance by spending $400. I didn't bite, afraid I might return to looking the way I did when I couldn't go around the city without being noticed.

I'm sympathetic, Shoshana. I, too, resented being accosted by men who give themselves permission to be aggressive, but it won't always be this way. The only man who started up with me on the street this year wanted to sell me a lulav and etrog.