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I was waiting at the crosswalk to cross the street. Three men walked by. One yelled, “Damn, Ling Ling! You’ve got an ASS!”
It’s a tradition that me and my mother, as creative writers, go to Barnes & Noble every Sunday. Once we arrived at the rather busy place, we found our seats, settled down, and my mom went to get in line to order some food. I had started typing on my laptop when a very suspicious elderly man (60-70’s of age) was awkwardly walking past me. I was wearing an appropriate kind of tank top with a plaid shirt and leggings. I am always vigilant of strangers and I do have trust issues. The elderly man whispered, only loud enough for me to hear, “Nice tits.” All the heat literally drained from my body. This guy had his wife with him for Christ’s sake! This was my first experience of harassment, and my first instinct was to see that he was alone and straight up kick his ass. I wanted to leave. I lost my appetite. I lost my will to enjoy my time. I lost my creativity. I’ve never felt so vulnerable or scared. I’ve developed a form of insomnia, even knowing that I will not see him again, but also knowing that this is only the first round of harassment. And I’m only sixteen.
I don’t even know if this is harassment…all I know is that since is happened I can’t stop thinking about it. The whole thing makes me very uncomfortable.
I flew into Heathrow on Saturday evening around 9:30pm after a quick trip home. I requested a car from a very well known App, and the driver soon rang me to say he was outside the terminal. After some confusion it turned out he was parked outside the arrivals (which seems logical!) but I was after coming out the departures exit (my fault – I was after a few glasses of wine. Certainly not drunk, but not all that sober either). He was nice enough not to cancel the trip and instead drove around to meet me, which given the size of the terminal and the direction of the one-way roads took him about 10 minutes. I was grateful that he didn’t leave me stranded, once he arrived I expressly thanked him for this.
We chatted on the ride in towards the city, partly to be polite, partly to show my appreciation for his earlier help. I asked him general questions about his life, family etc., as you do in situations like that. He asked me where I was going, I told him to meet my husband at a party. to which he replied something along the lines of ‘he’s so lucky’. Husband rings and I confirm with him that I should be arriving in about 15 minutes (as per drivers suggestion upon overhearing convo with said husband).
As we get closer to destination (a pub I have never been to in Chelsea), he starts getting more ‘complimentary’; “you are so beautiful”, “my ex was not as pretty as you”, “any man would be lucky to have you”, and more stuff I can’t quite remember fully (partly out of tipsiness, partly just to forget). What do you bloody do when a cab driver starts talking to you like that alone on a motorway at 10pm anyway? I just put it down to slightly inappropriate compliments, as I decided that to voice my slight discomfort would make the rest of the journey even more strange. I thanked him (weird I know) and stated I am texting husband again to say I am almost there.
So I am rambling on about something at this stage, trying to change the subject and make the time go faster, and I notice he has pulled up the car. Now, at first I take little notice of this, I guess we have arrived at destination and I’m going to finish my point and be on my way. But after about a minute I kind of register that we are on a residential street and although I’ve never been to this pub before, I’m pretty sure it’s not in between these flats we are parked outside.
I have a bit of a ‘what should I do’ moment here. I mean, I’ve just been nice to this guy as I feel he’s gone out of his way to find me at the airport when he could have just buggered off, so I don’t now want to get all sassy with him (or presumptuous that he’s up to no good). But at the same time I immediately feel unsafe and vulnerable, and his ‘compliments’ are suddenly starting to feel loaded with intention. I decide to play dumb.
Me: ‘Oh, we are here! Where exactly is the pub? I don’t see it.’
Driver: ‘The pub is up around the next corner on the main road’
Me: ‘OK – why are we stopped here?’
Driver: ‘Just because I thought we were having a nice chat and we could continue to get to know each other for another few minutes. I like being with you’.
Me: ‘That’s very sweet thank you, but my husband is waiting for me so I better go’.
So he starts the car and drives the final minute along this darkish street on to the bright main road to the pub. Car stops, I thank him, and get out. I feel – even now – very strange about the whole thing. Was I too drunk? Was I too nice? Was I too chatty? Did I not make my situation clear enough? Does any of that matter??
Topped all off by Husbands reaction when I told him on Sunday – well, you must have given him a reason to act like this. You are always too nice, guys can read that the wrong way, it can be taken as flirting. THIS HURT ME MORE THAN ANYTHING. I feel let down by men TWICE; first my the man who took advantage of my tipsy-niceness in his position of control as driver of the car, second by my husband who claimed immediately that it was my own fault.
As I said at the start of this ramble, I don’t know if this counts as harassment because he didn’t touch me or say anything really explicit, but I just feel that grimy down-in-the-gut stink you feel when something just doesn’t add up to OK.
Thanks for reading my story. x
I was 16 years old at the time, however I am fairly tall for my age and appear to be older than I really am, not that that should make ANY difference. I was taking the train to downtown Toronto by myself and walking to a little place called Kensington Market to meet my mother and sister who were already downtown. It was about a 15 minute walk from the train station and I felt confident walking alone downtown. As I was nearing the market I see a man riding his bicycle coming in my direction. I am a pretty polite girl so I simply smiled back at the man. As the man rode closer on his bike he seemed to be leaning closer to me and when he passed by he leaned ever further and TRIED TO KISS ME while he passed me on his damn bike! I totally did not see this coming and I was in complete shock. Sure I am used to getting cat calls very often but I have never experienced something like this. I had no idea what to do. I simply just kind of stood there in shock not knowing wether to cry or scream. I couldn’t do much either way because the man had simply continued to bike passed me like nothing had happened. It was disgusting and I will never forget.
I was in London on business, for the first time I’d come by myself. Once finished I went to the Westfield Shopping Centre at 3 in the afternoon. I was wearing a shirt that was buttoned all the way up, not that it should matter in the slightest. Two guys started walking either side of me in the middle of the shopping centre, one yelled, ‘Great boobs’, whilst the other made growling noises. I felt really intimidated and upset, and ended up going home shortly after. Mostly I felt humiliated, there were lots of people around, no one said anything to these men. This is one story of so many incidents I’ve experienced.
This week was shorter, but the movement was more fierce than ever! At Hollaback! HQ we are having a lot of fun preparing for our End of the Year Campaign, and you’ll see what we are talking about very soon! This week we had a great Twitter chat on #SayftyChat discussing street harassment. We also learned so many things about Macedonia from Natasha, our IREX Fellow.
And at Hollaback! around the world:
Hollaback! Ottawa gave a lecture to a Carleton University class on Social Marketing, about their work and how they use grassroots, DIY techniques to “recruit” and raise awareness (i.e.: chalk walks, wheat pasting, attending ComicCon, etc.).
Hollaback! Italia chose Nov 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to reveal the results of the survey in partnership with Cornell University. They were featured in several online magazines among which Marie Claire. Way to go Italy!
Hollaback! Cuenca held the First Day Against Street Harassment with the title “Street Harassment as a Socially Accepted Form of Violence” at the University of Cuenca, with talks, discussions, presentation of their first report on street harassment in Cuenca, and launch of the Hollaback! application. They were even featured in the media! This is amazing beyond words Cuenca!
Hollaback! Vegas published Issue #3 of The League of Extraordinary Feminists. If you wanna check out this amazing zine by these kick-ass youth volunteers, write to them!
Stay tuned for more awesomeness next week!
Holla and out!
I was victimized horrifically by a subway sex abuser earlier this fall, on the E train during the morning rush. It was probably the most humiliating and degrading moment of my life. That day the platform was extra crowded because of delays, and so to avoid being late, I had to squeeze on behind this large lady. I barely made it on myself, so I was irritated when, as the doors were whooshing shut, this young man shoe-horns himself in behind me. His body was plastered against mine, and I could feel his junk crushed against my behind. But I thought it was an accident. When I craned to look behind me, he was a nicely dressed, pretty good looking white guy who didn’t seem like he’d have trouble getting dates. I figured he was probably even more embarrassed at our awkward situation than I was. So I ignored it – at first.
As the train rumbles along, and my butt bounces against him, he starts sprouting this huge erection right in the crack of my ass. Using the motion of the train as an excuse, he keeps poking it in as deep he could. I thought, I am being dry humped against my will in the middle of a bunch of people! Totally disgusted, I tried moving forward, but the big woman wouldn’t budge, in fact she elbowed me. When the train pulled into the next station, I prayed people would get off, but just the opposite happened. A wave of new passengers shoved on, and the pervert squashed against me even tighter. The train took off again, rocking back and forth, and it felt like I had a thick wooden broomstick wedged between my buttocks.
I thought of screaming, “Get off me, jerk,” but I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to make a scene. The next stop was in about ten minutes and I told myself I could stand it that long. Then, of all the freaking luck, the train STOPPED between stations for about 5 minutes. You’d think maybe this slimy creep would stop without the movement of the car giving him cover, but he actually became more aggressive, brazenly thrusting way up in between my cheeks. I was so shocked and paralyzed with fear, I could hardly breathe. And then the most horrible part. The vile piece of shit leans in and whispers in my ear in this creepy little voice, “If my girlfriend knew we were doing this, she’d kill me.”
That was almost worse than anything, because it made it sound like I was his partner in his sick act. The train finally moved again, and I guess my assailant realized I wasn’t going to do anything, so he just started POUNDING, very hard and fast. By this point I had my head down and my eyes were watering. I felt completely worthless. For all intents and purposes, I was being anally raped through my skirt. Well, I guess you can figure what happened next: He tensed up, his penis lashed around behind me for a few seconds, then I felt a wetness on my butt. I hoped it was my imagination, but when I got off the train and reached back, I was repulsed to feel the slimy gook. I hastily wiped it off with a Kleenex, but the whole time at work I couldn’t concentrate because I hoped no one would notice.
Later at home, I told my boyfriend what happened and he was livid. He said I “clearly” must have done something to “encourage” the bastard, and that if I wasn’t enjoying it, I would have stepped on the guy’s foot or screamed. His not being supportive is one reason I am having a hard time getting over this traumatizing experience.
I’ve spotted the nasty train molester 3 times since the incident. Once grinding another woman and twice just standing nonchalantly on the platform. The scumbag didn’t appear to recognize me. I guess I was just one of hundreds, maybe thousands, he’d used to relieve himself.
Walking my dog at 10 o’clock, apparently the new things is to have speakers installed on the outside your car and a microphone so you can more anonymously make women uncomfortable enemy you pull up beside them and cat call, backing up slowly add we walk past. Uncomfortable enough that I went and got my boyfriend and you immediately felt scared off and decided to leave me alone. Leaving me wishing I had confronted you myself, because my martial arts training means I probably could’ve kicked your ass myself, but I don’t feel that kind of confidence.
Someone ran up behind me and forcefully groped my bottom while I was walking home. I have a stun gun but couldn’t get him before he skateboarded away. He was wearing a black coat with a camo hoodie underneath and the skateboard was black.
While with a group of friends (four other women and four men), a male (wouldn’t call him a man) approached us and said, “I see a lot of pussies here.” He continued talking about our vaginas, so one friend and I screamed at him to leave us alone. Several strangers were around and didn’t help us out, but finally told the server at the stand we were at to call the police. The person harassing us continued to make sexual comments at us. He then began calling me fat and ugly and walked away, but not before I snapped a picture of him and shared it with my mother, who works with the Oakland Police Department. We were all angry and disgusted by this harassment.