I would like to keep this story general, but I have had several men working at a car dealership make inappropriate comments towards me when I walk by. This dealership happens to be on the route I enjoy walking, and I refuse to deviate my path just because they are so inclined to comment on my attire. A couple of years ago they used to ask me if I would like to exchange my heels for wheels, but eventually stopped when I complained to their manager. I may be walking by the car dealership, but that does not mean I want to buy a car there. I walk by several other car dealerships, and I have never had anyone at those scream at me.
The behavior went away for two years, and then re-emerged a few months ago. Once one of the men told me how he noticed I had new shoes, which made me feel a little uncomfortable. Women walking by a place of business do not usually feel comfortable having men comment on their shoes. A few weeks ago I had two of them screaming they liked my socks, and my hat. They also mentioned they liked my gloves and umbrella.
I suppose I could tell their supervisor, but I really do not feel like wasting my time. Lately I have just been ignoring them, but I would imagine somebody realized what was going on because the last two weeks the behavior died down. I do not respond when one or two of the men screaming hi at me from the car dealership because people do not enjoy being screamed at. I am simply walking by on a public sidewalk, and I would appreciate being left in peace. I do not scream hi at people I do not know, and I would never make comments about what they are wearing. Some things are just not appropriate.
Submitted by J.E.
I was walking out of work one night. It was around 9 pm on a Sunday. As I started down the street towards the subway, I saw a group of guys come out of a club next the my work’s building. I didn’t really think much of it, because it is New York City.
When I got a little closer, they started hollering at me, and one guy came up to me and started saying things like “Listen, all these brothers want to fuck you right now, right here, okay? They want to fuck you so hard…”
I told the guy to screw off, and I crossed the street. They they followed me. This was a group of about 15 guys, and I am one 125 lb girl, and I don’t get scared that easily, but I felt like it was time to run. When they started trying to grab at me, it was absolutely time to leave. So I took off in the other direction, and ran into the Trader Joe’s on 6th Ave. They didn’t follow me.
Now here’s my question. There were three clubs on that street with bouncers standing outside of them- including the club that these guys had come out of. Where were the bouncers, and why didn’t they help me?
Submitted by Alex
I was followed for about 30 minutes by a man while walking alone midday in downtown Port of Spain, Trinidad. At first, I thought I was being paranoid, but as he recognized that his following me was making me nervous, I could see he was enjoying scaring me and he made more of a show of following me. I finally ran into a church and hid for another 45 minutes until he went away.
Submitted by Naomi
I was visiting Valencia in Spain for the festival Las Fallas. Like with the reporter in Egypt, the streets were completely packed with people. Everyone was squeezed together, and as I was squeezing through, numerous men groped me, one even getting his hand almost all the way down my pants.
Submitted by Deanna
I was walking into Gold’s Gym, when a car full of men barked at me.
Submitted by Deanna.
What do you do when a friend harasses you?
I have faced a great deal of harassment – verbal and physical – from strangers, while walking down the street, traveling in buses and trains, at college and at work, in Mumbai and Bangalore. When a stranger is involved, it is easy to fight back; and the incident, while not forgotten, doesn’t matter quite as much after some time. But when someone you consider a friend, someone you trust, treats you like a piece of meat, it becomes really difficult to deal with.
I was on a short holiday with a mixed group of nature-enthusiast friends at a wildlife reserve some months ago. While intently watching and trying to identify some butterflies at one point, I felt someone touch my butt. It could only have been the person standing behind me – a man almost 18 years younger, who was a regular member of our group trips. At age 43, I really thought that I was done with stuff like this – and that too by a person I knew and trusted? I did not react, as I couldn’t believe what had happened – I tried to rationalize the incident, wondering if it could have been an accident, a mistake, anything! But the next day, it happened again – just at the moment when all of us were watching an exciting bird! I had been careful to stay away from him, but at that moment, all of us converged on the same point to look at this bird – he happened to be behind me again, and in an instant, touched me on the butt again. Now, I did not have any doubt about the act, or that it was purposefully executed.
But I still could not bring myself to confront him, or to tell anyone else about it. This is the worst thing about being harassed by someone one knows – one feels greater embarrassment at the prospect of being disbelieved, than at the act itself. Maybe this was the mistake I made. I continued to behave normally till we got back home, and mulled over how to tackle the issue.
I decided to confide in the female members of my group, and also a few other friends. While some unhesitatingly believed me, some of those who were good friends with him, did not. Not only that, I was told that I should have confronted him there and then. While that is very easy to say, only someone who has faced harassment from a known person will be able to understand my state of mind. I also found out that I was not his only victim, someone else had also faced this problem, but refused to identify herself and speak up openly about it. Some of my friends confronted him with my accusation, and he, of course, denied it vehemently. And they found no reason to disbelieve him. I don’t understand this at all – why believe him over me? After all, women are supposed to stick together and support one another, right?
As it stands now, many of my friends continue to socialize with him in spite of my having told them about this incident. I am the one who has to take the trouble to find out where I may run into him, and avoid such events. Also, I can feel a definite cooling off in some of my friends’ behaviour towards me. In the end, I am not only the victim, I am also paying the price for talking about the incident.
So, my question is, what does one do if harassed by a ‘friend’?
Submitted by Uma
After traveling extensively, a year ago I decided to set up and stay put here for awhile.
Every time I leave the house either going to work at 8am, going to the gym, out for an occasion without fail a man or a group, will say or do something in a derogatory and sexist way that quiet frankly makes me feel uncomfortable and somewhat abused!
I’m sick of being looked at or wolf whistled at or being called “baby” and “sexy” like a piece of meat.
Just last weekend I was walking in Bethnal Green at about 8 o’clock at night on a Saturday wearing jeans and a jacket when a car with a man pulled up beside me for about 200 meters asking if I was looking for business and “how much”, I ignored him until he kept persisting until I replied “no, go away”. He continued to follow me yelling in another language with every now and then adding in a “fucking” and a “slut”.
Stuff like this happens all the time, I won’t even leave the house with a short dress or shorts on, despite this being a country of freedom, with fear that I will cause myself unnecessary attention. It doesn’t matter if I am with my boyfriend even, it still happens! Where is the freedom in that? Honestly I have been to some Middle Eastern countries where women hold little status in society and this I can compare it to. WHAT THE HELL! What Country am I in? I have no rights and their isn’t a damn thing I can do beside put my head down and walk on and put up with it.
Submitted by Naomi.
This happened in 2000, I was waiting for the mid-night train to Amsterdam in the Berlin U-bahnhof McDonald’s. This McDonald’s had two floors, the first floor was the kitchen, the second floor had bathrooms. In Europe, McDonald’s and Burger King have free bathrooms, so I took advantage of this by sitting next to them. While waiting for my train, two drunk German men walk by me and then scoot into my booth and start speaking to me. I tell them “No spreche Deutsch,” point to my watch and get out to leave. Instead of heading to the platforms I decide to use the bathroom. While I’m in the ladies room, one of the drunk German’s come in and start banging on the stall door. I proceed to scream as loud as I can and hold the door shut. Luckily he left, I waited for a few minutes grabbed something out of my bag to use as a weapon and then proceed to run out of the bathroom as fast as I could. I saw him out of the corner of my eye being consoled by his friend. I ran and hid in the baggage locker section. At midnight I caught the train to Amsterdam. Looking back I wished I had gone to the police or the manager of the McDonald’s. What I realize from this experience is there needs to be talk about these situations or how to react so as to prevent this from happening to other women.
Submitted by Blaire
I was taking my first ride on a London double decker bus. I was pretty happy and excited.
I was alone on the top of the bus as it wasn’t that warm outside.
A man came up the stairs and sat down right beside me. My mind did throw up warning flags; why is he sitting right next to me, there are plenty of seats? But I wasn’t prepared to hate/distrust him immediately, I was young and I had been raised to be polite. I’m older now, if this happened to me today I would immediately rise and walk to a seat behind/next to the driver.
Anyway, the man was talking to me about London and then said; “Oh, I like your necklace (I was wearing a pendant)and reaching out he grabbed, not my necklace, but my breast. I was speachless, but now I did get up out of my seat and walked downstairs. I was shaken up though and instead of my planned trip to the Victoria and Albert Mueum I got off of the bus and hailed a taxi back to my friend’s home.
Submitted by Karen.