Lilly’s Story: “I Can Never Feel Safe in this City”

I’m 19 years old, out of school and looking for a job. I had made plans to go to several local businesses–a clothing store and a couple art shops–to look for a job. To show to potential employers that I’m a creative and unique person while still looking somewhat professional, I wore a white blouse with a steampunk-esque corset over it, skinny jeans and heels. I was feeling pretty confident and fashionable, but that didn’t last long.

Not even five minutes after leaving the house, I get a few wolf whistles. The further into the city I went, the worse it got. The catcalling began, with “hey shawty”, “hey baby” and “sup sexy.” This was coming from men between 20 and 60, mind you, and even a little 10 year old boy (if that) whistled at me. I was so disgusted, especially that it is so acceptable in our society to do that to women that even children that young are doing it. At one point, I passed these three dirty old men sitting on their doorstep, and each one of them made a comment, with the first calling me sexy, that second calling me beautiful, and by that point I was so upset that I didn’t even hear the third. Did they think they were actually complimenting me?

Then came the scary part. I’m always afraid that people in the city have guns that they might use to shoot people over the littlest things, because I see incidents like that on TV. Still, I took a chance. As I was heading back home, a silver car pulled up next to me and cruised along as I walked. My heart began to race and all I could think was, “Uh-oh, one wrong move and I could end up dead.” They said something I couldn’t understand, but I got the gist of it. I told them to fuck off, and the driver said, “Oh, you said you want me to fuck off? Feisty one.” I told them, “Not even in another lifetime,” and continued to walk. They lingered for a moment and then drove away, and I darted down the next corner, trying to distance myself from them as much as I could. I have never been so uncomfortable and frightened in my life. I can never feel safe in this city.

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