Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I have accepted that public transportation in my city is less than ideal, but my job is good and I don’t have a car, so I deal with it.
On the way home, I noticed a guy injecting what I hope was insulin into his belly with a large syringe. He was doing it with some difficulty and the syringe was waving around. I was horrified that he had a needle on the bus and couldn’t take my eyes off it. He took this to mean that I found him irresistible. He handed me a slip of paper with his name and phone number on it and said,”call me sometime.” I nodded and slipped it in my bag, not knowing what to do.
A few stops later, he sat in the seat next to mine, asked what time it was, and touched the arm closest to him when I answered. As a person who needed my front of the bus seat more than I did got on the bus, I moved back a bit and sat next to a small girl, but the guy didn’t let up. I got off the bus at my stop and noticed he did as well. He followed me halfway down the block toward my house, not riding his bike quickly, just fast enough to keep up with my gait. He finally got bored and turned around and left, but I was shaken the rest of the way home. Does being a woman mean I have to put up with that kind of s— just by taking the bus?
I was walking with my brother who had come from out of town to help me move into a new place in a new neighborhood. As we were walking, someone yelled to him out of their car “hey, your girl has a nice ass” I was really embarrassed, but my brother yelled back “she’s my sister” The driver then yelled “calm down, I’m just complimenting you both!”
When my brother told the story to our friends when we went out that night, everyone thought it was funny and his wife even said “that’s cute” but I was so embarrassed, even by the re-telling.
Ladies, not even your job is a safe zone from harassment. Today I was re-setting a shelf for some new products and a man came up to me and asked me if I worked there, where a product was, the normal stuff I hear every day. Later on I was at the register and he came through my line. He asked my name (I gave a fake one), how old I was, and how much I knew about tools. Then he grabbed himself and said, “I got a big tool and I wanna use it on you, sweet thing” while licking his lips. I told him straight out to leave me the f*ck alone, called for a backup cashier and closed my line, forcing a male coworker to take care of him. Afterward I told my manager, and he said he doubted the guy really said that and that even if he did, he is a customer and “customers are where we get our paychecks.” My job cares more about profit than their employees feeling safe and comfortable. So I walked out and quit. I have a second job to fall back on anyway.
Several years ago, I only had a bike to get to and from my job. The ride was five miles each way, and in no time at all, I was in pretty good shape.
One afternoon, after finishing my shift, I had just crossed an incredibly busy intersection and was coasting down the sidewalk when out of nowhere, these guys started catcalling me. I don’t remember exactly how many there where, but they were saying things along the lines of “Yeah baby! Looking good!”
Tired, cranky and now pissed off, I slammed my brakes on, located the direction of the catcalls (a dark green pickup about fifteen feet away from me), and in front of the entire waiting line of traffic, I flipped the guys off with both hands, screaming at the top of my lungs “DON’T EVER CALL ME THAT AGAIN!”
Not waiting for their response, I got back on my bike and pedaled home.
When I related the story to my mother later that night, she expressed her disappointment in my “unladylike” behavior and that the guys were only “trying to compliment” me.
That night, I wasn’t sure who I was more upset with: the truck full of guys who catcalled me or the mom who didn’t seem to understand that I was defending myself against street harassment.
I’ve always been a bit spacey and slow on the uptake when it comes to conversation, so I often don’t realize I’ve been flirted with or hit on during the day until I’m going through my day right before I fall asleep. This usually isn’t too much of a problem for me, but it’s thanks to a certain brave woman that it didn’t lead me to some dangerous consequences when I faced a harasser a few months ago.
I was taking the bus back from the airport, and a female passenger struck up a conversation about the luggage I was using. We chatted a bit, and eventually a man sitting behind me joined in on the conversation. The woman got off at the bus stop and the conversation continued, and because I thought he was just being casually friendly I didn’t notice that he was persistently casing me out for personal details – where I was going, what college I was going to, where I was staying, etc. stuff that I didn’t think twice about when telling him because I didn’t realize that’s what he was doing, or that he was showing non-platonic interest in me,
Then, a woman sitting across from me turned, looked at me and him, and loudly and pointedly told me that she would be watching what stop I was getting off at in case he decided to follow me. Suddenly, I realized the situation I was in, and what possible danger I was getting into. He confirmed that suspicion by getting angry and turned to verbally abusing her, trying to tell me that she was just jealous because he wasn’t hitting on her and forcefully insisting I tell him my name. She wouldn’t take that kind of behavior and started telling him off, and they started arguing. All I could do was keep silent – I’d never been in this kind of situation before. Eventually, he got off and I thanked the woman for cluing me in.
When I got off, I was shaken. I felt stupid that I’d let myself get duped so easily, angry that he would think it was okay to treat me like that in the first place, but above all else, I was grateful that someone had stepped in to help someone else who was unknowingly being placed in a dangerous situation and defend them from a harasser. I don’t know your name, woman on the bus, but I’d like to thank you again for your altruism and your bravery.