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Group of ~10 guys in the city park drinking, one of which is making a point to go out of his way to come up to women and shake hands or give high fives.
I sit down to eat my sandwich, and there he comes (I think he missed me on the way in because he was busy bothering someone else).
“Gibberish gibberish (in Dutch)”
“I don’t speak Dutch”
“Hello, will you shake my hand please?”
“No thank you”
“What? Please? Everyone else has.”
“No thank you.”
“Are you a friendly person?”
“Please leave me alone.”
Offers fist pound. “This is all I want then I’ll leave you alone.”
“You can leave me alone right now.”
He gives a look of disbelief but departs.
~15 minutes later, another member of the group comes up. He says hello and offers me some food. I say no thank you. He says “What do you want?” He says this to me. I say “I want to be left in peace to eat my lunch.”
~15 minutes later I walk past the entire group, as they are near the entrance. I hear in English “I like that one, but she’s very impolite.”
Kept on walking. Desire was to eat in peace and not be wheedled, whined, shamed, or harassed into interacting with anyone I didn’t feel like interacting with. My free will and desire is not negotiable.
I have been dealing with harassment since my teens (now late 20s), mainly by men who think honking, yelling, or directing some sort of comment at me is the way into my pants. However, I experienced the biggest violation on my way to work one day this summer.
I ride my bike through a slightly sketchy part of town in the morning to get to my job- it’s about a 10 minute ride. This particular morning I was riding and out of the corner of my eye I saw a car get close to my bike on the left side- so close that I thought it was going to hit me. As it came by, a teenage boy stuck out his hand and grabbed my butt while I was still riding and while the car was moving toward a stoplight. He even yelled out a “woo!” as it happened, to the delight of the 3 other guys in the car. Dumbfounded, I sped up trying to catch them…the crazy part is, they went through a red light and illegally went around traffic to try to get away from me. A few lights down the road, I gave them a profanity laced scolding and I took their license plate number down. I sure hope the cop that talked to me gave the groper a speech to remember later that night at his parent’s house.
Invasive pat downs are always in the back of my mind when I fly. I can’t relax until I hear the engines start up.
So, going through PDX security alone and having a TSA agent stop me by the first class lane, look at my id and boarding pass, and ask “You first class or just beautiful?” scared me. I was kinda shocked and said “What?” maybe a little sharper than I needed to. He quickly handed me back my boarding pass and id and waved me over to the line I’d been heading for to begin with without saying anything else.
I was terrified I’d be subjected to a pat down (groped) because I’d been snippy with him and maybe embarrassed him. It’s a miracle I didn’t look suspicious to someone just because I was scared of that happening.
First I should explain myself and how I’ve come to realize unwanted attention is not OK. I live in the South, where ladies are said to be gentle, and I know they put up with a lot of crap. My mother always loved unwanted attention from men, she flirted back and fed off of it.
I myself am much more modest and uncomfortable with such encounters. I grew up thinking it was OK for the attention and that I should bask in it and consider it a validation of my attractiveness and womanhood.
Fast forward to present day. My sister and I decide to go out one weekend for drinks and dancing with our Dad. Two men join our table that dad knows from the bar he frequents. They seem harmless enough, but one constantly lies to me about his age and agonizingly comments on how beautiful I am. No conversation had.
Dad leaves, my sister and I decide to dance, leaving said men at the table. All of a sudden the guy who lies about his age comes up behind me and starts dancing. (Note: I hate dancing with dudes. It’s gross). I try to move away and he immediately smacks my ass. It’s over, but I’m enraged. I give him a verbal lashing how that is never OK and force him to apologize. Although I did get an apology, I have a feeling he didn’t get the message.
On June 23 around 9 p.m., I was at my job supervising an outdoor volleyball game on campus. When I was on my way back to the game after taking a bathroom break, I had to go through an alley to get to the other side of the street. A man said hi to me as I was exiting that alley. I was nervous because he seemed sketchy, but I quickly replied hi to avoid a nasty response and kept walking. He then asked me where I was from, and when I ignored him and crossed the street, he kept shouting at me trying to guess.Then he mumbled something I couldn’t make out. I normally feel very safe on my campus, even at night. However being harassed near a dark alley when I’m just trying to do my job and mind my own business shook me up. Even though I know harassment isn’t acceptable not matter a woman’s appearance, I certainly didn’t expect to be harassed while I was wearing my uniform.
I was walking home at night the other day. I saw a group of men in their seventies who said, “Hello, beautiful.” I’m a seventeen year old girl who didn’t know them at all, so I thought they might have seen someone they knew. But no, those seventy year old men were talking to me, and since I hadn’t answered them the first time, they just came closer and started saying, “Hey, beautiful, hello!” louder. Since they kept getting closer and wouldn’t stop, I eventually said, “Hello” and then went away as fast as I could.
I just can’t understand how those men thought they were complimenting me. I just can’t understand why a group of seventy year old men would harass a teenager and think that’s perfectly fine.
I have probably gained about 8-10 pounds since the holidays, so I am just now getting back into working out, running, and just becoming healthier in general. After the gym one day I came straight back to my house. This was on a particularly hot day (I live in Savannah, GA where it can easily reach temperatures in the 100s), so I was wearing a tight (thanks to my 8-10 lbs) pair of soffe shorts and a loose tank top. As I was just approaching my door a group of middle aged men in a white pick up truck stopped right out side of my door. They proceeded to scream loudly, making harassing comments about my body. I could not unlock my door fast enough. As soon as I got in my house I did not want to leave for the rest of the night.
First off: this isn’t about a particular incident, but rather about the sum total of incidents that have happened to me lately and the way many people (not only men) react when i tell them about being harassed.
When I moved to Spain about five months ago, I was shocked about how frequently I got catcalled, even though I thought I knew the country well enough to be prepared. I wasn’t prepared. A month into my stay, I was completely and utterly sick of it, and as a foreigner with a noticeable accent in the local language, I found it hard to bring up the courage to say something to make them stop. I started taking notes instead. Ever since, I have been carefully registering every single man who invaded my space with the date, location, and what was said and/or done. This is how I know that in the past four months I have been harassed by men more than 30 times. Most of the incidents were verbal and harmless in nature when taken for themselves (like passers-by saying “Hola guapa”–”hello pretty”–and then turning away). But there have also been others–men trying to physically block my way, men moaning and breathing into my ear or making kissing sounds, men calling me a whore and commenting on my butt while walking behind me. On my worst day, I counted four independent incidents–and I was only out in public for 40 minutes total that day.
When I mention being harassed, others (men and women and all nationalities alike) often defend the harassers, saying things like, “It doesn’t really happen THAT often” or “Your fault for moving to Spain” or “I told you you shouldn’t have rented a place in that particular part of town.” I can’t even express how sick I am of hearing this.
FIRST: YES, IT DOES HAPPEN THAT OFTEN. I know because I am experiencing it, and it has been bothering me so much that I felt forced to keep track of it in writing. If you think that being harassed 30 times in 4 months is acceptable, you should probably seek professional help. And even if it didn’t happen that often (or effectively doesn’t in other places), how does that make it any more acceptable when it does happen? SECOND: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A COUNTRY OR A PART OF TOWN WHERE STREET HARASSMENT IS SIMPLY TO BE TOLERATED. I like where I live just fine. I would just like to be able to walk to the supermarket without having people honking, yelling, or whistling at me, and no, this is not asking too much. I am not doing anything wrong by living here. The harassers are doing things wrong by harassing women who live here.
I would like to finish this on a good note, so I’ll say that keeping records of all the men who have harassed me has really helped me to see that I have more than enough reason to complain, and more, it has given me the confidence to holler back. Yesterday, when a particularly invasive harasser told me repeatedly how “guapa” he thought I was, I told him firmly that nobody asked his opinion. It shut him up, and an elderly man walking in front of me who had overheard both the cat-calling and my reply gave me a smile, congratulating me for my response. This time, I won. And next time, I will win again.
I was looking at shampoo at Walmart one day. It was above 90 degrees outside, so I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I was facing the shampoo display, reading if it had the right ingredients in it, when a group of 5 guys came behind me and closed me in. They didn’t say anything, but I could feel them looking me up and down and getting closer. My dad walked around the corner of the aisle and scared them all off. If I hadn’t been there with him, I may have been groped or worse.
I am a 20-something living and working abroad.I live in a small village and must travel to a neighboring city to shop for food. Every time I go to this city I am hollered at in multiple languages and men make kissy noises at me. I have been followed on numerous occasions and grabbed by strange men a few times. I am in public areas during the day where other people see this happen, and no one does anything. No one says a word when I am running down the street from a man who keeps grabbing me and “wants to just talk.” Locals laugh it off as “well of course, you are foreign and they want to get papers.”
The organization I work for tells me not to travel alone and to just ignore it. I hate feeling afraid and having no allies near me to help me in this situation. I hate that I cannot have any kind of relationship or even a simple conversation with a man without him thinking I want to have sex with him. I have a male friend who lives a few hours from me and has offered to come shopping with me to hopefully reduce the amount of harassment, but I do not want to have to have a man with me for other men to leave me alone. I just want to be able to get food and go places on my own and not be afraid.