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Sorry guys, this a long one. I have a lot to vent about today!
I have experienced street harassment on a regular basis since I was thirteen years old. Since the tiniest hint of a figure first appeared on me, I have been cat called and wolf whistled at more times than I care to remember. Now, at twenty five, I like to think that I have a pretty thick skin for these sorts of things. I can usually manage a hearty FUCK YOU or at the very least ignore the person until they get bored. My most recent experience with street harassment happened this morning and was too much even for me to handle.
I usually ride my bike to work. It’s a nine mile commute into downtown which, despite the hills and the occasional 6:00 a.m. creeper (why yell at a sweaty, sleepy girl toiling uphill on a bicycle?!), I thoroughly enjoy. I get some excercise AND avoid taking the bus, and even better – avoid bus stops. But this morning I woke up and didn’t feel too hot. I am getting over being sick/stressed for the past few days so I figured I would conserve my energy for my shitty service job and take the bus.
In order to get to my job I have to transfer buses at 3rd and Pike – a stop known by every Seattle-ite for its constant and horrid retinue of bums, thugs, transient workers, street kids, crackheads, and the small smattering of normal people just trying to get to work. So this morning I walk out of the bus tunnel onto the crowded sidewalk and steel myself for what awaits.
I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t be as terrible as I remembered. It was so darn early … who would have the energy to bother someone? As it turned out, a lot of people did. Here is what happened in the less than five minutes I spent waiting for my bus: two workers drove by and the man in the passenger seat made a kissing face/noise at me; a man asked me for money and insisted on trying to hug/kiss me when I refused; a man stared openly at me and raised his eyebrows in a leering manner, then followed me onto the bus and sat directly across from me, staring at me until he got off. All this on top of feeling sick and exhausted. By the time I finally made it to work I was nearly in tears.
This is not ok. It’s not ok that when I want to take the bus to have a more ‘relaxing’ morning I wind up feeling objectified, demeaned, and demoralized. It’s not ok that when I ride my bike I am made to feel like a rolling piece of meat. It sickens me that I can’t walk to the grocery store or wait at a crosswalk without being openly stared at. Even in a city of lonely tech nerds where guys haven’t interacted with a woman outside of OKcupid, reddit, or 4chan … This is not alright. Seriously, Seattle. Let’s end this shit!
I was sitting in the park, reading a book, and a car drove by. One guy stuck his head out of the window and made a horrible noise. I ignored it. The car went around the block, I presume, because it came back and all of them yelled stuff like “Fags are GAY!” “I HATE YOU!” Scared the crap out of me
I was sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight when a group of men and one woman sit near me. I was listening to music and trying to watch a video that my friend had sent me when I noticed the men kept trying to interact with me. I wasn’t sure if I had dropped something, so I took out my headphones to see what they had to say. One of them said “my friend here has been checking you out since we got here. Now I’m not gonna lie, I have been too.” The woman told me to “just go with it”. I nodded and looked away when they kept asking me about where I was going and where I was from. Alone and scared, I panicked and I began to lie about my name, where I was from, and where I was going. I stood up and quickly walked away, trembling and confused. I didn’t know if I should tell anyone, but my friend was texting me telling me it would be okay and to just get near people.
I was exiting Dollar Tree when I noticed two men (30′s or so) staring at me and muttering to each other as they entered another store. I walked across the street to another business, and was recommended to the store back across the street. I entered, got the estimate I was looking for, and I turned to exit when I saw both men walking towards the door. One of them opened it, and I said “Thanks” and as I passed them, the other one said “What a gentleman.” And the man who opened the door said, “What a LADY!” both loud enough so I could hear. They both leered at me as I walked briskly away.
So I was at a restaurant with my friend. She went to the bathroom and this guy, who was at least 25, came up to me and started hitting on me. I told him I was 15, but he wouldn’t back off. There was barely anyone in the seating section where I was, so no one saw. He kept sliding towards me on the booth, saying how hot I was, rubbing my leg. The other side of the booth was a wall, so I couldn’t climb out. My friend finally came back and she threatened to tell the manager. He finally backed off.
I was waiting in line outside a concert venue and this drunk man made his way through the line talking to different people. He got up to me and kept saying I pretty I was and kept leaning in really close to me. Asking if he could hug me. I said no and told him to back away from me and he wouldn’t. Eventually he did walk away but it scared me a lot. And no one else in the line said or did anything even though they saw what happened.
I was shopping at a thrift store with my 1 year old son sitting in the cart and I noticed a guy would show up at whatever aisle we were in. He would brush by the cart staring at my son so I would randomize which aisle I was in and sure enough he followed. I hid in the furniture section and I saw him looking down each row. I figured that if I stood in the women’s section there would be no excuse for him to follow me there. I waited a bit and saw him run out of the store looking angry.
I was staying in shelters when I was 18 and I would read the newspaper inside cafes until the shelter opened up at night. One morning a sailor from out of town who had been out all night clubbing asked to sit down at my table. After a ten min conversation not only had he suggested that I “party” with him but made unwelcome comments about my tongue ring, called me a bitch when I refused him. He ripped the paper out of my hand and crumpled it on the ground giving me a death glare. Creep.
This was years ago, but it wasnt until now that I had a venue in which to share it safely. I was on a very crowded Q train when a man boarded at a stop & squeezed in behind me. As soon as the train left the station he started rubbing against me. After a few stops I turned, looked him in the eye & told him to stop & he didnt. I couldn’t move away it was so crowded but a man saw my discomfort & heard my plea & stepped in between us to protect me from the guy. I can never thank him enough!!
I was walking through Cal Anderson Park after a very stressful morning. I walked past some guys sitting by the water fountain. They yelled at me and called me beautiful and told me that I sure have a pretty smile and they would be happy if I smiled for them all the time. I did not acknowledge them and continued walking. As I got closer to them they kept telling me to smile and as I walked away from them, still not smiling or acknowledging them they started calling me a fucking cunt and an ugly slut. One even stood up and I got scared to walk past them so I started walking faster.
The park was full of people and I know a lot of them heard and saw what happened but no one said or did anything.