I was walking home from Nob Hill to Union Square after a Halloween party. I was a small 19-year-old, just transplanted from a tiny country town, and even though I was streetsmart enough to ask friends to escort me home at 2 AM, they remarked about being very tired and wanting to go to bed. So I decided to go home anyhow, alone. Cabs were expensive so I didn’t think to take one. I had walked home from Nob Hill alone before. It was usually deathly quiet around the rich neighborhoods that late at night, which I took mistakenly as a sign that I would be safe until I got home.
I was walking up Clay street, and when I passed the Jones st intersection, I saw a 40’s-ish man in a trenchcoat standing on the sidewalk. He didn’t look hostile but he seemed slightly uncoordinated – I should have taken that as a sign and crossed to the other side of the street, or turned around, but I kept going. I figured he was just waiting for a bus.
As I got closer it was pretty apparent that he was drunk, and from his wardrobe he seemed pretty affluent, not that it makes any difference. As soon as I walked past him and he saw me, he fixated on me.
“Hey, doll, how’s it going?”
I think I mumbled “fine” and kept going. But he started walking in the same direction. He kept calling me doll and asking me questions, although he was drunk/slurring/mumbling. Although I distinctly heard him say, “You look just like my daughter, doll.” That was the last straw. I crossed the street quickly – fortune seemed to be in my favor, because I saw a cab approaching the next intersection, and furiously waved him down, and was driven home.
I was mortified and spent a few days feeling surreal and freaked out. Since then, I find it almost funny how I have never been accosted by a homeless person (not that they’re harmless either) but it’s always affluent, well-dressed, middle-aged men who are the ones who hit on me, and always in a, “you’re young enough to be my daughter and I like that” kind of way. I’m very short and young-looking (I’m 23 and I was charged 17 & under admission at the museum) and I find it disturbing that so many men that age find underage girls so appealing. Gross.
I live in a smaller town now but I never let my guard down. I have come into my own as a feminist and as a person who is aware of rape culture, and I’m glad to have found Holla.
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