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I recently came to France to study for a single semester and the 2nd day I was here, I was walking down the street with my new roommate (she and I were going to get some food and chat to get to know each other) and this RANDOM guy (who I’ll admit, I didn’t even notice at first because he was shouting at us in French) started following us and kept calling “Bonjour, bonjour.. Bon midi… HELLO? Excuse me, hello?”. I only turned around once I noticed someone speaking English (as that’s what my ear is used to) and he caught up to us and started trying to talk in French. Long story short, I didn’t understand him but my roommate did and she was translating for me… he kept calling us beautiful, kept saying he wanted to talk to us, kept saying that he wanted to know where we lived, TOOK OUR PICTURE (which I’m pretty sure were showed the most uncomfortable looking faces), then said he was going to kiss us goodbye (on the cheeks – as this is French custom) and wanted our numbers. When we said we needed to leave now, he asked us where we were going and we just said “out for some food” and he even INVITED HIMSELF TO COME WITH US. We obviously said no. But, I felt so awkward and under pressure even though I refused to give him any of our information. So he insisted on giving us his number and was like “promise you’ll call me when you get a French number”. HA, sure, pal. First thing on my to-do list.
Now, I’m not really used to that kind of thing because I’m not seen as a “conventionally” beautiful woman. I don’t have curves, I’m very petite. But this was insane. We were giving him very obvious signals that we weren’t interested and wanted to get away. I know that we stood our ground (to some extent) but we definitely should have been harsher and more firm. I guess that’s the patriarchal conditioning getting the better of me. Don’t wanna “let them down too hard”. I’m not a mean person but I don’t feel like men should find it acceptable to just approach women like that. Telling someone to have a nice day doesn’t seem so insidious to me, but all the other bullshit really gets to me. This experience in France so far hasn’t been repeated, but I was utterly shocked at how intense it was. I don’t want to feel like I have to look over my shoulder when I walk down the street because some dude with a self-entitlement complex feels like because I am female he deserves something from me.
Get whistled and yelled at aggressively while wearing my large sloth t-shirt…. men are objectifying/ sexualizing sloths? NOW It’s gone too far because they surely couldn’t have been catcalling at me, I wasn’t asking for it at 10am on my way to class, not wearing makeup and wearing a simple sloth t-shirt.
21 years old and walking at 6pm in the Oxford Circus area of London wearing a big baggy jumper and dark tights, a man blocks my path and tells me he’d like to give me ‘an hour long orgasm’. When I tell him to leave me alone he calls me stuck up and arrogant. I experience verbal harassment in London on an almost daily basis and it’s disgusting.
I had on a short sleeved button up blouse and some black pants that are tight up top and then get wider from the thigh down. I had a bike helmet on, digging through my backpack, and some nasty guy walks by and says “dang!” So I whip around and he is watching me as he’s walking. I call him a weirdo, while giving him a dirty look. He looks away and keeps walking.
I’m an American and was walking down by the Seine River in Paris one night in 2010. A guy ran to catch up with me, and asked me a question in French. I turned my head to glance at him briefly, then immediately looked ahead again, without slowing down or stopping. When I looked at him, I quickly sized him up. His size was comparable to mine, and he was obviously drunk. I figured I could take him on if necessary, but if I needed a Plan B, there were groups of people around whom I figured I could run to for help.
Me: Je ne comprends pas le français. (I don’t understand French)
Him: (asked another question in French that I couldn’t understand)
Me: Je ne comprends pas.
Him: French (pause) kiss?
Me: (sternly) No.
He reached for my arm, and his hand brushed my elbow as I pulled it away and stopped walking, then threw my fist toward his face and stopped it just inches from his nose. Looking him dead in the eye, I told him slowly and sternly, “Get, the fuck, out of my, face.” He stood stunned for a few moments, looking at me as though I was crazy, then walked back in the direction from which he came.
In the four months I stayed in Paris, only one other guy followed me for a few blocks and tried to talk to me, but he wasn’t as annoying as that guy, nor did I feel threatened. Not like one guy in particular in Michigan…
I was working for a friend who owned a gas station. It was Saturday night, and I was all alone when a guy came in with his friend. This guy was very persistent asking me out, and I kept telling him I wasn’t interested. After several minutes, his friend finally told him, “She’s not interested. Let’s go,” and they left. Later that night, the guy came back by himself. I wasn’t behind the counter that time, and he was standing right next to me. He was much taller than I am, and I felt very intimidated. I kept telling him I wasn’t interested, trying to be polite but not too nice, but he kept asking me out. This whole time, I had my hand on my pepper spray, discreetly, ready to use it, but he was standing too close to use it safely, and was standing between me and the only way out of this small building. I was very nervous, and didn’t know what he was capable of doing. I finally lied and said, “Ok, meet me at (strip club 45 minutes away) tomorrow night. I’ll be working there.” He agreed, and started to leave. Once he reached the door and was far enough for me to use my pepper spray if needed, I said, “No, wait. I can’t let you go all the way out there. I won’t be there tomorrow night.” He asked why I lied, and I said, “Because you wouldn’t take no for an answer.” He was visibly upset, but left. I was worried that he might come back again and jump me as I was leaving for the night, but thank goodness, he never came back.
I don’t know why this guy seemed to believe he could change my mind when I was being very clear from the beginning that I wasn’t interested, but at the time, I only figured that if he didn’t respect my “No” to a date, would he not respect my “No” on a date if I had gone out with him? I hope that he was simply ignorant, and that I planted a seed in his mind that night that he needs to respect a woman’s “No” when she says it.
I was at a bar, wearing a Tina Turner-inspired fringe dress I had made for a contest in which I sang one of her songs. I was leaning over a counter to talk to someone over the loud music, when I felt someone behind me move the fringe of my costume. I turned my head to look behind me, and there was a guy bending over with his face near my butt for a closer look. Busted, he walked over to a group of people who were presumably his friends. I followed him, stood about 2 feet in front of him, looked him straight in the eye, and calmly but sternly told him, “If you touch me again, I’ll kick your fucking ass.” He looked a bit surprised, and quietly put his hands up like he was innocent. I kept looking him in the eye for a few more seconds to let him know I meant business, then walked away and told a bouncer what had just happened. The bouncer didn’t kick him out, but said he would if the guy bothered me again, but he didn’t bother me again.
Before I confronted this guy, I felt disgusted and humiliated. After I confronted him, I felt better again and was able to enjoy the rest of my evening. I wouldn’t recommend confronting a harasser in every case, but I felt it was safe to do so in this case.
“I wanna hold your hand.” As I am walking with my girlfriend.
In Spain, walking at 11pm by myself through the city of Santander to meet up my friends for a pregame when I see a man in the middle of the sidewalk just standing there. I start getting a strange feeling until he turns to the side and I see his erect genitals. I stop in the tracks, horrified and turn down the closest street I can as fast as I can before he can see me. The fear I felt was intense, I was forced into panic mode to try and get away. It was a scarring, horrible experience.
I’m technically male but am more comfortable by dressing to look androginous and/or more female. I wasn’t dressed as a girl exactly, but while walking to my flat a guy who was perhaps in his mid 60’s, who was just standing there doing nothing, grabbed me and felt my private parts through my trousers quite thoroughly. As I looked at him in horror, he nodded, grinned and said “just checking.” I ran and called the Police. They came down and interviewed me. They then asked me what I was “expecting them to do about it.” I was very upset but I managed to ask them to press charges. They refused and just left. They weren’t rude to me,but he was still out there later. I just feel so vulnerable and powerless as if the Police won’t help me, what can I do? I’m still trying to work out who I am and how I feel and this has really set me back and hurt me. Why did he feel to need to check me like that?
I have been experiencing this type of “street harassment” and “catcalling” most of my life. Being a woman in my mid 30’s now, I have learned to deal with it and not take it so personally when it happens. Unfortunately, I can say that it has effected me in a negative way over the years. Here are some of the thoughts, behaviors, and ways of thinking that have come out of decades of enduring this harassment; My overall opinion of men has diminished because of the behavior of the offenders. I generally try not to stereotype, but after so many accounts from so many different types of men (old, young, professional, etc.), it’s hard not too. I keep my style of dress more conservative because when I wear more “sexy” or “girly” type clothing (including skirts, dresses and heels) it attracts unwanted attention. I avoid walking on busy streets, someone always honks, yells or whistles.
I’ve been “eye-f@%&ed” countless times, been told to “Smile, you’ll look prettier if you do” and asked “You got a boyfriend?” The most vulgar thing that I can remember being yelled at me was “Damn girl, wanna F@#k!”, and that was in my own suburban neighborhood.
I am so glad to hear that someone is finally speaking up about this and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my experiences. Having to deal with this on such a frequent basis really can start to wear on a person’s soul. I wish the yellers and catcallers of the world could feel what it feels like to be on the other side. Would they want someone to do it to their Mom or their sister? What do they expect to get out of catcalling someone, what is their intention behind it? Is it some kind of primal urge to look tough by degrading others in public? It’s frustrating as a woman to be pushed to feel uncomfortable walking around in public at times. I praise Hollaback and support you 100%. Thank you and keep up the good work by spreading awareness!