What do creepy old men and the NYPD have in common?

Cn: street harassment, creepy behavior, pedophilia

They’re both useless, unnecessary, and just the worst.

So the playgrounds in NYC are finally reopened. And since I had my nieces and nephews (henceforth referred to as niephlings) for the weekend, I decided to take them and my daughter to the playground.

Now this playground is also a park but the areas are clearly defined. There is a policy in place that adults are not allowed in the playground without children.

My niephlings range from ages 7-3. My daughter is 10. So mami joined us to help out. It was a warm day and the playground was not crowded so it was perfect to keep social distancing protocols. While the smaller children played on the baby slide the two oldest (my daughter TJ and niece V) ran around the playground. I noticed a man who seemed to be by himself staring at the kids, particularly the girls, and smiling. I kept my eye on him.

Eventually TJ and V went to the swings. And the man moved to the seats in front of the swings. After a little while TJ tells mami that they feel uncomfortable because the man kept staring at them and their cousin. I asked V and she also said she felt uneasy. While keeping an eye on the other kids (they were close by to be safe) I went and stood by my girls. Mami stood next to the man.

We both watched him. He kept smiling. If you’re a woman or non-man, you can trust your gut about this sort of thing. It wasn’t just a kindly old man smile. It was creepy.

Finally mami asks him what he was staring at. He says he could stare at whoever he wanted. So mami starts to tear into him. I come along and he asks me, “right? I can stare and smile all I want?”. No, I replied. Especially not at little girls. I was getting shaky and told him I would rearrange his face if he kept it up. He told me to bring it on! The audacity? It only gets worse.

So we’re yelling at each other. He keeps insisting he can stare at whoever he wants. He actually mansplained sight to us! He says the cops would prove him right. Now I’m not a fan of cops, much less the NYPD and this encounter didn’t help. The man calls 911 and the cops eventually show up.

Mami and I explained to them what happened. They went and talked to him. They were with him for about 10 minutes. They come back and say he wasn’t breaking any laws. That since the playground is also a park, they cannot move him. I mean, it’s really convenient, you know? The police sure do know when to use force and when to not. But whatever. This post isn’t about police brutality. Although we DID talk about how useless the police were to us and about the whole organization at large.

They asked him to move and he refused. He said he had a long walk so he was tired and he wasn’t going to move.

So, he has a long walk and rather than sit in the benches at the entrance he walks his ass all the way into the playground. Make it make sense. And to refuse to move when he’s been told he made people, especially children, uncomfortable is just even more audacious.

The cops told us we could stay in the park but not speak to the man or we could move to another area. So this man’s pants feels are more important than my children’s right to safety. One cop told us not to let this man ruin our fun.

We went home. Once home I called the parks department and filed a report. I explained and they told me that the man was NOT supposed to be in playground area, regardless of it also being a park. So, the cops just didn’t want to do their job? I’m shocked. /sarcasm

This is not the first time my daughter has been creeped on and I know it won’t be the last. Creepy, predatory behavior is something my daughter and my nieces will have to endure. What did this teach my nephews? That they, as men, can do and say and sit and stare and make people uncomfortable at the least, but it’s ok? My daughter and nieces are just supposed to deal with it?

This is rape culture. It’s a culture that tells women and non men we just have to take creepy behavior. It’s a culture that doesn’t respect children. It’s a culture that tells you to trust your instincts but then chastises for doing just that.

I spoke to my niephlings, especially V and my daughter and we discussed what happened and how they felt. I told them they did the right thing by saying something.

Oh and by the way, since I was so shaky, the man had the nerve to laugh and tell me not to be nervous. The audacity of this jackass, not to mention the entitlement.

I hope he has a heart attack. We have a term in Puerto Rico for creepy old men, viejo verde. And he’s definitely green as hell.

Creepy old man

What do creepy old men and the NYPD have in common?
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But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?

If you’re the member of any sort of minority, chances are you’ve run across this. Some friend, family member, or vague acquaintance ends up in a situation where they are confronted with their own inherent biases in some way, and they feel the need to run to you as the Representative of Minority Co. to explain the situation.

For example, imagine you have a friend name Betty who is the owner of a small business who is hiring someone to work as a part of that business. She has narrowed her choice down to two ideal candidates, who are identical in terms of qualifications. Both have the right amount of experience, the same great attitude and personality that fits into the team dynamic, in terms of “reasons to hire” the two are completely interchangeable. Except that Candidate A is abled while Candidate B is disabled.

Now Betty is not a Capital A Ableist. She knows that disabled people are just as capable as abled people, she truly believes that the world should be accessible, and has all the empathy for disabled people having a difficult time being able to find gainful employment. Betty has signed countless petitions to make accessibility more prevalent, her own brother even has a disability. Betty is an ALLY!

But Betty’s business is small, and even with the added help, she is hopelessly overworked. Candidate B’s disability will require the company to undergo some work to make it completely accessible. Maybe, it would even cost her some money to get some needed program or service, or to make some changes to the physical location of the business. She was already putting pressure on her budget by hiring a new person, the added finances would be just too much. She would have to close up shop, and it’s not really fair to her or to any of her other employees, or to her family, to jeopardize her business for the sake of one person. If they had been better qualified and the best option than of course, it would be no question, but the two candidates are completely identical and really it’s a coin toss one way or the other. Wouldn’t it be just as unfair to Candidate A to only not hire them because they’re not disabled? She makes her choice and then next time at dinner with her brother’s she lays the whole story out and asks:

“Can you understand where I’m coming from?” Continue reading “But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?”

But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?

Thinking about Canada Day

CN: Mentions of Genocide

On Monday July 1, we celebrated Canada Day.

In a lot of ways, this day is really an excuse to have a BBQ, drink a bunch, and go see some fireworks. While you will get people dressing up in red and white and waving flags, possibly singing the national anthem, as often as not most probably aren’t even completely sure what specific event is being commemorated.

This year however, amid all the bustle of helping prepare the home for guests, I found myself spending a lot of time thinking about what exactly it is we have been celebrating.

Continue reading “Thinking about Canada Day”

Thinking about Canada Day

I’m Tired.

If ever there was a motto for our generation, this would probably be it.

I’m so tired.

I’m tired of my news feed being one atrocity after another. Of each new headline convincing me that I’ve finally reached the peak of shock and fury I could feel, only to be proved wrong when I read the next one.  Of watching the world seemingly falling apart at the seams.

I’m tired of listening to people make excuses while the body counts grow ever higher. Of quibbling over whether a problem really even exists or whether these are just a few bad examples. Of arguing whether genocide is too severe a word, or whether these here actually count as concentration camps. As though just the fact that these words could be applied isn’t horrifying enough. As though we shouldn’t be striving to stop things before they reach this point.

I’m tired of listening to people make excuses for why this act of violence is excusable and acceptable while condemning those just trying to defend themselves and others. Continue reading “I’m Tired.”

I’m Tired.

TJ: Nazi Destroyer

TJ: Nazi Destroyer came about after Trump’s election, when TJ was 7-years-old. I had to explain to TJ why I was upset. We’ve talked about racism, white supremacy and systemic bigotry before. But this was the first time we talked about literal Nazis. She was quiet for a bit and then told me she had the solution. She would become a Nazi Destroyer.

Continue reading “TJ: Nazi Destroyer”

TJ: Nazi Destroyer

Dear Ontario: I’m Begging For my Life

Dear Ontario,

Have you ever woken up wondering how your government was going to put your life at risk today? Have you had your government propose torturing you on a regular basis as a reasonable way to save money? Have you had your government put your life at risk for daring to need to be admitted to the hospital because of a genetic condition? Have you been told that you are a burden on society and that you are too expensive to be worth keeping alive?

This has been my reality for at least the last month.

(Truth be told it’s been my reality a lot longer than that, but it’s been a lot more obvious the last year.) Continue reading “Dear Ontario: I’m Begging For my Life”

Dear Ontario: I’m Begging For my Life