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I had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Morocco for about nine months and had been putting up with all kinds of harassment: groping, cat-calls, even a stalker. Once a man asked me, in Arabic, “how much?” as I walked past him, thinking I wouldn’t understand. Everyone I talked to about it kept telling me to ignore it, but this was easier said than done.
One afternoon, while walking home from work at the youth center, I heard smooching and kissing noises waft toward me from across the street. I looked up to see a skinny punk kid, maybe 15-years-old, smiling at me, then continuing to make the noises.
I don’t know what it was about this PARTICULAR incident, but I lost it. Before I knew what I was doing, I had stormed across the street and was in his face yelling at him in Arabic. “Why do you do that? Do you think I like it? What would your mother say? I’m a nice girl and you’ve never even met me.”
The kid was so bewildered, he just kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over again. At the moment I felt like I had done some good in making at least one kid understand that this kind of behavior isn’t okay, but it just wasn’t enough. I eventually left Morocco under severe stress from constant harassment.
Yesterday (Sunday, June 5th 2011) I was at a party at the Angelic Pretty store in San Francisco. Angelic Pretty is a brand of Japanese “lolita style” clothing–basically, frilly dresses worn with lavish accessories and cute shoes and bags. Periodically they have parties for their loyal customers. There were about 25 girls and women ranging in age from 14 to 47 wearing frilly dresses playing party games like Old Maid and candy toss, drinking tea and lemonade and eating pancakes with fruit. Sounds pretty innocent right?
Yet some creep came up to the front door of the store and stared at us, then started taking pictures of us without asking. I unfortunately don’t have a pic to go with this story because my bag was halfway across the room and when he saw that we had noticed him, he ran off, but the girl sitting next to me, one of the girls he snapped, was FOURTEEN. What a creep. I didn’t let it ruin my day, but it’s always a great experience to be having a fun time with other women and be reminded that there are people in the world who view us as consumables. He’s lucky my parasol wasn’t in reach by the time I got to the door.
Me: Did you just take a picture of my ass with your phone?
This Idiot: Heh heh heh – Awe, you caught me, ma.
Idiot: Heh heh heh – C’mon, ma. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to share something so amazing. [wink]
Me: Wow. Seriously?
Idiot: C’mon, what do you expect? You should be proud.
Me: What you just did is NOT flattering – it’s offensive, and really f*cking rude.
Idiot: Awe. Don’t be like that, ma. Want me to delete it?
Me: [Giving him the “WTF do you think?!” face.]
(Two stops later…)
Idiot: So now you takin’ pictures of me?
Me: You can’t blame a girl for wanting to share something so ridiculous.
I was coming back home from a friend’s house at around midnight. I always make sure to pause my iPod whenever I’m walking home by myself, so that I’m completely aware of my surroundings. I had even thought numerous times of what I would do if someone were to follow me home…but nothing prepared me to the reality of hearing foot steps and the fear of knowing that I was actually being followed.
I had seen him at a distance, walking drunkenly across the street, then turning right where I needed to turn. I lost sight of him, and thought “I’m almost home, just this one block…” but then there he was.
He sees me. He crosses the street towards me. My hoodie is up, and I’m wearing the biggest sweatpants I own. I’m thinking, “This guy cant even possibly make up my shape or features in this…”
I’m barely breathing at this point, completely aware that he is following me, I follow my “planned” protocol. I turn and look at him square in the eye, pulling down my hoodie with confidence and giving him a clear “What the hell are you doing?” look.
I turn back and walk faster…I’m almost home…
He is still following me. He starts demanding for my phone. I say I don’t have one, but I’m gripping it tightly in my pocket, just in case I have to hit him in the head with it. He keeps yelling at me and I panic. I start running. HE RUNS AFTER ME! At this point I’m completely terrified.
Then he cuts me off right in front of the stairs leading to my door, keeping me from going in and yells at me “Give me your phone!”
I see the light is on inside my house and yell “HELP!”. My boyfriend and sister come out almost immediately, and the guy starts threatening my boyfriend. I find a way around this guy and run up the stairs as my boyfriend kicks the guy square in the chest and runs back up to see if I’m alright.
I don’t know if the guy just walked away after that, cause I went in to call the cops and wouldn’t dare look out the window. A police report was filed, even though they said ‘this was probably just some crazy guy, following a pretty girl’ story.
Unfortunately/Fortunately, I am 1,000 times more aware of how men on the street look at me now. In the past week after the incident, I have been followed once, and harassed on the bus/street daily. While I could have responded with more courage before this incident, now I feel (I hate* to admit it) but I feel vulnerable.
I found your website in search of answers on how to deal with this. But just writing what happened helps!
Here’s the description on YouTube:
“A short film about street harassment that was researched, designed, scripted, filmed, directed and edited by volunteers from Initi8 at Nottingham Trent University with guidance and support from Gill Court at Platform 51 Nottingham. The film was inspired by Nottingham’s International Women’s Day events with the aim of raising awareness of street harassment of women and how it makes them feel.”
It appears that the revolution will be televised! (On YouTube anyway).
Video reposted with thanks from Stop Street Harassment
So over the years I must have hundreds of stories of sexual harassment, catcalling, stalking ect. However I only have one story that truly haunts me, probably because it’s the most disgusting I’ve ever experienced.
When I was in 6th grade, my friend and I went to the library to do a school project. We didn’t have to do it at the library but I guess we just enjoyed the thrill of feeling old and cool being somewhere without our parents. Anyways, my friend and I were wondering around the library browsing through the shelves and giggling when we see an boy much older than us (I’m assuming he was 19-20..we were only like 12) We noticed him following us but brushed it off, thinking we were imagining it. However when we kept seeing him all over, we both started getting panicky. At one point he was right next to us, mouthing sexual comments. We still were in shock and had no idea what to do. We told the librarian but she was totally clueless and brushed it off. After seeing us go to the librarian, he backed off, which gave us time to run back up to the chidren’s section and call my mother. She called us when she was outside but we were too petrified to come outside (we’d have to walk down two fights of stairs alone.) Seconds later, she came running up. We explained what had happened and she calmly escorted us out of the building. Once we get outside.. who do we see? The creep from earlier. What shocked me the most was how it didn’t even phase him my mother was with us. He continued to stare us down and then he lifted up his baggy shirt and exposed himself. I believe his penis was out the whole time but had managed to concealed it. This guy honestly exposed himself to two 12 year olds and a parent right in front of a public library! Absolutely disgusted and petrified my mother called the police and we filed a report. We never heard of anything happening with the creep and the police didn’t seem to think there was anything they could do since it was “he said she said”, so he got off the hook. Needless to say, I never returned to that library. I still wonder if I was the only girl that happened to..
This happened a while ago (in 2005). At that time I lived next to the university campus which was rather a safe place. That evening on my way home from the nearby grocery store, I was carrying a heavy bag of groceries and another bag of papers and books from school. I was walking along in my own muse when I saw a guy in mid-20s on his bike coming towards me. I didn’t think twice about it. But then as he got closer I found him staring at me. As he passed me by, he yelled, “Too bad you are not white.” I have been catcalled many times before and since then on three different continents. But I am always caught by surprise and disgusted by it. This time though, I was just too perplexed by the comment to even figure out the meaning right away.
Later when I told my roommate and a couple of white friends about it, they said it was perhaps meant as a compliment on my good looks. Right, an unsolicited “compliment” on my appearance while putting my skin color down.
The night before Memorial Day, I was walking to the bar to meet my brother for some celebratory drinks. I walk past these two guys, one of whom sizes me up and starts saying really vulgar things like “you’re looking juicy tonight”. I walk past but then thought of hollaback and felt like I needed to call this guy out on his behavior.
So I turn around, walk up to him, and say, “What did you just say to me?”. He’s like “I’m just letting you know that I like what I see”. I went off and told him that he should not talk to me like that. That he should not talk to anyone like that. His face turned and he immediately started saying “you better walk the fuck away, you stupid bitch”. I called him out further and repeated that he couldn’t talk to people like that, and would he want someone talking to his mother or sister like that? He went on with his tirade of insults, calling me “A fat cunt”, where I retorted that he really needed to look in the mirror before he calls anyone that. He went on saying homophobic stuff, telling me that I was a fat dyke, that I was stupid cunt…etc etc” I finally just walked away and told him to go fuck himself. He shouted at me “Go eat some pussy you fucking cunt”. I shouted back that “That’s more than you’re going to be doing tonight, asshole!”
I was shaking with anger at the end. I’ve never met someone who turned into something that ugly so quickly. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to both call him out and publicly humiliate him like I did. I only wish I got a picture of his face.
Anyway, in conclusion, I know I shouldn’t have stooped to insulting him back, but it felt so good to call him out instead of kicking myself later on for not having said something.
He said, She said, in New York City
This is the phrase most often used to describe the implied non-credibility of an allegation of sexual assault. It suggests that an accusation of this nature is either false, or dubious at the very least, because of a lack of evidence to the contrary. Now I must ask you, how many women throughout history have had to go through this special brand of humiliation after being targeted for attack? How many women do you personally know who have had to go through not just the trauma of the event itself, but then the callous aftermath? I know plenty, and thank the stars above that I was not numbered among them when I told my own story to law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office, back in September, and then the public, in November. But consider a recent event in our city:
A drunken woman was helped into her apartment by two New York City police officers, whom she later accused of raping her. Her incapacity aside, it was highly suspect for these two individuals to not only help her inside, but “cuddle” with her while she lay half-clothed in an altered state, and then to be seen (by security cameras) going back into her apartment no less than three times, with one of the officers accused of standing guard outside. Three times?!? I know I’m not alone in my disgust at this situation.
And say that the young woman did “come on” to one of the officers. We all know that inhibitions can slide when one is inebriated ~ but what were the officers’ excuses? As police officers, presumably in full control of their own faculties at the time, they needed to at the very least be concerned with even the appearanceof impropriety. In short, they left themselves open to this type of allegation by being alone with her, in the private confines of her apartment. So either A) The officers were obtuse beyond belief, or B) He/they did assault her. One of the officers did actually admit later in the trial to having protected sex with her, but witnesses who saw the young woman earlier in the evening said that she was extremely drunk and was not sober enough to consent to sex. In fraternity houses across the nation, there have always been young men who’ve seen fit to take advantage of their tipsy dates, and women know to be wary of going into a situation like that (which, by the way, still would not excuse an assault under those circumstances by one iota). But the young woman in question here was in the comfort and presumed safety of her own home. So what really happened here?
It seems to me, as well as prosecutors, that if she was that ill, an ambulance should have been called, or that EMS should have been present for the subsequent visits to her. While New York City police officers are highly capable in many respects, and do receive basic medical training, I think a hospital or at least a clinic would have been a safer environment in which to handle alcohol poisoning, if that was indeed the case.
I, as well as many others observing this case again feel afraid for being at the mercy of the “He said, She said,” and perhaps we will never know what really transpired. I know what I feel about it ~ and it’s not good. In my opinion, there is one more chance at justice here, with the woman’s $57 million dollar lawsuit against the city, and the officers.
This happened to my best friend, not me, but I have submitted personal stories here before. I was on the phone with my friend when this happened. We are both fourteen.
She lives in a fairly suburban community. She was walking down to street to go to the neighborhood’s annual festival a few days ago, and happened to be talking to me on her cell-phone. I heard this happen. She is a bit heavier than me, but very beautiful, dresses well, and wears makeup far better than I.
As she was walking, a car full of four guys in their early twenties screamed at her “FAT BITCH!” and drove away laughing.
This is not acceptable at all.
It’s disgusting that a fourteen year old girl who’s already self-conscious can have this happen to her in a seemingly “friendly” area.