The Movement, Verbal

Emmaline’s story: Fifteen and pissed!

First off, may I say that I am 15 years old, and I have been harassed on the street since I was 12 years old! My most memorable experiences:
I was 12 and walking back from a Neighbourhood festival with a friend of mine and this beat up pickup truck drove by; some 40-something year old guy with a cowboy hat honked, and leaned out the window to shout some obscene remark to us and took off.
Two summers ago (age 14), I had finished up a play at the local high school, and a friend and I were walking to a Culvers a few blocks over. It was about 10:30pm and we had one block of a dark, deserted street. This Honda Pilot drove down the street, and we saw the driver look out his window, slow down, and deliberately whistle at us. He then drove to the end of the street, made a U-turn, and drive even more slowly past us AGAIN, and whistled once more. Luckily the director of the play pulled up next to us and asked if we wanted a ride, so we didn’t have to risk him passing us again.
This past summer (age 15), I was at a metro bus transfer point and was waiting for my mother to pick me up, and some guy started to walk towards me. The alarms went off in my head, so I grabbed my bag and walked to the Walgreens across the street. Lo and behold – he followed! I tried to trip him up by weaving randomly through several aisles, but he still followed. I finally ducked into the bathroom for about 10 minutes and waited till he left. He never said anything, but that was the creepiest part!
About two months ago (still 15) I was taking a bus out to my theater (I’m in a youth Shakespeare group) with a friend to watch a rehearsal because we had school off, and this guy was on the bus. At first he overheard us talking about the theater and asked some polite questions, but then he started asking our names and where we went to school, and it felt too personal. I shortly afterwards became homeschooled, and take a bus out to the school each day for a chemistry class. I saw him again frequently, and he would always smile and stare at me, and stand or sit in a way so as to always have a clear view. One time, in a nearly empty bus, he sat down right in front of me, then turned his entire torso around to face me, and smiled at me while staring at my chest. It wasn’t a glance, either – this stare was for several minutes! He never said anything, and didn’t touch, but his very presence and the way he was blatantly staring just made me feel violated. I finally told him “Okay, stop.” And got up to get off the bus (thankfully my stop wasn’t to far after he got on. I haven’t seen him since, but the experience always sticks with me as my creepiest.
A very recent one (this past Friday), I was on State Street with my dad and sister to see a movie as part of the Wisconsin Film Festival. It was about 9 at night, and we had stopped in a little market to buy my sister something to eat, and I stood near the door looking at magazines. As I was flipping through one, I heard something along the lines of “come here, sexy!”, I look up and there are some college age guys passing the door and staring at me. When they saw that I heard them, another leers at me and calls out “HHEEEEYYOOO” and they leave. It was unnerving – even if they couldn’t see my dad – that this would happen when I was with family, and even more that my dad didn’t hear it.

Other less creepy ones, but still unnerving nonetheless was when actors of my theater gather to perform scenes on Capital Square (during the Farmer’s Market) in order to advertise the Theater, there have been several instances when an elderly man would walk up and give me money – to “support the arts” they say – while leering at my chest. Some old sweaty man was staring a friend and my chests while trying to find out our schools and where we live. We brushed him off.
Also, once, when I was still in school, I was walking to my health class, and there were two classmates of mine and some random other friend of theres sitting on the floor in the hallway. I was wearing a dress that day, and the random guy leaned forward, then looked at my face and asked my name. I realized he had looked up my skirt (sucks for him – I wear shorts under all dresses or skirts).
One time I was at the mall and I went to a store in the food court to buy some water. I didn’t have the right amount of money with the tax added in (about 50 cents short), so I was trying to say “nevermind” and go somewhere else, when the guy insisted to chip in for me and wished me “a nice day, gorgeous” as I left. Slightly flattering if by someone my age who I knew, but out-of-line in the circumstance.
Last one: When I was still in public school, I was walking back to class from the bathroom, and there was this kid (freshman) standing in the hall with a friend of his. As I passed, he said “hey” and I responded accordingly. He then proceeded to plant himself in my path, forcing me to stop, and asked me how I was. I shortly replied that I was fine, annoyed by then. Not getting the message, he then decided to inform me that “I like how you mooove” in a ridiculous voice, making it clear he had been watching my ass as I had was walking by him. I gave him a dirty look and went around him, and that was the end of it.

I don’t get where men have decided that now, today, in the 21st Century, women are to be treated as pieces of meat solely there for the male viewing pleasure, and that we don’t care when we are catcalled, whistled, followed, “complimented” and in any other way violated. It’s awful that it’s become so ingrained in society that when I confided in a friend, she told me to “flip him off, laugh and let it be. It happens”. It happens BECAUSE we let it be! Unfortunately none of my incidents had been easy to report – or reportable at all, in the eyes of the cops – or had happened to quickly for me to actually berate, so they’ve gone without punishment.

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Kate’s story: Ruined run

Last Friday after work I decided to go for a run, it was a cool evening and it was starting to rain, which quickly turned to sleet and then light snow. I was less than a 1/4 mile into my run when I heard yelling — my ipod was between songs, otherwise I might have missed the specifics of it. There was a guy (I am assuming high school age) leaning out the window of a car on the other side of the street who screamed out, “Nice ass………WHORE!!!!!!!!!” I have to be honest, it wasn’t just the words that upset me, it was also how he said it — there was anger in his tone, and it felt threatening.

I tried to shake it off as just a bunch of immature kids with poor judgment and kept running.

Maybe a mile later I was on Beacon St in Cambridge when the same car drove by me again with this guy again hanging out the window screaming at me — I had my ipod cranked up so I don’t know what he said but the tone was, again, unmistakably angry & threatening. I was freaked out that this was the 2nd time they’d driven by me, and I was getting into less residential neighborhoods where there were fewer people on the streets — I had visions of the next time they drove past me, what if they pulled over? got out of the car? pulled me into the car?? I decided to listen to my gut, cut my run short, and turn around & head back for more populated streets & home.

Unfortunately I was not wearing my glasses & did not get the license plate #. I am getting over this but had an anxiety dream about it Friday night that involved me being cornered by a large man and calling for help that never came. I remain disturbed by the fact that somewhere, somehow, the boys/men in that car learned that harassing & threatening a woman in this way is somehow ok.

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Nonverbal Harassment

Anonymous’ story: TRUST KIDS’ INSTINCTS

When I was 13 or 14 my parents and I moved to a new home and had a party to meet the neighbours. One of the neighbours (a middle-aged Caucasian man with curly white hair named David) introduced himself to my family, and took particular interest in me. He shook my hand and didn’t let go until my mom stepped in and made the situation awkward.

Later I was sitting out on the patio with some of the adults and he came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders, dug his face into my hair, sniffed, and said “I can tell you just washed your hair, Megan” (which was not my name). As a 19-year-old looking back on the situation now, I cannot believe that the other adults didn’t point out how incredibly inappropriate it was for an adult to smell a strange child’s hair, especially seeing as most of the adults that were present were parents themselves.

Later still he approached me to talk when the other adults had left the room, and got much too close for comfort. He was trying to invite me to come over to his house (by myself) so I could “help him walk his dog” or “work in his garden”, and every time I took a step backward to reclaim my personal space, he would take a step forward until I was backed up against a wall with no where to go.

When I told my parents about David’s behaviour, my mom told me she got an uneasy feeling around him as well, then went online to find out if he was a registered sex offender (he wasn’t as far as we know). My father, on the other hand, said that he was “just being friendly” and that “there couldn’t be anything wrong with him because he has a PhD and works as a professor at a nearby university”. I think that just goes to show how little men have to worry about this kind of stuff. Must be nice.

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Silvia crespo gonzales’ story: Street harassment in Peru

Salgo de mi casa, estoy apurada, no tengo temores, mi único afán es llegar al paradero sana, para poder coger un micro que me lleve directo a la universidad sin ningún inconveniente.
Al caminar por la av. Tinoco para dirigirme al paradero de la av. Panamericana, siento temor, temor, en este lugar siempre camino rápido, antes lo hacía escuchando música para salir de la realidad y no dejar que los otros me atormenten. Voy con unos zapatos altos que compre con mi mama en Miraflores un día anterior, voy con un vestido azul que me llega hasta las rodillas, ¿muy provocativa?, no lo creo.
Ahora estoy con los oídos abiertos al mundo y comienzan. Paso por una obra en construcción y comienzan, quisiera que en ese momento la tierra me tragara, quisiera estar vestida como las musulmanas para que ninguna parte de mi cuerpo quede al descubierto, malditos solo quiero que se callen y me dejen de molestar. Sigo caminando y mas trabajadores de construcción vienen en bandos, en grupos, muchos hombres pasaran a mi alrededor, mis odios siguen abiertos, quiero taparlos con cera, no quiero escuchar, me atormentan su comentarios tan groseros, quiero llorar, estoy sola, sola ante esa gran cantidad de hombres que me ven con lascivia. Me siento reducida, quiero recuperarme pero continúan uno tras otro, y ahí vienen más, diviso a más hombres, los miro fijamente pero esto no parece perturbarlos, más bien les gusta. Miro al suelo para que no se den cuenta de mi presencia, solo quiero llegar al paradero, solo quiero llegar al paradero sana y salva en mi moral, subir al micro, que nadie me moleste, tener un viaje tranquilo.
Por esta situación de acoso pasan muchas mujeres en el Perú y el mundo. Yo paso por esto cada vez que quiero ir al paradero a tomar un carro, cuando quiero caminar tranquila por las calles, hay hombres que ven a la mujer como un pedazo de carne apetecible y quieren apoderarse de ella. Comienzan a emitir palabras con contenidos sexuales como lo que me dijeron a mi esta semana “quiero hacértelo”, “que rica estas”. En una ocasión trataron de tocarme, pero gracias a mi reacción lo impedí. Desde los 12 años cuando iba al colegio en un micro y un hombre me quiso meter la mano, he sufrido acoso por hombres en la calle, acoso verbales y en algunas ocasiones se han querido sobrepasar.
Pero que se puede hacer contra ellos, si solo pronuncian esas palabras groseras y se van, ¿detenerlos a increparles?, yo cada vez que salgo siento miedo, miedo ante estas palabras miedo ante este acoso, por eso los odio, por eso tengo temor de caminar sola.
Acaso piensan que nos alagan con estas insinuaciones tan vulgares, porque no pueden dejar que una camine libremente por las calles sin que nadie te mire o moleste, esto daña, y daño en el fondo. Con esto han conseguido que me vuelva un ser listo para la lucha, agresiva ante estas situaciones, ahora no se puede confiar en nadie, ya basta.
Esto lo paso día a día, cuando me dirijo a cualquier lugar, yo no lo busco porque no voy con ropas provocativas, no me exhibo, pero ya basta de este acoso, estoy harta que los cobradores, choferes, taxistas, albañiles, trabajadores, obreros, molesten a las chicas. Porque las palabras te atormentan, de eso no hay duda, ya basta de este abuso verbal que solo hace que quieras desaparecer, ya basta.
La próxima vez que me suceda algo así mi reacción puede ser fatal, pero ellos se los buscaron con sus insinuaciones indecentes día a día.

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Nonverbal Harassment

Amanda’s story: There are PLENTY of other seats!

Sitting in an almost empty bus. Another passenger, a man, gets up from his seat and sits next to me. There are empty seats available.

He presses his thighs against mine and tries to make eye contact.

I avoid his gaze. He sits like that for the entire journey. I cannot move.


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demonstration, homophobic, The Movement, Verbal

Monika’s story: I will stand up

This happened the day before spring break, before I found this site, and I feel terrible for not saying something.

I’m new at my school, so I don’t get a lot of attention, which is a good thing. I was sitting next to this girl, looking out the window, minding my own business, when I overhear a guy in the seat behind me say, “Hey girl, you wanna get with this?” The girl sitting next to me said, “No, thanks,” and turned back around. For the rest of the ride, he kept asking her if she wanted to have sex with him, how big his penis was, and at one point he even said, “What, you a lesbo or something?” She kept quietly saying, “No,” but he wouldn’t leave her alone. I wanted so badly to turn to her and say, “You don’t have to put up with this, there’s an empty seat up front, you can move,” but I was just too afraid. He kept harassing her the whole ride, even as I was getting off.

I really wish I had said something, but now I promise myself that the next time I see another woman being harassed, I will stand up and I will speak.

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Katie’s story: Just trying to wait for the bus!

So, I get to Union Station about an hour and a half before my bus is supposed to arrive to take me home. It’s about 5am, and I’m checkin’ Facebook on my phone. This guy in his 50’s (I’m guessing) comes to where I’m sitting and asks what time it is. I reply. He then takes that as an invitation to sit down next to me and ask me for money. I tell him I don’t have any. He then points to his swollen eye lid and how someone beat him up. I ask him if I should call 911. He starts swearin’ at me and telling me that it was a cop who punched him, so 911 isn’t going to help. He asks me to go get him a burger from McDonald’s, but only if he goes with. I’m terrified and getting really inconsistent with what I should be saying (the lack of sleep didn’t help either). I eventually pack up my stuff and tell him I have to go. I proceed to another part of Union Station that is well lit with lots of people and few cops. He finds me about 45 minutes later. He tells me he’s forgiven me and asks if I have a dollar. I reply no. He calls me a bitch under his breath and walks away to go ask more people. He eventually left Union Station about 10 minutes after that.

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Rachele’s story: Freaky in a bad way

Earlier today, I was sitting on the stone steps in front of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, right in front of City Hall, talking on my cellphone. Out of the blue, a middle-aged light-skinned bald man in green cargo pants and a white shirt walking by suddenly stopped, laid down on his belly on the sidewalk, puckered his lips, and kissed my toes (I was wearing flip-flops). I was too slow to react before he smooched, then I stood up and walked away quickly, without looking back. Ew! This behavior was definitely not ok with me! This city is full of freaks, and that’s one of the things I like about it, but there are limits and I felt dirty and violated by what that man did. Just because I am a young woman does NOT make me available for random touching from complete strangers.

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CJ’s story: Weirdos in the woods

Is flashing and chasing a form of ‘stalking’? I’m not sure, but this happened many years ago in Glen Burnie when I used to walk and jog around in my neighborhood between Southgate and Old Mill. It is three separate instances, not sure if they are related but they all happened within months of each other. This was also pre-cell phones – in the early 80’s. The first incident was at the baseball fields in Old Mill/Southgate park – my friend and I were walking by and a man was apparently sunbathing naked – with a full erection – on one of the benches. We were 15 years old and looked at each other and giggled, and quickly walked away. The man never acknowledged us or moved. The second incident was a man emerging from a wooded area that bordered Shetlands Lane, near the Old Mill football field. He had his pants down and some kind of long jacket that he actually flashed open as I was walking by – he was about 20 yards away, so I turned around and pointed at his ‘display’ and started laughing as hard as I could. He closed his jacket and turned back into the woods. The third incident was somewhat scarier. I used to jog along the path next to the football stadium as it was right next to where I lived. The path was wooded on one side opposite the stadium and dipped down into a gulley at one point. While jogging on this path – and right at the point where it dipped down, I heard footsteps behind me and turned my head to see a man, with his pants down around his knees, running behind me. I outran him and was fortunately close to home and immediately told my Dad. He grabbed a sledge hammer from the shed and went looking for the guy, but fortunately I suppose, didn’t find him. These were not the only times I was flashed or approached by a man with an erection on display. After the first time, walking home from school and a young man came up to me on the wooded path to ask what time it was – with his pants down – I punched him in the face, ran home and called the police. They could do nothing and actually asked me to describe his penis – I was 13 or 14 years old. After that – I never reported these incidents to the police again. There was obviously a serious problem in that area with sex offenders and I don’t know if anyone (though I’m sure it did happen to someone) was ever actually assaulted. I was lucky, very lucky and wasn’t afraid to embarrass the perpetrator or even defend myself physically. Now that we have electronic media in everyone’s hands, though, and stricter laws regarding sex offenders – hopefully these types of incidents will be ‘exposed’ and girls (or boys, either) won’t be preyed upon.

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Assault, Verbal

Skyla’s story: Bad end to a wine tasting

My friend and I were walking back to my house from downtown Saint Petersburg, FL, last night after enjoying a glass of wine at A Taste For Wine. She and I are both attractive women. As we are walking on Central Avenue, a drunk man in his 20s walks up behind us and begins verbally harassing us. He was yelling obscenities at us and like an instant reflex, I turn around and spit in his face. He says, “I can’t believe you just spat in my face! Nobody spits in my face,” and pushes me. Three women walk over to my friend and I and begin taking up for me since they had witnessed what happened. This scares the man and he walks across the street still screaming obscenities and threatening to harm me. I get my cell phone out of my pocket and dial 9-1-1. A minute later the police are on the scene. One of the police officers gives me the option of pressing charges or make the man go home. I tell the officer that I do not wish to press charges. I am a firm believer in karma and know that it will pay this guy a visit unlike any other. I begin taking mixed martial arts this week so that the next time something like that happens, I will be prepared to defend myself.

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