Christina’s Story: NONE of this is Flattering or Okay

Where to start!

1.When I was 13, a friend of mine and I decided to take a walk around the block. The sun was starting to set so we cut through the back parking lot of a strip mall by my dad’s house (the quickest way home). We passed a stationary blue car, not noticing there was someone in it. When we were about ten feet away, a man in the car started yelling at us to come touch his penis. We turned back around and kept walking. My friend looked back, and a second later grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into the trees lining my street. When I looked back, the guy’s car was right where we had been walking about 3 seconds before, and he was still yelling at us.

2. Fast forward 1 year. I was out walking my dog in the same neighborhood in the middle of the afternoon. A car with a group of three or four 20-something-year old guys pulls up beside me on the road. The driver asks if I want a ride and his friends sit winking at me in the back seat. I tell him no thank you and he moves right along. He comes back around a few minutes later and asks again. I keep walking, ignoring him, and he follows me in his car for a few minutes before finally taking off.

3. My freshman year of high school, I was a skinny, flat-chested, frizzy-haired, obviously underage girl walking home from school one afternoon. I pass by the same parking lot I had almost been run over in (though I didn’t go through it-I’d learned my lesson on that one.) Nevertheless, a man who was no less than 35 years old comes out FROM BEHIND A TREE to ask me if I’m 18 and single. He kept talking to me and wouldn’t let me leave for about ten minutes, and I was looking over my shoulder the whole way home.

4. My junior year of high school, walking home from my boyfriend’s house after dark (around 8:30): again, a man pulls up and says, “Would you like a ride? I think it’s going to rain soon.” I told him, “No thanks, I’m almost home.” “Are you sure? I don’t mind…” “No, it’s okay.” He drove off. I kept walking. AGAIN, several minutes later he comes back from the SAME direction (meaning he had circled around on a side street in order to talk to me again) and pulled up and said, “I thought you were almost home. So how ’bout that ride?”

5. I have been pulled aside at work SEVERAL times by women telling me that a man is watching me from behind a rack, or following me around.

6. When working at the fitting room at Walmart I had a guy come up to me no less than 4 or 5 times in one hour, pestering me to add him on facebook, give him my number, go out with him, ect. There was a woman whose daughter was trying a lot of things on (and who was therefore present each time he came back) who asked if I’d like her to stay there and walk me out to my car that night. The last time the guy came back to ask me one last time (and get one last no), he told me as he walked away, “That’s okay. I know where to find you when you change your mind.” Not IF I change it. WHEN I change it. As if it’s inevitable. I got security to follow him around the rest of the time he was in the store. The same guy used to follow me around apparel whenever he came in after that (thankfully, I think he finally gave up or doesn’t remember me-I got pretty good at avoiding him).

7. At a concert with a friend of mine, I was wearing shorts because it was an all-day, outdoor concert in mid-July. I got fingered (in both holes) several times by random men in the crowd. I don’t even know who did it because it was so crowded. I got hands up my pants everywhere I went, it didn’t matter if I moved somewhere else. I have never worn shorts/skirts to a concert since, regardless of heat.

8. My freshmen year of college I had a class that went from 7:00pm-9:45pm. The class usually walked out as a group because we all parked in the same lot. On this night, however, I had forgotten my laptop and had to double back to get it before the doors were locked. By the time I got back out to the parking lot, everyone was gone-except for about 15 huge basketball players that were all being rowdy and drunk on someone’s tailgate. They had been loud and laughing before they saw me. As I came into view, they got dead silent, just staring me down all the way to my car. I knew I’d never be able to outrun them or fight them off and there was no one to hear me scream. They didn’t do anything but stare. But it was the longest 100 feet I have ever walked in my life.

9. I’ve had people slap my ass or pinch my nipples while out in public, buying groceries or just walking down the street. They always hurry off before I can even process what happened.

10. (My favorite): Back when I had red hair, I used to get random guys come up to me to ask “Hey sexy, does the carpet match the drapes?” I mean, seriously??? Are you REALLY asking me what color my pubes are??? REALLY?!?!?

11. When I was working at the jewelry counter in Walmart, I had a guy come over and ask me if I’d marry him if he bought me a certain ring in the case. I told him (politely-he said it flirtatiously, not harassingly)no, I was already engaged (even showed him the ring). He kept at it for over ten minutes, trying to get me to go out with him, telling me how pretty I was, insinuating that my fiance was probably a loser anyway, and why won’t I give him a shot?

12. I’ve had random men ask me if I’m pregnant if they’re within earshot when I say I’m tired or don’t feel good (as if that’s the only plausible explanation for a woman not feeling good).

13. I’ve been honked, whistled, and shouted at more times than I could possible count from men in gas stations, grocery stores, or driving by on the road.

14. On my graduation night (high school), I had to go to the CVS pharmacy down the street to get a prescription for my fiance’s mother who had cancer. In line, I got into a friendly conversation with the man behind me, who was probably in his mid-fifties. After checking out, I got into my car. At a red light, the man pulled up next to me and signaled at me to roll my window down. Thinking I must have forgotten something at the counter, I obliged, only to have him start hitting on me now that we were out of earshot of the cashier on a deserted road at 10 o’clock at night. The light turned green before I could respond and I gratefully turned left. A minute later, however, I saw the guy’s car following behind me. I sped up-so did he. I turned-so did he. When I finally thought I had lost him, I sped home as fast as I could. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, he pulled up on the street. He eyed me for a minute and drove away. Watching from the window when I entered the house, I saw his car drive by again about 6 times within the hour.

IT IS NOT FLATTERING. IT IS NOT OKAY.

When men do this type of thing to women, or yell crude comments about their breasts or ass or legs or thighs, it is not a compliment in our eyes. YOUR INTENTION IS IRRELEVANT. The woman you are “conversing” with does not know what your intentions are. But I can guaran-goddamn-tee you that she knows what they MIGHT be. And THAT is what matters.

I have been groped, touched, insulted, intimidated, followed, and propositioned more times than I can count, in more places than I can name. I have been harassed in broad daylight and at night. It’s happened in busy stores and on deserted streets. It’s happened when I’ve looked my best, hair straightened and form-fitting clothes, and when I’ve looked my worst, hair a mess, in jeans and a baggy sweater with no make-up. It happens so often that I sometimes get upset even when someone is trying to pay me a genuine compliment. A LOT of men do these things, thinking that they are flattering a woman, when in reality, you are probably just scaring her or pissing her off. If you want to flatter a girl, smile, tell her she’s beautiful (NOTE: not “nice tits!” “Wanna fuck?” or “DAMN, girl!”) and move on.

I've got your back!
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3 Responses

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  1. Hazelthecrow says:

    blinking heck, thats pure creepy all over! shivers for you, and #gotyourback

  2. M says:

    Shocking and sickening, all of it. I weep for your experiences, and for humanity in general. Ugh – how could this ever be thought to be ok in anyone’s mind? I resent being part of the male gender. I want to help put a stop to this. My wish for you is that you are surrounded by good guys in your life, friends, relatives, neighbors, who will not put up with this shit and will help to put a stop to it. Keep telling your stories.

  3. Man With Honor says:

    I knew our US culture perpetuates exploitation of women but even I had no idea it was this bad. I’m so sorry. Oh, and I got your back.

    And M, don’t be ashamed of your gender. Instead, change what it means to be a man. That should be our objective: to redefine manhood as a male who respects all walks of life. But here isn’t the place for that conversation. I just don’t want you to feel negatively about who you are.

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