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I am sitting on a street car with my roommate, both of us women in our early twenties, recounting our day, and a man stands in the aisle behind us. The streetcar is nearly full, but not packed.
The man’s crotch grazes my arm. I suspect this is accidental, caused by the movement of the car and shift inwards a little, but the man continues to cause his crotch to make contact with my bare arm as the streetcar creeps to our destination. I shift so far inwards, that I am pressed against my roommate and twisted half sideways. She realizes what is happening and looks at the man disdainfully, he walks further down the streetcar.
I intermittently experience male sexual aggression on public transit in Toronto, making me feel like the Streetcar, the Subway and the Bus are all male spaces where I am not welcome or safe. Trapped in the small, confined cars as they move along streets and tunnels I almost never feel safe enough to say or do anything about it.
I was walking towards the courtyard of my office building in the middle of downtown. I spot two people, one man and one woman, sitting on one of the benches in the courtyard. I continue towards the building entrance and I notice that the man was angry with the woman. The woman was sitting very straight faced but looking away from him. He was inches from her face spitting as he spoke something I couldn’t quite understand until I got closer. He made eye contact with me as I was about to pass him “…I’d fuck that bitch…” (gesturing towards me). I was instantly angry. I was angry for her and myself. He was objectifying me AND her most likely. I thought I’d keep walking without creating a scene. But as I was about to go inside, I stopped. I turned around and in a defensive tone I yelled “EXCUSE ME?”. The man turned around to look at me, confused. I said “You don’t talk to me like that! You don’t say things like that to a woman.” He was shocked and began to mutter “Sorry, ma’am..” but I interrupted and hollered “Go fuck yourself!” and made my way to work.
We have a security guard at the front but he must not have noticed the incident. I walked past him and up the elevator to my office. I walked inside and looked out the window to the man and woman. She appeared to be fighting back now. A co-worker asked me what happened and I told him. He told me to inform the security guard. I went back downstairs and let the guard know there was a gentleman outside making lewd comments to young women passing by. He told me he’d take care of it and call the cops if he had to. I said it was all right. A couple female co-workers entered the building at that point and asked me if I was alright and relaxed me.
One of them told me I shouldn’t have responded to the man, saying he could have had a knife or weapon. I just thought to myself that I’d rather fight and stick up for myself then allow myself to be objectified and used.
Security came to tell me that he had kicked the man off the property and I wasn’t afraid to walk back to my car after work.
I was on my way back from the cinema with a (male) friend and were just getting to the Triangle. It was a Saturday night and there were a lot of rowdy drunks on the streets. I started to feel slightly apprehensive as I’ve been verbally harassed on the Triangle under the same circumstances before. There were a few men outside Illusions and as we got there one of them jumped up and blocked our path. He let my friend through but continued to block my way, forcing me into the road to try and get by. After this didn’t work I tried to get back on the pavement and firmly said “Let me get through”. He ignored this at which point my friend realised what was going on and came back for me. Apparently wishing to avoid an altercation the man begrudgingly let me get by. We walked away to the sound of him and his friends laughing at this hilarity.
I’m grateful my friend was with me because the man did not seem like he’d be willing to let me through otherwise and I don’t know what might have happened. It makes me angry that I need to be chaperoned in a city I love so much.
Today is the gay pride festival in Amsterdam, which is widely celebrated! But every year it gets used as an excuse to party and get drunk, and not as a celebration of acceptance and lgbtq’s. So the vibes on this day are never that great, but I decided to go out for an evening stroll anyway. I wanted to go out for 15 minutes or so, but I returned after 5, because in those 5 minutes I had been made to feel like shit.
I walked past a square where a party had just ended so it was emptying out. First a group of boys walked past me, way too close for it to be acceptable, and made a comment to me in French. FIFTEEN meters further a man in his late 20s came up to me, and started asking me why I was looking so angry and where I was going to. I felt pretty uncomfortable and annoyed, but I didn’t dare to tell him to just leave me alone. So I just answered his questions vaguely, while he made some pretty sexist comments to me. He claimed that if he could get a good look at me, he would be able to see if I was a lesbian, which disgusted me even more. After a couple of minutes I cut the conversation short and headed back to my house. One minute later, a thirty year old man said something about me being hot, and that he wanted to take me home. All of this happened in a distance of 200 meters.
In the day time street harassment doesn’t occur much here, but at night it can be pretty bad, this was just one of the many examples, ranging from rude comments to being followed. And the worst part? I’m 15.
The clothing we are required to dress in at the clothes store I worked at can be classified as skimpy. They give us these skirts, dresses, and shorts and expect us to climb ladders. I don’t own a skirt except the one I had to buy for work. I had guys look up my skirt all the time in Jr high so I never wore them. It was the end of December and I had come into work with a skirt, tank top, and a sweater on, cold, I may add..and the lights in the store make any location you are at very hot. Well this one girl, who works in the store with me, had her attire of a tank top and shorts. She was cold and I felt bad (I also was only working there for 2 months so I was trying to make friends) so I gave her my sweater. My manager stuck me in Dudes 1 (or the front room to greet people). When I greet people, I greet them with a smile and this guy I guess took it as though I were flirting with him. He stayed in my room for 30 mins just checking me out. Then the girl in Betty’s 1 (or the girls front room, which requires to have someone in it at all times) asked if I could watch her room while she runs to the bathroom. So I agreed. I was in her room for 20 minutes (little long to be at the bathroom) and the guy came into Betty’s 1. He was staring directly at me so I smiled and continued working. I was just standing there fixing a back table near the jean wall and he walked into the next room that was behind me. I thought it was odd that he was in the girls area but I had a lot of work to do so I shrugged it off. 5 seconds later he comes up behind me, gropes me underneath my skirt and says “see yah later baby”. As he was fast paced walking out of the store I yelled “You never treat a woman that way, ever!” And as soon as he stepped foot onto the porch the sirens were going off. My sprint to the door, tears streaming, and my manager on the other side of the porch looking at my tear stricken face as I tell him to, “Go get him!” And he sprints out the store as the guy is running down the mall with a smile on his face. The county police, THANKFULLY, were in the mall that day and helped my manager catch him. The guy ended up stealing 250 dollars worth of cologne. They brought him back to the store. No one knew what happened to me till I told the girl that was supposed to be in Bettys 1. She watched the room so I could go in the back and cry. My manager was MAD that that had happened to me and filled out papers about it and what not but nothing happened to the guy…he was the same age as me, 17 but 1 month short of 18, I had just turned 17…the part that angers me the most is that the store manager did not care. He never asked if I was okay but told me (not so sympathetically) that the guy was no longer allowed in the store..as if we were LOSING a customer. Friends at school, my family, co-workers, all made fun of me through November. I never wanted people at school or work to know but the girl, that I gave my sweater to, had told people I see everyday at school…everyone ended up finding out and taunted me. I couldn’t go into Dudes or Bettys 1 alone for a month without being nervous. Also, I never wear skirts or shorts to work anymore..only jeans. Regardless of what my attire is, that incident should not have happened in the work place!
I had a medical appointment in downtown Seattle. It was Valentine’s Day and my fiance was away on deployment with the Navy, so I didn’t get to see him that day. I had expected my dad to come pick me up when I was finished, but he cancelled on me at the last minute, so I had to take the Greyhound home, which meant I had to spend some time alone downtown when it was getting dark. I stopped in at Gameworks to play Dance Dance Revolution before my bus arrived, so I was a little sweaty on my walk back, which is about 6 blocks away. after about a block I walked by a guy who was clearly leering at me. I ignored it. As I rounded the corner on to Pine street someone in a truck sped past and screamed something dirty out the window at me. I flipped them off. I continued walking and then turned the corner on 7th, only to be met by another guy who started saying all sorts of inappropriate things to me. One of the things he said was “hey sugar, give me a valentine’s kiss”. that’s when I lost it, because it was bad enough to be missing my fiance on valentine’s day, but he had to rub it in. I told him “fuck you!” but he wouldn’t stop. so I sped up my pace. a woman nearby chewed him out saying he couldn’t say things like that to girls. she then tried to apologize to me on his behalf. He had no right to say that. I kept walking and left them behind. The hardest part through the whole thing was that I didn’t have anybody to call. My parents were busy and my fiance’s phone was disabled for deployment. none of my friends were picking up. I felt very alone.
Tonight I decided to go for a walk. It was not my best decision apparently. After being pissed off at a friend of a friend for rape jokes, I needed some air. On my walk, I encountered one man, who was certain I was “his babe” and thought I needed to know how much he found my butt attractive. I didn’t. I told this man to fuck off and continued on my walk. However, after reaching the beach to which I was headed, enjoying myself and returning upon my way, I spotted a rather sketch looking man. A man around 5’6 (I estimate), chubby, light brunette hair and plaid shorts. With his hands in them. I was hoping this man would simply continue on his way and I could do such as well. As I continued walking, however, the man decided to follow me. I walked faster, he walked faster. I crossed to the other side of the street, so did he. I took a knife out of my pocket and into my grip, he slowed a little, but did not cease following. And just as I was going to turn and confront this man, a group of college students around my age came upon the street and saw the man following me with his hands in his pants. They started yelling, he stopped, they continued, I walked faster, he did not follow. Unfortunately, just before making it to my house, I spotted him again, this time across the street though. I stopped on a neighbor’s porch, held my knife and waited. He left. I’m not sure if he saw me this time or not. But this was certainly not the walk I was looking for.
Ocean City is supposed to be a “family based town”. The entire island is alcohol free. You’d think just a simple 45 minute distant run would be no problem…nope! I started running for MAYBE 10 seconds but it didn’t matter because the verbal abuse started. I crossed the street and this car full of guys were yelling things at me like, “hey you in the pink sports bra” and “nice a**!”. Worst part of all was that my younger brothers were running behind me. This verbal abuse makes me not want to go out and exercise.
Apparently men have no age discrimination when it comes to harassment. I was taking a power-walk with my 25 year old sister and my 50-something year old mother. (I’m 22). We were coming up to a house that had three men that look like they were in their early 20’s, all washing the same car. I could feel the tension building as we walked up to them. As soon as we got within 3 feet of them one of them said “Hey ladies, can we walk with y’all?” and then all the guys started laughing. I said “No thanks,” and we kept walking. I felt their eyes burning into our backsides as we kept walking. I felt literally dirty after this happened, and embarrassed that it happened in front of my mother of all people.
As I walked past a group of 3 men, probably in their 30s, they started yelling, “Hey girl”, “Hey white girl”, “hey white girl in the black dress with the nice tits”…I continued to walk past them, trying to ignore them, but one stood up and walked after me saying, “what, are you racist or something? won’t talk to a black man?” I couldn’t remain silent any more…and I responded, “No. I don’t talk to people that objectify and disrespect me.” His cronies on the bench laughed, and he held his hands up and backed off.
Normally we do not post racial identifiers on this site, as per our anti discrimination policy. Exceptions include when the relevance of race is central to the story, as is the case in this post.