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Last year, I was completing my year of study in Japan. My american friend Laura and I were in Tokyo for a week. She and her family (her father being Japanese) had come and invited me up to Tokyo to stay with them in the hotel so we could bond and I could act as their translator. One day, her parents decided that they were going to go to a temple and told us we would be left on our own. Now, the part of Tokyo we were in was near Roppongi, which is… a very shady part of the town (we didn`t find out how shady till too late), the hotel was a block away from the Russian Embassy.
We hung around the hotel for a while until we decided we would go out to eat. We were NOT dressed slutty in ANYWAY. I am a Muslim so I always wear my head shawl and a dozen layers of clothing. Not to mention it was wet and rainy so we had heavy jackets on. As we walked down the street we talked and tried to figure out what we were going to eat. As we passed by a McDonalds I heard someone say “Hi!”. I hadn`t heard English spoken in such a long time that I stopped, turned and looked at two men who were grinning at me and Laura. Laura and I exchanged a look, we had never seen either of these two men before, so we continued walking.
Then we heard “Hey! Wait up!” and the two men came out of the McDonalds after us. Instantly we panicked and took off running. The men FOLLOWED US. Laura, the faster runner, made it into the department store a block down while I was grabbed by the short One. The tall One went into the department store after Laura and dragged her back out. They started asking us questions, wanting to know if we would come with them to their apartment. They asked us if we would get in a car with them. They asked us if we wanted to “have some fun” with them. Now, mind you, Laura and I are 18 years old, in a foreign country, being forcibly held by two guys and no one is doing a thing to help us.
We try to get away but they just hold tighter onto us. The short guy was holding so tight onto my arm that it left a bruise. They kept feeling us up and asking us crude questions. We kept telling them that we had to leave and that we were going to go get something to eat. So they took us into a subway and bought us sandwhiches. They then managed to sit us against the wall so we couldn`t dash out.
They then literally made us eat the sandwiches, saying it was cute to watch us eat. It turned my stomach, especially as the short guy started to touch my thigh. After what was an eternity, a friend of theirs` walked in and they stood up to talk to them. I think they were high or something because their eyes were blood shot and the tall One was twitching alot.
Anyways, Laura and I then took the opportunity to escape, we ran out of there, literally knocking a few chairs over in our escape. Once out of the store we ran all the way back to the Russian Embassy to the safety of the security guards (who WERE armed, yay!). They watched out for the two men as we caught our breath, we then hurried back to our hotel where we asked the Manager to call the police. We filled out a police report and spent the last day of our trip in Tokyo hidden in the hotel room because we were too afraid to leave.
I have never felt so scared and threatened before in my life. I wanted nothing more than to escape from those two. If their friend hadn`t come in when she did I don`t know what would have happened to us.
Tonight I was walking home with a friend from a wonderful dinner/girls’ night out in D.C. Normally she would have just taken a cab and I would have walked home, since the restaurant was in my neighborhood.
But she was concerned about my safety (which I thought was silly, because that’s how I am) and we were engrossed in a good conversation. A few blocks from the restaurant, a completely trashed guy came up behind us and started walking along side us/just behind us, speaking loudly. “So, where you ladies been? Was it nice? Where you off to next?” I ignored him and kept walking, while my friend gave very abrupt, short answers.
Eventually, when it appeared he wasn’t going to back off, I stopped with my friend and told the guy to go on. He turned around and muttered something about us “being like that” and moved along. The entire thing was so jarring, a firm reminder of how vulnerable we were on that street. I couldn’t help but feel at once relieved that he hadn’t been more agressive and threatened by the idea that I could have been alone. I couldn’t help but wonder how that might have altered his behavior and I felt like a complete moron for thinking previously that I could walk home alone–clearly a luxurious privilege to which I am not entitled as a woman.
While I’m fairly sure he was just a drunk asshole and that either way it would have been fine, the entire thing was a reminder of how free men feel to violate women’s personal space and to continue doing so, even when it is very clear that they’re uncomfortable and not at all interested in pursuing the conversation.
It also pissed me off. I’m a grown woman. I shouldn’t have to feel stupid for considering walking home alone for five blocks in my own neighborhood. I also shouldn’t have to feel that I need to take a cab everywhere in the city not because I’m too lazy to walk, but because I’m afraid of the insensitive and unpredictable predators that I might find along the way.
When I got home, I found this blog by accident through Blogger’s Blogs of Note. I’m just sad it didn’t occur to me to take a picture, but next time, I’ll certainly try. This is a wonderful idea and means to give voice to the small disturbances and demeaning experiences women face all the time, and pretty much accept as part of their daily lives.
Dude, if you’re out there and reading this, you should be ashamed of yourself. I’m ashamed for you.
The first real incidence was when I was 12 or so, kneeling down looking at books in a bookstore. There was a man in sweats reading a book at the same section. I get totally absorbed when I read but he kept moving closer and closer. Next thing I know hes about 2 feet away and has a giant boner sticking out of his sweatpants. I quickly got up and went to a different part of the store (It disturbs me to this day that I didn’t do anything, perhaps because that man has or is molesting a child, and I could have done something to prevent that. I would like nothing better then to go back in time and change my reaction).
The second time it happened I was interning in DC. A man sat down next to me in the metro and proceeded to start asking me all sorts of questions. Did I like to party? What kind of partying? Do I like to have sex? How much do I like to have sex? The metro was extremely crowded and I was afraid of making a scene. I would have made a scene had it happened to me now. Then he started to try and touch my breasts. I jumped up and got the hell out of there. While I probably was in no actual danger, I felt disgusting and shaken.
The third time was a few weeks later when I was in London. My friends and I were in a large group because the premiere of The Last Samurai was in town and we were trying to get a glimpse of tom cruise. There were so many people and we were all crushed up against one another. All of a sudden, I realize that there is someone behind me trying to grab my breasts again, with one hand on my ass. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even tell which person it was, but I freaked out and got out of there quick.
These three accounts don’t even begin to describe all the catcalls and obnoxious words I have heard on the street while just minding my own business, trying to get to or from work up and down Third Avenue. It doesn’t take into account the hundreds of times I have seen men do it to women other then myself. The above stories were simply the most terrifying and disgusting.
I kept running away. Well, I am sick and tired of running away. Hollaback NYC has given me back what was brutally taken from me, and that is my respect and my power. It sickens me to think that these men think they have a right to demean a woman like that. What sickens me more is that I let them up until now. Who teaches them that such a thing is an acceptable way to treat an other human? It is just another example of how, in this world, women very often are not considered human. I have my camera ready to show them next time that not only am I human, but one who is able to Hollaback. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, and I am not giving mine any longer by being a passive observer of abuse.
Submitted by Katie