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 wrote this for a class, as a way to make visible the daily harassment that goes on at my school. These are accounts of my experiences, written in the second person.
Men Who Whistle and Howl Like Dogs
The Men Who Dwell In Dark Basements:
While at a house party with your friends, you decide to walk downstairs to the basement to grab a beer. On your way down, someone grabs your ass. You turn around to say something, but the basement’s too damn dark and crowded to make one person out from another.
Beer in hand, you make your way back up the stairs only to have your ass grabbed again. You turn around and this time find yourself face to face with two greasy muscle heads. They both smirk as one steps closer towards you—you can smell the alcohol on his breath. “Yo baby, we wer’ just tryin’ to be friendly,” he says as he looks you up and down. You step forward and try to move through them, telling them to get the hell out of your way, but it’s like trying to move a mountain. The one on your right starts grabbing at you with his coarse hands, the other one stands back and commentates, “Oh yeah, you like that don’t you. Don’t you.” Your whole body clenches up in fear as you push yourself against the wall, trying to escape his desperate pawing. Fortunately, only about a minute goes by (although it feels like forever), before a friend comes bounding down the stairs and pulls you to safety. The grease heads scurry away. You can hear them chuckle like two little schoolgirls as they head back downstairs to the basement. You sigh in relief, but leave the party with your friends feeling angry and violated.
The Man Who Followed Me Home:
It’s early in the morning and you desperately need a cup of coffee. There’s a Dunkin Donuts down the street from you. Pulling on a sweatshirt, and shoving your long hair into a wool-knit hat, you sleepily shuffle out the door and down the street to your coffee haven.
The styrofoam cup warms your hands and you savor every blissful sip of the hot liquid as you make your way back home. You notice that there’s an older looking man walking towards you. Instinctively you look at your feet and quickly walk past him, hoping he won’t say anything. You hear him whistle and smack his lips together. Your heart drops. “Hey mami! Com’ here!” You keep walking, but you can feel him following you. “Mami!” he calls again. He smacks his lips together, making kissing noises and whistles loudly. Your heart starts beating faster—it’s broad daylight, but there isn’t anyone else on the street as far as you can see, and that makes you nervous. The man keeps smacking his lips and whistling. As you walk faster his whistles get louder and louder. You reassure yourself that nothing is going to happen, but doubt is starting to form in the back of your mind. After what feels like forever, you finally reach the corner, making a right toward your house. The yelling and whistling stop. You look behind you and let out a long sigh of relief. He’s nowhere to be seen. You take a long gulp of coffee and walk up the steps and into your house. Your hand shakes as you place the key into the lock.
The Man Who Has No Manners:
You’re walking quickly, because you’re running late for class. Past the flower shop, past the convenience store where you buy your eggs, past the shady bar on the corner that you know you’ll never go to; all these things you don’t notice, because you’re in a hurry. You’re frantic, because this will be the third time you’ve shown up late to that class and all you can think of is how you’re going to be late, going to be late, going to be so god damn late—“Hey you!” You look up, startled out of your trance. There’s a tall, thin man working on his car at the side of the street looking in your direction. You realize he’s talking to you. You walk by, not acknowledging his glances. He yells after you, “Heyyo! Com’ here! Hey, hey you know I’ve fucked girls uglier than you, damn I’d totally fuck you right now. Come back here girl! C’mon, come back!” His words are harsh and shocking against the background of the quiet street. Your heart thumps wildly inside your chest, heat rising to your face. You want to yell back, but nothing comes out when you open your mouth. Fuming, you keep walking, forcing your thoughts to fall back onto your upcoming class and inevitable tardiness.
The Men Who Will Never Get Laid:
It’s late and you’re tired. You didn’t want to go out tonight, but you lost the latest battle against peer pressure so here you are. You’re trying not to be cranky as your friend drags you down the street, rambling on about some boy that she has a crush on. It’s just past ten and you sigh, knowing that you have to stay out until at least midnight so as to not receive backlash from any of your girlfriends. You ask your friend where you’re headed. “The frat house on the corner,” she says. You groan and make a fuss, whining about how you are not in the mood to deal with vagina-hungry party boys. She chuckles and rolls her eyes, mistaking your concern for humor. Nearly to the corner, you give yourself a pep-talk: just smile and stop being such a downer, this will be fu…You and some guy bump shoulders, and you’re thrown off track. You turn around to apologize but before you can open your mouth to say anything, he looks you up and down saying, “Damn girl, I’d lease you out for the night.” It takes you a quick second to register what he has just said. Your face flushes with anger, but before you have time to react, your friend yanks you away. You wonder how people can be so disrespectful. Your friends tell you to relax, that it was just some drunk guy being stupid. You tell them that, no, it’s not just some drunk guy—that it happens all the time and that you’re tired of being so passive about it and that nobody should be able to talk to you like you’re some used up sex doll. You realize that you’ve once again become the downer of the group; you decide not to care. Your friends pull you down the rest of the street to the house and as you’re about to walk up the stairs some guys stops you. “Hey I’ve got some condoms in my wallet, let’s go.” In all your sophistication and glory, you smile and politely tell him to go f**k himself.
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