On Being Harassed

Daisy Valera

Cuban women face routine harrassment on the streets.

Last month I had a little more free time than usual.

It wasn’t that I wanted it, but it was do to the impossibility of speeding up the paperwork that would allow me to begin working.

And in my case, having a lot of free time has been synonymous with having a lot of time alone – walking along the many streets of my city, catching buses and going into various establishments, alone.

Perhaps because I used to always spend my free time going out with my partner or my friends, I never felt like I do now: Harassed!

Thus going out on the street has turned into a challenge for me, one that I have to tolerate.

Apparently, fifty years since the 1959 socialist revolution and the foundation of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) have not been enough.

The attitude of many men on the island is far from being respectful; they definitively don’t look at us as their equals.

I feel that somehow, instead of shining as a woman, I more closely appear as a piece of meat.

I have to put up countless obscene allusions regarding the most varied parts of my body.

They walk beside me bothering me for more than a block and even try me to buy me with a can of beer.

On occasion the anger makes me respond by calling them harassing cavemen, others I totally ignore.

If we agree that I don’t have the body or face that these types are accustomed to seeing in magazines or on TV, and that I generally don’t wear clothes that are very colorful, nor do I ever put on makeup, then one could deduce that this experience doesn’t happen exclusively to me.

I’ve noticed that many women are also under this same type of pressure.

We are still relegated to the old role of sexual object, one which it’s possible to buy, and that the man can treat any way he so desires.

While I battle with the lustful eyes, the saliva-dripping tongues hanging out of their mouths, and the gross language from all those I consider more animals than men, I’m at a lost as to how to respond.

I understand that these harassers are victims of their historical past, that because of their ignorance they don’t know how to please a woman, but this doesn’t allow me to accept being dealt with so abusively.

I end up wanting all men who commit such acts of disrespect to be fined or tried like in some other countries.

But this isn’t going to happen.  Nor do I see any type of campaign aimed at raising awareness around this issue.  In Cuba, women have not attained the same status as men, and I haven’t seen any serious work on this problem.

But after 50 years…isn’t it about time!

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.



5 thoughts on “On Being Harassed

  • Hello,
    Yes in my country such accosting would be dealt with harshly by the law. It is unfortunate that an educated successful woman has to put up with such abuse. Especially since under the Cuban socialist system all PEOPLE are supposed to be completely equal. I feel for you, but you are taking a good step by writing to the media.

    Reply
  • Daisy Valera,
    Thanks for your post.
    I am sorry you are being harassed.
    I will pray that women in Cuba can live in peace and not be harassed.
    Sincerely,
    Robert Cowdery

    Reply
  • I also agree with your story
    i meet a very beautiful cuban women here in toronto and she is the soul reason i have written my book the book deals with what i saw in her face and her eyes that day that also told me exactly what i suspected all along and that was two and a half years ago she wore no makeup because she too looked as if she had been harrassed by the men in her country and although our meeting was one of great surprize to me it is something that in the two years since meeting her i am always wondering is this would happen to her again
    your story has not only proved my point and now in march 2011 i will be there to see this for myself
    i am told that we will meet again and when we do i can promise you that no other man will ever brother her
    again!

    Reply
  • there are in many men in the world daisy, that look at women for who they are, and not what they appear to be, as you stated. “a piece of meat!” these are the cowards of our times and there the ones who sit in bars and cause problems for others for as it was once written”they know no better way to appease the thoughts that enter their wicket minds, there are also those like myself who adore the beauty i see in all life and in the women i so choose to talk with, i have never been the vaulger type nor have most of my real friends we all work with women here in canada and it is a fact that some of those women are actually smarter then the men who work for them .but also there is the gender problem that men will always think they are more smarter than women ,and when they learn to contol and respect that thought only then will women come out on top and be treated as the equals they really are. in todays world no man has the right to harass any women reguardless on how she looks or on how she thinks .we are all supposed to have respect for each other but some men still live in the stone age and will never be led into the real realities that apply when it comes to the nature of the beast that lies in almost all men who have nothing better in life to do but be rude and ignorant

    Reply
  • How disappointing that a revolution calling itself socialist has not done a lot better in regard to the rights of women to be respected! I am glad that you are letting the world know how you feel. Maybe articles like yours will help to launch a public discussion of the reactionary nature of sexism.

    Reply

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