Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
One night I was walking home from the campus gym, caught up in my own head. As I hit the last sidewalk intersection on my way home I started hearing calls of “hey blue shorts…” the first three times I thought “god, I would be livid if someone was talking to me like that!” and looked in front of me for the blue shorts girl, but she wasn’t there. So I looked back, just a rowdy group of 6′ plus men hollering for Blue Shorts. Then it hit me. I looked down. My shorts were blue.
They kept it up, 5 and 6 times, calling out my hair style, asking if I was too good to talk to them, so I got pissed off. I spun around and let fly one of the nicest flows of cusswords I’ve ever made. I asked them how their mothers would feel, to know that their money was sending them to college so they could scare girls on the way home from the gym. I asked them if this was some f*cked up game to them, and then told them, with gusto to f*ck off. As I spun around they got irritated and told me that “bitch, I couldn’t talk to them like that” so I turned back and said “bitch yes I can! You yelled at me like a dog. I can say anything I like to you!” and stormed off to my dorm.
I was still terrified the whole last block, but I’ve never been harassed like that again.
Cab driver #640 picked me up, along the way he…
1) Waved his gun at me 2) Told me his “self help book” didn’t work, that he’d found it near impossible to in it’s suggestions to remain calm 3)Told me he “literally” wants to murder the next person to pay w/a credit card – in his shed, or he wants to put his pepper-spray in their mouth, lock them in the cab drive them to his house and kill them. 4) Told me I saved my own life by paying in cash, while his hand was cocked like a gun 5) Was twitching his head left & right because he’s crazy; while letting me know he wants to murder someone – while slamming the glass plate divider in anger 6) Told me Jesus wants him to kill people with credit cards – all the time 7) Told me his shed out in the suburbs tucks between his yard and the woods – so no on would see him kill 8) Told me “i don’t mean to scare you but…” followed by 5 minute rant about hurting people
Last weekend I was clubbing with friends and we decided to walk down the road to another club. As we left the club a man grabbed my wrist, spun me round to face him, and ground his crotch into my stomach, shouting all the while about how gorgeous I was and that I’m the perfect *size* for him. I just saw red. I shoved him and bit him and screamed bloody murder and my girlfriends joined in the attack. I struggled free and the bouncers outside the club made him step away. Dude proceeded to follow me and my girls most of the night still asking for my number.
It was my “Grad Nite” Senior trip to the Disney World Magic Kingdom. I’m writing this so other girls can be on the lookout when they go on the Haunted Mansion Ride. I was waiting for the ride to start with my girlfriends, when the lights went out (its part of the ride.) Some idiot grabbed my rear with both hands. I thought my friends had played a trick on me, but when the lights came on I turned around to see three men (probably also seniors) laughing and looking at me. They disappeared into the crowd. I was too shocked and embarrassed to do anything. My friend later told me I overreacted when I cried.
Some guy was following me on Bloor East (a very crowded street) and gesturing to his dick, saying how big it was. In a very loud voice, I said “what a loser! Is this the only way you can get women to talk to you? You need an empty sock!” He backed right off. A few people clapped and a lot of people whooped. I heard a “you go, girl” before ducking into the subway.
Last weekend, I went to a goth night at a gay club**. This is an environment where I feel safe and accepted. I can dress provocatively and expect respect in the appreciative glances I may get. I can flirt and dance and express myself, including my sexuality, and not be thinking the whole time about whether or not anyone will think it gives them the right to claim me as theirs, or that if someone does I’m “asking for it”. I can expect backup and support from total strangers if someone gets too aggressive on the dance floor.
But this doesn’t apply to the walk between where my friend and I parked and the club.
On the way back to the car, a group of guys gave some glances and a “hey girl” and an “I like your hair” comment to us. It shouldn’t matter. It should feel respectful and appreciative – they didn’t say anything lewd; I like my hair tonight too. But it didn’t feel that way. It put my hackles up. It made me think “we need to walk faster”. It made me think “I’m wearing vinyl pants, clearly anyone would think I’m asking for whatever happens next. Never mind the corset they can’t see under my coat”. It made me think “Priority one is protecting my friend”, who is a few years younger and who had thigh-high fishnets and garters showing under a short skirt – probably an easier target than the pants. It made me think “which is less likely to escalate this – ignoring them, making a snide remark, or saying ‘thanks’?”.
It made me think “They’re black, we’re white. God why does that matter? Why does that make me more uncomfortable?”*
It made me think of all the times similar things have happened in my life – creepy drunk guy sitting down right next to me late at night on an otherwise empty L car in Chicago and putting his hand disturbingly close to the hem of my skirt(I got up and switched cars at the next stop); crazy addicts commenting on the size of my breasts at the train station near the meth clinic in my hometown (I’d go into the coffee shop in the station and risk missing the train; I might add this happened many times and I was usually wearing baggy tee shirts and jeans, and clearly a minor); an old Buick slowing down next to me and a group of female friends walking around our hometown after dark, rolling down the window, asking how much for a good time (we laughed and kept walking; thankfully he drove off; again, tees and jeans, young girls).
It made me think all of this strategic, defensive thinking, and all of these flashbacks, in a split second.
I said “Thanks” over my shoulder as we kept walking, and we all went on our ways without any further interaction.
*Sorry, I read the anti-discrimination bit after sending in my story. I do think the race of the “harrassers” is relevant, because it speaks to a culture and society where I have been trained to have a more adverse reaction based on race (the point of my story is that the whole situation was pretty much harmless, but past experiences and societal training made it raise my hackles), which is sad and makes me angry at society and myself, but I understand the complexities of that may not be apparent in my story and am totally fine with it being edited out.
**I also think that the club I was at being a gay club is relevant because it’s a factor that contributes to my feeling safe there, but the more important factor is that it is a goth club, which is a community where I have found sexuality at a high combined with harrassment at a low, and thus I am ok with the fact that it is also a gay club being edited out.
I enjoy running, especially during exam time, which happens to be the peak of summer. As such, running in a tank top and shorts seems to be the obvious choice (not that it matters what I was wearing, I still don’t deserve to be treated like a piece of meat!).
Anyway, as I came round a corner during one of my runs, a dog came up and, as they do, started to sniff my crotch. I gently pushed his head away, and gave him a small pat. His owner came up, scanned me up and down, and because I was wearing an ipod (but didn’t actually have my music on- I use it as an excuse to not stop and talk to people) decided it was ok to say “Fuck, I don’t blame him for getting under there. I want to be there too.”
Excuse me?! You may have not thought I was able to hear you, but that still gives you no right to say it!
I am a foreign student at an American university. One night, I went with friends to a fraternity lodge for a party. I was expecting to have fun, to dance, maybe even have a little drink from one of the red cups which are so prevalent in American college movies. What happened was rather different. First, let me be clear- we do not grind where I am from, we dance. Close together, yes, but the participants face each other. In grinding, if a man and a woman are dancing, the man is *behind* the woman, so that they are positioned his front to her back.
I started dancing with my friends in an area where there was slightly more space, but a guy came up behind me, grabbed me really hard at my waist, still from behind, and started grinding himself into my tailbone. His hands were pressing me against him so hard that I couldn’t get out- I’m short and his arms were stopping my arms from giving him a good elbowing. Then he put his hand on my breast, and I tried to swat him away. It worked. He moved his hand down to my skirt and under it. I was wearing tights, but still- nothing should be under my skirt if i don’t want it to be there! This time when I swatted him away he didn’t budge. Finally, he let me go after about 20 minutes of groping; I never even saw his face. My American (girl) friend thought I was being prudish. I went home and cried. I felt dirtied and cheap.
I went to New York with a friend who had a conference in the city. One day while she was in a meeting, I decided to grab a taxi and explore a little by myself. I had $50 and my phone, and that was it. As I exited my hotel and started to walk towards a larger street to hail a cab, a man walking the other way turned around and started whispering things near my ears. “Damn baby, you hot as hell, look at your sexy self… I’d do so many things to that little body…” I’m 18 and am often mistaken for 14 or 15. I turned around and said “I’m sorry, do you care that I’m 15?” In retrospect, if he had said no, I would have been in even more trouble than I already was. He simply looked at me with a deer-caught-in-headlights look, turned around, and walked away.
Once I’d shrugged him off, I hailed a cab. Being unfamiliar to NYC, when I told the cabby Times Square and he said “I’ll take the JFK (I think JFK…maybe), it’s faster” I said okay. $19.50 and half an hour later, we arrived at the edge of the Square and I said “You know what, here is good. I’ll take 50 cents in change.” As I gave him a $20. He muttered “Crazy bitch.” as I opened the door and began to exit. I climbed back in and said “You ripped me off. A ride from my hotel to Times Square should have been $10. Peace.” After enduring both these within half an hour, and many more as I walked through Times Square, it made me wonder. Why should I have to put up with this?
One night I decided to walk the twenty minutes to my home from the Skytrain Station. It was past midnight and the buses were not running, and I didn’t want to have to pay for a taxi. However, the route that I was taking went through the neighbourhood of Whalley in Surrey, BC, which is known for a high rate of crime and drug users.
I started walking and tried to be extra aware of my surroundings, since I was alone on a dark and empty area. A few minutes later, a car going in the same direction slowed down behind me. This happened awhile ago, but I seem to recall that the vehicle was a taxi with a number of men inside. I continued walking, now angry with myself for being alone in this situation. Meanwhile the car slowly crept along beside me. Someone in the group asked me if I wanted to get into the car with them.
Without stopping, I took a deep breath and yelled out “NO!!” in a very loud and firm voice. I was relieved to see the car drive away and I was left by myself again.
Once I arrived home, I told the event to my boyfriend and he was upset and concerned, saying he was glad that I was okay, but that things could have turned out much worse. He cautioned me not to go walking at night by myself.
I do think that it is wise to avoid risky situations (particularly walking alone at night). At the same time, it’s sad how women are told to be more careful and often women are blamed if an assault does occur. The aggressors are the people who need to take responsibility of their actions– they need to realize the harmful impact of street harassment!