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First off, may I say that I am 15 years old, and I have been harassed on the street since I was 12 years old! My most memorable experiences:
I was 12 and walking back from a Neighbourhood festival with a friend of mine and this beat up pickup truck drove by; some 40-something year old guy with a cowboy hat honked, and leaned out the window to shout some obscene remark to us and took off.
Two summers ago (age 14), I had finished up a play at the local high school, and a friend and I were walking to a Culvers a few blocks over. It was about 10:30pm and we had one block of a dark, deserted street. This Honda Pilot drove down the street, and we saw the driver look out his window, slow down, and deliberately whistle at us. He then drove to the end of the street, made a U-turn, and drive even more slowly past us AGAIN, and whistled once more. Luckily the director of the play pulled up next to us and asked if we wanted a ride, so we didn’t have to risk him passing us again.
This past summer (age 15), I was at a metro bus transfer point and was waiting for my mother to pick me up, and some guy started to walk towards me. The alarms went off in my head, so I grabbed my bag and walked to the Walgreens across the street. Lo and behold – he followed! I tried to trip him up by weaving randomly through several aisles, but he still followed. I finally ducked into the bathroom for about 10 minutes and waited till he left. He never said anything, but that was the creepiest part!
About two months ago (still 15) I was taking a bus out to my theater (I’m in a youth Shakespeare group) with a friend to watch a rehearsal because we had school off, and this guy was on the bus. At first he overheard us talking about the theater and asked some polite questions, but then he started asking our names and where we went to school, and it felt too personal. I shortly afterwards became homeschooled, and take a bus out to the school each day for a chemistry class. I saw him again frequently, and he would always smile and stare at me, and stand or sit in a way so as to always have a clear view. One time, in a nearly empty bus, he sat down right in front of me, then turned his entire torso around to face me, and smiled at me while staring at my chest. It wasn’t a glance, either – this stare was for several minutes! He never said anything, and didn’t touch, but his very presence and the way he was blatantly staring just made me feel violated. I finally told him “Okay, stop.” And got up to get off the bus (thankfully my stop wasn’t to far after he got on. I haven’t seen him since, but the experience always sticks with me as my creepiest.
A very recent one (this past Friday), I was on State Street with my dad and sister to see a movie as part of the Wisconsin Film Festival. It was about 9 at night, and we had stopped in a little market to buy my sister something to eat, and I stood near the door looking at magazines. As I was flipping through one, I heard something along the lines of “come here, sexy!”, I look up and there are some college age guys passing the door and staring at me. When they saw that I heard them, another leers at me and calls out “HHEEEEYYOOO” and they leave. It was unnerving – even if they couldn’t see my dad – that this would happen when I was with family, and even more that my dad didn’t hear it.
Other less creepy ones, but still unnerving nonetheless was when actors of my theater gather to perform scenes on Capital Square (during the Farmer’s Market) in order to advertise the Theater, there have been several instances when an elderly man would walk up and give me money – to “support the arts” they say – while leering at my chest. Some old sweaty man was staring a friend and my chests while trying to find out our schools and where we live. We brushed him off.
Also, once, when I was still in school, I was walking to my health class, and there were two classmates of mine and some random other friend of theres sitting on the floor in the hallway. I was wearing a dress that day, and the random guy leaned forward, then looked at my face and asked my name. I realized he had looked up my skirt (sucks for him – I wear shorts under all dresses or skirts).
One time I was at the mall and I went to a store in the food court to buy some water. I didn’t have the right amount of money with the tax added in (about 50 cents short), so I was trying to say “nevermind” and go somewhere else, when the guy insisted to chip in for me and wished me “a nice day, gorgeous” as I left. Slightly flattering if by someone my age who I knew, but out-of-line in the circumstance.
Last one: When I was still in public school, I was walking back to class from the bathroom, and there was this kid (freshman) standing in the hall with a friend of his. As I passed, he said “hey” and I responded accordingly. He then proceeded to plant himself in my path, forcing me to stop, and asked me how I was. I shortly replied that I was fine, annoyed by then. Not getting the message, he then decided to inform me that “I like how you mooove” in a ridiculous voice, making it clear he had been watching my ass as I had was walking by him. I gave him a dirty look and went around him, and that was the end of it.
I don’t get where men have decided that now, today, in the 21st Century, women are to be treated as pieces of meat solely there for the male viewing pleasure, and that we don’t care when we are catcalled, whistled, followed, “complimented” and in any other way violated. It’s awful that it’s become so ingrained in society that when I confided in a friend, she told me to “flip him off, laugh and let it be. It happens”. It happens BECAUSE we let it be! Unfortunately none of my incidents had been easy to report – or reportable at all, in the eyes of the cops – or had happened to quickly for me to actually berate, so they’ve gone without punishment.
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