This happened when I was 13, and the memory’s stayed with me since. I was at my school camp, taking canoe lessons with the rest of the class. The canoe instructor, who was next to me, kept leering and saying things like, “You’re so pretty, what’s your name?” Being 13 and painfully shy, the only way I knew how to deal with it was ignore him.
I thought he’d just go away. Instead, he said, “Come on, I’m not going to bite you,” and grabbed my left arm and actually bit me. It wasn’t a deep bite but it was repulsive. He then proceeded to, what I now understand in retrospect, hump his canoe.
When I told my teacher about this, she brushed me off and said, “Oh, they’re just fooling around. Don’t take it so seriously.” Well, it was frightening, disgusting, and even now, 8 years later, those feelings are still with me.
People should never brush off sexual harassment just because it’s too troublesome to deal with it, or just because nothing seriously illegal was involved!
This happened a few years ago, and it still bothers me.
My cousin and I were walking down the street, sure it was dark, but not really that late. Not that it matters. We’re walking down a pretty residential street, and are literally 2 houses down from her front door. We had been out to get a bottle of wine for a big family dinner, and they all were waiting on us inside. This guy walking towards us goes right between us, bends down and grabs both of our crotches. And then just keeps on walking like nothing happened. He might have even been whistling. We were speechless, and before we walked through the front door, agreed to not say anything. Her parents would have flipped, and we just wanted to get over it. I still feel pretty violated when I think of it, and can’t believe that it even happened. What made him think it was okay to do that? How many other women has he done this to? So disgusting.
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.