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I was visiting my home town in Denver, CO. and my girlfriends decided to take me out to dinner and drinks afterward. While we were at a local bar, some random guy slaps my butt twice. I turned around the first couple of times to a few guys saying, “It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me, it was him!” So I said sternly, “Look, whoever it is, quit it.” I turned around just in time to see where the third slap was coming from. Once I caught the guy red handed, I slapped him hard across his silly face and asked how he now felt to be touched inappropriately. He just looked away; not even one sorry breathed from his mouth. His friend apologized for his bad behavior but drinking isn’t an excuse for disrespecting others. I’m sure he felt dumb, girls and guys were snickering at him. I probably wouldn’t have slapped him if I was alone with him but there was a crowd and I felt like it was a safe place to do so.
I have many, many stories on shouting and verbal harassment – but the one I will share is the only physical one.
Walking on my own to meet some friends at the theatre, I passed a man on my way down the road into town. I saw him look at me – never mind. then I quickly became aware that he had turned around behind me and was following. I knew something was coming and clutched my umbrella tight in one hand and bag in the other, thinking he might try to snatch it. But no! Instead I felt him touch my behind and comment ‘nice bum yeah’. Like lightning I whipped around and hit my umbrella at him, shouting “WHAT THE F*** DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”. It worked – he ran away – but hey, it still ruined my night.
Unfortunately, harassment is frequent in the area, which is a known vice district with prostitutes walking the streets. I have had cars pull up and ask me if I’m ‘looking for business’ (not seeming to care that I’m wearing a coat, hat mittens, jeans and carrying a huge bag), which is always a bit scary.
It’s a rare day that a man on Adeline doesn’t express sexual interest in me when I walk to and from work. Listening to my iPod and wearing sunglasses doesn’t dissuade them, either. Today I passed a group of about five men and every single one of them felt the need to shout something to me as I passed. It kept going until finally I stopped and turned around to face them.
Usually I’ll drop some foul language that my mother would hate and nearly start a fight. But today I think my guard was down because I am getting over a cold and simply exhausted, plus I was just overwhelmed by the tidal wave of sexually aggressive macho attitude. Instead of cussing, I said, “stop commenting on my appearance, it’s really rude.” It actually made them speechless.
I really hate that in my own neighborhood, I can’t see a man on the street without thinking to myself, “oh great, what’s he going to say?”
I try to avoid taking the San Diego MTS trolley and buses for that matter because of the rampant undesirable, creepy, criminalistic men who take the trolley. These men will come and try to sit next to me when there are lots of open seats, when this happens, i just move to another seat and sit by a woman who seems sane or if there aren’t any available safe seats, I stand until I reach my destination. These men stare at you, undress you with their eyes, try to start a conversation with you, their attention is totally unwanted. The trolley and bus is not a great ave place to meet men, usually these men have criminal records, do not drive because they owe back child support, are extremely unattractive, unintelligent and do not have legitimate income. I loathe taking public transportation because these are the only types of men you will run into. They know that they have no chance, they are totally out of their league. I have learned to be assertive and not afraid to shout at them to stay the hell away from me if they are persistent, this usually works.
I got in a taxi at LAX and told the guy where I was going. It was within a few blocks and he told me I wouldn’t meet the minimum fare requirement. I asked what my options were and he didn’t answer me and started driving. I asked again and he started yelling at me about how I should’ve researched better before coming to LA. He was then very rude to me for the duration of the trip.
We got to the hotel and he told me that he only had $1 change. I asked why he didn’t tell me that before, since I was already going to be paying so much more money than the meter said. He started screaming at me again saying things like “I came to the airport for a $50-$60 fare and I got YOU!” I took out my $20 and tried to give it to him, but he couldn’t stop yelling long enough to take it. So I threw it in the front seat and asked for my dollar. Admittedly, this was rude on my part, but at this point I had been screamed at for quite some time. Well, it infuriated him and he started screaming more about the bullshit I was giving him and told me to get the fuck out of his cab. I very calmly told him there was no reason to have been so rude to him and got out.
As I was walking away he rolled down his window and said
“I hope somebody rapes you, you little bitch.”
Easter Monday in the Czech Republic: Not All Women Are Celebrating
by Martina Čermáková
Not too rarely, you’ll find the Czech Easter whipping tradition in one of those stories on odd holiday traditions featured in the corky-news section. From my experience, anyone who’s just learnt about the spanking of girls and women with braided willow sticks (pomlázkas) that goes down on Easter Monday will see it as that: an awkward cultural mainstay that’s probably no fun for the female population.
Within the Czech Republic, though, the pagan tradition of boys and men whipping females in exchange for eggs and ribbons doesn’t seem nowhere near as disputable as foreigners might deem it… read more
I was driving home the morning after a really fantastic party at a girlfriend’s house. On my trip a cute guy in a truck passed me. We made eye contact and both smiled and started sort of interacting on the highway. We pulled over and said hello and he more or less asked me to hook up with him. I was completely offended, rejected him outright, got back in my car, and drove away. He quickly caught up with me. I couldn’t lose him. He mouthed words and gestured to let me know he was masturbating. It was disgusting the way he was leering at me while stalking me down the road. It still makes my skin crawl; I can’t remember what he looked like but I remember clearly the way he looked, if that makes sense.
I first want to say that this is just one saturday night and this is not atypical from any other night any time from 6pm to 6am although harassment is common (sadly) during the day too.
As two friends and I (all three of us female) walked down King St. at about 1:30 pm in Charleston last weekend. During our walk there were at least 20 separate incidents of verbal harassment from men who were drunk leaving the bars.
The first man pretended his pretzel was a blunt of marijuana and offered it to my friend. When she refused, knowing it was food, he and his friends shouted “bitch” after us.
The next comment was about 20 seconds later by a group of guys who tried to convince us to stay with them so they could “show us a good time”. One guy even put his arm around my friend while she was trying to pass.
Next, after 1 block, a guy pointed at the three of us and his friend yelled out “the one on the left”, another said “i call the right” and another yelled “i want the middle”. They were obviously talking about having sex with us.
After this one man told my friends that he would only get out of laying in the road in front of traffic if she kissed him, got up while she was crossing the road, and grabbed her waist pulling her in an opposite direction. She got away quickly because the man was drunk and we moved down the street.
Another block down a man pointed at me and told me that I was going home with him that night.
These are specific things they said besides the other catcalls and disgusting comments. We were called sluts three times walking down the street because we ignored the guy’s comments and attempts at touching us.
This behavior is disgusting and frequent in the charleston area and women need to be aware of the danger that can be present in the city or on the College of Charleston campus.
This morning, I took the L train. I had just come from having a wonderful cup of coffee at cute bakery near my boyfriend’s apartment. I was happy when I headed home, though I was mildly annoyed by the ever-jarring automated voice that narrates subway travel.
I was almost home when we stopped at the Lorimer stop and the train doors opened. I saw a man standing on the platform turn around and pull his penis out. He smiled at me and waved it in my direction.
The ever-jarring voice then became my savior. “Stand clear of the closing doors, please,” it said it in it’s non-change human-esque manner.
The man put his “personals” back in and stepped back quickly and creepily smiled at me.
He was lucky that time.
This is the second time I’ve been flashed this year. I’ve been licked by strangers, verbally assualted, holla’ed at, and groped by countless people.
As many of you may know, there is a new MTA plan in the works to change the SubTalk messages concerning sexual harassment, which will add a needed component of bystander involvement to the current message: “Sexual Harassment is a Crime in the subway, too – A crowded train is no excuse for an improper touch. Don’t stand for it or feel ashamed, or be afraid to speak up. Report it to an MTA employee or police officer.” As a frequent rider of New York City mass transit, I’ve been aware of these signs since they were put up in 2008, and my initial reaction was “Wow, how have I managed to dodge that bullet time and again? If the MTA feels the need to create a campaign like this, there must be a serious problem.” Irony, of all ironies.
The MTA’s new public service message will reportedly expand on the pithy “If you see something, say something” campaign, by asking bystanders to get involved and report cases of harassment that they witness. This new approach will be such a refreshing change from the burden always being on the victim or potential victim to protect herself.
In my own situation, I was extremely grateful and fortunate to have the support of my fellow passengers. At one point during the incident, I had to yell “Men, guard the doors!”, which I think made it very clear to everyone within earshot that we were dealing with a dangerous individual that needed to be contained until law enforcement could take over. Without the help of other passengers, the perpetrator would definitely have gotten away with it, just to do it again to someone else. Not only did bystanders help to detain him in that car, they also took my lead and photographed him, shaming him as they did so, which made me feel safer and not so alone in dealing with the situation.
But the unfortunate thing is that I had to make quite a scene, and demand the help I needed from others. It was not immediately forthcoming, and certainly not offered to me. My feeling is that someone else who would not feel as confident speaking up as I did would have had a serious problem seeing justice done on that day. And justice was indeed done, with conviction and deportation of the perpetrator. A definitive result like that shows the power of a compassionate and involved citizenry. However, this outcome was sadly not the norm. What if I hadn’t spoken up about it? Then it might have been business as usual that day, as in “let’s pretend that didn’t happen, and move on with our day.” I’m all for moving on with our day and our lives, but not for playing pretend, which doesn’t help anyone. In fact, this is how sex crimes become normalized.
Many times, an individual is being victimized on mass transit without their knowledge, and the MTA’s most recent initiative will, I believe, be a turning point in combating the problem. More eyes to see what is going on, and a greater sense of overall awareness of the immediate surroundings will no doubt help. If we are to put a stop to this egregious behavior once and for all, so that we may truly call ourselves a civilized society, bystanders must be willing to step up and take some measure of responsibility for the individuals surrounding them, whether they have a personal relationship to them or not.
If a person could just imagine themselves or their loved ones in a similarly terrible situation, they might think of their own need for support from others around them. Empathy is what is called for here. For too long, many have tried to turn the other way and ignore what has been going on right in front of their own eyes, and the MTA campaign now makes it clear, that this issue will not just go away if we continue to “play ostrich” with it. Bravo, MTA ~ you’ve made a step in the right direction.
To submit a question to Nicola for next Monday’s post, please email it to her here.