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This happened when I was 13, and the memory’s stayed with me since. I was at my school camp, taking canoe lessons with the rest of the class. The canoe instructor, who was next to me, kept leering and saying things like, “You’re so pretty, what’s your name?” Being 13 and painfully shy, the only way I knew how to deal with it was ignore him.
I thought he’d just go away. Instead, he said, “Come on, I’m not going to bite you,” and grabbed my left arm and actually bit me. It wasn’t a deep bite but it was repulsive. He then proceeded to, what I now understand in retrospect, hump his canoe.
When I told my teacher about this, she brushed me off and said, “Oh, they’re just fooling around. Don’t take it so seriously.” Well, it was frightening, disgusting, and even now, 8 years later, those feelings are still with me.
People should never brush off sexual harassment just because it’s too troublesome to deal with it, or just because nothing seriously illegal was involved!
I was visiting St. Louis for an interview and caught the metro from the airport to where I was staying that night. Across the car from me was this man, who ignored my headphones being in and my lack of attention to him and started touching my foot and pulling at my shoe and leg. I pulled one earphone out to ask what he wanted, still having trouble hearing from the flight, but got the gist that he was hitting on me and then I very clearly heard him say I should take him home with me. I kept saying no and, when he asked where I was going, I said I didn’t know. Another man on the train sitting behind holla-er (and was slightly bigger than him but also a little older) told him to leave me alone and put up with a tirade for the rest of his metro ride so the guy would leave me alone (I’m pretty sure the holla-er was intoxicated in someway). The good guy kept saying okay to everything the holla-er said and avoided antagonizing him further while keeping the attention away from me. I felt terrified of the holla-er but I so, so happy that the good guy was there and that people exist who will counter harassment and protect others, even when it could be dangerous for them and easier to stay quiet.
I was driving slowly down a narrow street near Puffer’s Pond (a local summer time hang out) in Amherst, MA where I was heading to meet my boyfriend and a couple friends after I got out of work at 5pm.
As I drove slowly past all the parked cars on the road I slowed down at a curve in the road where there was a group of 3 young men standing by a car. As I approached one of them put his arm up in the air and began humping the air suggestively and
Looking right at me. I tried to ignore him and as I passed with my windows open presumably the same young man, or a friend, said very loudly “Eh she’s a tramp!”
Completely uncalled for. I do not deserve to be called a tramp simply for being a woman driving alone in a car past a group of men.
I’m 23, I’d estimate the young men were between 20 and 25.
Thanks for all that you do!
I was walking to my bus stop, after work but in broad daylight, when a car with three young men drove past. They laid on the car horn and one leaned out the window, mouth open, tongue hanging out, making growling noises. They got to the bottom of the street and turned around for another go. I gave them the finger. They drove past again anyway, honking and shouting out the windows. As I sat waiting for my bus, they went past again, waving and grinning. I was glad when the bus came and I could just disappear.
This happened a few years ago, and it still bothers me.
My cousin and I were walking down the street, sure it was dark, but not really that late. Not that it matters. We’re walking down a pretty residential street, and are literally 2 houses down from her front door. We had been out to get a bottle of wine for a big family dinner, and they all were waiting on us inside. This guy walking towards us goes right between us, bends down and grabs both of our crotches. And then just keeps on walking like nothing happened. He might have even been whistling. We were speechless, and before we walked through the front door, agreed to not say anything. Her parents would have flipped, and we just wanted to get over it. I still feel pretty violated when I think of it, and can’t believe that it even happened. What made him think it was okay to do that? How many other women has he done this to? So disgusting.
I had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Morocco for about nine months and had been putting up with all kinds of harassment: groping, cat-calls, even a stalker. Once a man asked me, in Arabic, “how much?” as I walked past him, thinking I wouldn’t understand. Everyone I talked to about it kept telling me to ignore it, but this was easier said than done.
One afternoon, while walking home from work at the youth center, I heard smooching and kissing noises waft toward me from across the street. I looked up to see a skinny punk kid, maybe 15-years-old, smiling at me, then continuing to make the noises.
I don’t know what it was about this PARTICULAR incident, but I lost it. Before I knew what I was doing, I had stormed across the street and was in his face yelling at him in Arabic. “Why do you do that? Do you think I like it? What would your mother say? I’m a nice girl and you’ve never even met me.”
The kid was so bewildered, he just kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over again. At the moment I felt like I had done some good in making at least one kid understand that this kind of behavior isn’t okay, but it just wasn’t enough. I eventually left Morocco under severe stress from constant harassment.
Yesterday (Sunday, June 5th 2011) I was at a party at the Angelic Pretty store in San Francisco. Angelic Pretty is a brand of Japanese “lolita style” clothing–basically, frilly dresses worn with lavish accessories and cute shoes and bags. Periodically they have parties for their loyal customers. There were about 25 girls and women ranging in age from 14 to 47 wearing frilly dresses playing party games like Old Maid and candy toss, drinking tea and lemonade and eating pancakes with fruit. Sounds pretty innocent right?
Yet some creep came up to the front door of the store and stared at us, then started taking pictures of us without asking. I unfortunately don’t have a pic to go with this story because my bag was halfway across the room and when he saw that we had noticed him, he ran off, but the girl sitting next to me, one of the girls he snapped, was FOURTEEN. What a creep. I didn’t let it ruin my day, but it’s always a great experience to be having a fun time with other women and be reminded that there are people in the world who view us as consumables. He’s lucky my parasol wasn’t in reach by the time I got to the door.
Me: Did you just take a picture of my ass with your phone?
This Idiot: Heh heh heh – Awe, you caught me, ma.
Idiot: Heh heh heh – C’mon, ma. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to share something so amazing. [wink]
Me: Wow. Seriously?
Idiot: C’mon, what do you expect? You should be proud.
Me: What you just did is NOT flattering – it’s offensive, and really f*cking rude.
Idiot: Awe. Don’t be like that, ma. Want me to delete it?
Me: [Giving him the “WTF do you think?!” face.]
(Two stops later…)
Idiot: So now you takin’ pictures of me?
Me: You can’t blame a girl for wanting to share something so ridiculous.
Have you ever felt like you were being window-shopped? Like you were being full out inspected by eyes that wanted to try you on?
Have you ever changed your outfit five times for fear that someone was going to say something inappropriate to you the moment you walked outside?
“You should smile with that pretty face.” Excuse you? Who are you to tell me what I should do with my face?
It’s happened to me far too many times (ummm, every day…) and while most just accept it as par for the course of being a woman, particularly one living in an urban area, I’m not one to just accept it and move along. Absolutely not. I’m the one who HAS to say something.
I needed to say something, and by say, I also mean create something, dance something. I needed a way to not only figure out how to manage and combat street harassment in my every day life, but also to hear from other women. I want to know their stories so we can support one another in the daily fight to get from point A to point B with out being spoken to, looked at, and at its worse, touched inappropriately. That’s how The Window Sex Project was born. No woman is a display that exists simply for men to harass.
Through community workshops and choreographed performance, The Window Sex Project gives voice to these concerns and restores agency to women by equipping them to manage street harassment, celebrating their bodies and creating a public artwork, specifically a dance performance which takes place in an art gallery. I mean what better tool to respond to this issue than our bodies? – the very object of the harassment.
I am calling EVERY ONE in New York City, but particularly those in my neighborhood of Harlem, to be a part of this work. Here’s how you can get involved:
I look forward to what the months ahead will bring as this project comes to fruition, and many women come together to say something.
I was coming back home from a friend’s house at around midnight. I always make sure to pause my iPod whenever I’m walking home by myself, so that I’m completely aware of my surroundings. I had even thought numerous times of what I would do if someone were to follow me home…but nothing prepared me to the reality of hearing foot steps and the fear of knowing that I was actually being followed.
I had seen him at a distance, walking drunkenly across the street, then turning right where I needed to turn. I lost sight of him, and thought “I’m almost home, just this one block…” but then there he was.
He sees me. He crosses the street towards me. My hoodie is up, and I’m wearing the biggest sweatpants I own. I’m thinking, “This guy cant even possibly make up my shape or features in this…”
I’m barely breathing at this point, completely aware that he is following me, I follow my “planned” protocol. I turn and look at him square in the eye, pulling down my hoodie with confidence and giving him a clear “What the hell are you doing?” look.
I turn back and walk faster…I’m almost home…
He is still following me. He starts demanding for my phone. I say I don’t have one, but I’m gripping it tightly in my pocket, just in case I have to hit him in the head with it. He keeps yelling at me and I panic. I start running. HE RUNS AFTER ME! At this point I’m completely terrified.
Then he cuts me off right in front of the stairs leading to my door, keeping me from going in and yells at me “Give me your phone!”
I see the light is on inside my house and yell “HELP!”. My boyfriend and sister come out almost immediately, and the guy starts threatening my boyfriend. I find a way around this guy and run up the stairs as my boyfriend kicks the guy square in the chest and runs back up to see if I’m alright.
I don’t know if the guy just walked away after that, cause I went in to call the cops and wouldn’t dare look out the window. A police report was filed, even though they said ‘this was probably just some crazy guy, following a pretty girl’ story.
Unfortunately/Fortunately, I am 1,000 times more aware of how men on the street look at me now. In the past week after the incident, I have been followed once, and harassed on the bus/street daily. While I could have responded with more courage before this incident, now I feel (I hate* to admit it) but I feel vulnerable.
I found your website in search of answers on how to deal with this. But just writing what happened helps!