A man came over to me while my car was at the traffic lights opposite McDonalds Restaurant, across from Lotemau Centre, in the heart of Apia and said: “Sis, fia ai a i lau mea. O le a le kaimi e ke magava ai.” I do not know this man, I have never seen him before in my life, but at 3pm in the afternoon sun in the middle of the street he had the audacity to approach me in my vehicle and offer to eat my privates.
Today, I wish I did not speak Samoan, so I would not have understood what he was proposing, so that I could be comforted in my ignorance that I was not just verbally violated in the privacy of my vehicle, so I can just presume he is just another street random, so that I can give him the benefit of the doubt, so that I am not assaulted on my way to buy my daughter her school uniform.
I recently took part in Samoan language week celebrated in New Zealand, because I am a fiercely proud Samoan woman. I love my culture and my language, but today, I wanted nothing to do with it, because when a man comes over to you harasses you in such a way, it strips you bare of such of your mamalu and makes you question all the other values you expect from Samoan men.
I remember seeing a Youtube video some months back that featured a woman walking through New York City (Photo attached) and men calling out compliments to her, they called it “sexual harassment” but all I saw and could hear were considerate and wonderful comments from men she passed by.
Now if you taped a camera on any Samoan woman and left it there for a month, then you would truly know what “sexual harassment is.” It comes in the form of a brush of the arm on the breast, a truly lewd comment and an offer of a unwelcome sexual favour on a weekly basis, not to mention extremely rude and inappropriate remarks about her body.
Today, I wish I did not speak Samoan. Today I wish I had a tazer on me. Today I wish my daughter did not outgrow her small uniform so she would never get closer to experiencing what I experienced today and many times before, but today, it hurt more, because I thought we had gone beyond this.
Why, I might add is your sister the apple of your eye, yet the woman on the street is fair game? Why is it you are the protector of your sister but you can beat your wife senseless? Why, is your sister the feagaiga and all other women are sexual objects that you can treat like dirt?
I reiterate my point to you before I rolled up my window and almost crushed your filthy fingers you scum: “Alu e kui lou kefe.” Over and out 🙂 (Tulou le gagana)