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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!
I stopped at the gas station midday this past summer and as I was walking back to my car an older man (probably well into his 70’s) had backed into the spot beside my car and was directly beside my drivers side door. Well as I’m getting into my car he asks me how much? I said excuse me and he had the nerve to actually say how much for that pu$$y and said he needed some young white lady in his life. Said he needed what I could give him and I should stop looking at him like I’m disgusted. I was floored, never have I had someone speak to me that way! I wasn’t in revealing clothing at all either, I had on jeans and a regular t shirt (work attire).
I have just moved to a new city, Richmond Virginia and have been working remotely for my job so I went to the public library to work on my lap top. I was seated in a large room with small square tables in sets of two with long rows of book shelves in between them. I had a small table to myself and the table next to me there was a man seated alone. I was deep in my work when I could feel the man next to me starring at me. I decided to ignore him and keep working but I soon could sense out of the corner of my eye that he was moving his body now to face me. I immediately started to feel uncomfortable. Then I realized that he was moving his had across his groin area while starring at me, he just continued to rub himself and watch me. I was terrified, I have been sexually assaulted in a public place once before and I immediately froze, my heart was racing and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to make eye contact, I wanted to shout at him and expose him for what he was doing, I wanted to run over and attack him. Instead I got out of my seat and went to the information desk, the desk was empty. I slowly went back to my seat and I think he must have gotten scared seeing me leave and took off. I was so angry at myself for not reporting him or shouting at him but I am also tired of blaming myself. I had done nothing wrong. I went home and decided to share the story with my husband even though I didn’t really want to because I felt so disgusted by the experience. I had a good cry and promised myself next time to speak up for me any every other woman. Thank you for listening.
See that snot mark dripping down my shirt in the attached photograph? It is a crying booger. It came from my nose and landed on my $4 turtleneck from Rainbow. I tried to hold the darn thing in, but alas, it got the best of me with all of the Sprint store on 5th Avenue and 22nd Street to witness the snottage action.
Today is November 11th, 2014. Veteran’s Day. Around 2 o’clock PM, I was on my way to the Sprint store. I happened to be in the Madison Square Park area where all of the excitement surrounding the Veteran’s Day parade was happening. I removed my giant, retro headphones that I wear every day for a specific reason so that I may hear the joyous “sounds of the streets” (I rarely listen to music; I usually just tuck the cord into my pocket, not hooked up to any sort of device).
I’m sure you know what is coming next. I’m a female in my 20’s writing an entry in my blog with a sad-faced photo attached, so of course it is about street harassment (or what some people may not categorize as “harassment”). Typical.
It will never end. People will never agree on the topic, or most topics in general (to be very vague and non-descriptive), and that is okay. Bad things in the world will never end, because not everybody views them as bad things. But, referring to this pathetic picture of myself, the aggression shown towards me and my body did indeed evoke negative emotions in me. It made me uncomfortable, and the comments were unwanted. It plain-old ruined my day. I have lived in this city for almost 6 years, and I try not to let these comments mean more to me than the $USD worth of a processed-cheese sandwich; I have a wonderful family, and my career involves me getting paid to run around in fields like a forest elf; But, some days I break. If this picture is not proof that “street comments” are unwanted and fall into the category of harassment, then I do not know what is.
That pasty sliver of skin where my pants meet my $5 turtleneck from Rainbow was me “asking for it”, according to my assaulter, who was working crowd control at the parade (the turtleneck got more expensive as this entry continues). He didn’t think that stepping in front of my path in an intimidating and aggressive manner and commenting on my belly was disrespectful and wrong. He is entitled to his opinion. And that’s why things will never fully-change in the way that many of us dream of, despite the recent, valiant efforts by “Hollaback!”.
That catcalling video with the modestly dressed woman walking around New York for 10 hours was made by “Hollaback!” for a reason, educational I’m guessing, and I am truly sorry that the response to it included parody videos about NY Jets fans. People love their parody videos. Come up with your own goddamn ideas.
My main reason in writing this entry is to thank the people that stood up for me today. Thank you to the man in the white button-down that took off his headphones and yelled with me. “Good for you!”, he said. And thank you to the woman in the Sprint store that consoled me after 5 minutes of me poorly pretending that I wasn’t super sad and angry. “Stay strong, girl.”
I now feel ridiculous and selfish posting this sappy picture of myself on Veteran’s Day, but I am doing it anyway because today I decided to speak (and write). Thank you for listening.
I need to stop having meltdowns in Sprint stores.
A few days ago, I was walking off of the subway heading to a friend’s apartment. As I approached the stairs to head toward the exit of the station, a tall man walked past me and I felt his hand on my butt. Yep, he grabbed me inappropriately and kept walking. By the time I realized what had just happened, turned around to call him a disgusting pig, he was already on the subway. Shocked and disgusted, I ran upstairs to alert a police officer or MTA employee (as they encourage you to do) yet not one single employee or officer could be found in the entire subway station. There is even a police office located within the station, but the lights were out and no one was there. I was horrified to realize that I could not immediately report this and there was absolutely no one to help me. What if this had been a more serious case? What if I had been injured? It’s very disappointing to realize the lack of support I felt that day and I’m sure I don’t stand alone as a victim of inappropriate and unwanted sexual touching. So I called MTA and they deferred me to the police. The police offered to send someone to the station, but the man was far gone by then. Even more disappointing is the fact that when you try to submit a complaint on MTA’s website, you receive an email saying that someone will respond to you “within 15 business days”. This isn’t exactly what women want to hear after they just experienced something like this.
I plan to make a police report, but unfortunately I am just one of the countless women who experienced this and will probably not see any justice.
Here’s to ending street harassment, bringing awareness to the issue and supporting women.