I have never really been a comics person or a superhero person, but I’m finally fed up enough, and have lived in Boston long enough to know that this is a real problem, not just me having trouble transitioning, to decide that Greater Boston desperately needs the appearance of this superheroine: Ball-Buster Girl.
Her origin story: So. (Beowulf begins that way, guys, at least according to Seamus Heaney). Pretty normal and average twentysomething girl is leaving the Copley branch of the Boston Public Library. She kind of hates Copley because it’s confusing, its librarians are almost all incredibly rude and unhelpful, and the pretty part of the building is actually no longer the real library, and the part with the more current resources is actually a spectacularly ugly edifice. But still, since it’s the first public library in America and all, she wants to support it, and also, hello, how can you not use your library at least sometimes? People gotta read. Anyway, she’s wearing, like, normal clothes that you wear when you’re in your twenties and don’t have to be working on that particular weekday, because either you’re in graduate school or you’re a product of the economy and only work part time, or you’re independently wealthy, or you’re living off an inheritance, or you just can’t find work. Whatever. She looks put together and nice, not like she’s trying too hard, not slutty, not uptight, just clothes, folks.
So she’s leaving the library and walking towards Copley Square, which means she’s walking by the benches that line the periphery of the library like a wraparound porch, when she hears a wolf whistle (face it–in real life the fewest of even the crappiest people do this, but it makes for a better comic convention than kissy sounds, which is what she would be more likely to hear). She whirls around to look for the source of the noise and finds that it’s some rando sitting on the bench with another guy, and when she turns around to look at her, he gives her a smile like he knows she’s so pleased to find out that he finds her attractive enough to warrant such a whistle. He whispers to the friend next to him in a language not widely spoken in girl’s country, but that she happens to understand enough of to know that he’s talking about how great it must be to fuck her.
“What’s your problem?” girl says.
“Who, me?” says rando.
“What makes you think you can do that to me?” she demands.
People nearby start looking over, but our girl is not deterred from her mission.
“Whaddaya mean?” (Remember, this is a comic book.)
“Why did you whistle at me?”
“Girl, I’m calling you pretty. Can’t you take a compliment? You look good, and I’m appreciating.”
“Did I ask you to call me pretty?”
“Do I need your permission?”
“What makes you think I feel good when a stranger starts talking about my body to his friend like I’m not a real person? Do you think I only exist to make your day a little brighter? That I should thank you for desiring me?”
“Girl, you don’t want people to look at you, you better not dress like that.”
Our heroine looks down at her outfit. And seriously, she’s wearing, like, what PEOPLE wear. Jeans, probably. Or a skirt. Maybe even shorts. With, like, a shirt that fits properly. You can see the shape of her body in her clothes, but outside of a potato sack, everybody’s body shape is shown through clothes. That’s how clothing works. If it fits you, by definition, it shows your body shape.
She says, in a challenging tone, hands on her hips, “Like what?”
“Like you want it.”
Whatever that means. Girl is getting seriously pissed off now, but she’s not going to walk off now and let this guy and the growing audience of strangers around them have the last word. She marches right up to him so that she’s standing over him (he’s still sitting, because he sees no reason to stand–some little girl, no matter how mad she gets, is not a threat, and her aggression isn’t real, it’s cute).
“I don’t want anything but for you to leave me the fuck alone. I’m wearing perfectly acceptable clothes, and whether I were wearing a bikini, a burqa, or nothing at all, you would be saying the same thing. It is neither your right nor your responsibility to tell me that my walking down the street, going about my business, somehow disrupts your day or makes you unable to control yourself. My body is mine, not yours, and you don’t get to talk about it like it’s here for your enjoyment. I’m a person, you asshole, not your object.” And with that, she’s about to stalk off when he stands.
She really wants to kick him in the balls, but when he stands, he’s also rather big, and it’s there that she’s reminded that men like him do things like that to her because they really do have a physical advantage over most women and apparently they like to remind women of that not just by catcalling but also by physically threatening them.
Before she can do anything consciously, though, a feeling of immense power comes over her, and it’s like a second self is moving and kneeing the guy in the crotch. Though she’s sure she’s not actually doing anything, all of a sudden the guy cries out in pain. She just busted his balls.
So then she goes on her merry way and learns that her superpower is to get so angry with men who sexually harass people on the street that her anger manifests as the feeling of being kicked in the balls, and after one encounter with Ball-Buster Girl, any man who attempts to harass a woman not only feels like he’s getting kicked, but he also hears her entire lecture on why it’s fucking unacceptable to catcall women over and over again in his head. And our girl gets into it and starts teaching self-defense classes with Wonder Woman and teaching other girls how to stop street harassment before it turns into assault with their minds (I mean intellect, not with mind superpowers. Only Ball-Buster Girl has that power, unfortunately).
I seriously want to be this girl, because the occasional catcalling annoyances I experienced in Tucson are nothing compared to the at least twice weekly experiences I have in Boston, in multiple languages, from cars, delivery trucks, benches, and on and on, from men of all colors, no matter what the fuck I’m wearing. Seriously, I pretty much hate everyone in Boston with a penis. Catcalling is not a compliment, it’s harassment.