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I have had several disturbing experiences with street harassment. My most recent experience is as follows:
Last week I was exercising at the track around the corner from my house. I noticed a man loitering around between where I was exercising and the public toilets close by me. He was there for a long while just watching. I didn’t think anything of it and walked home with my music turned up loud on my ipod. A few minutes after arriving home I decided to go to the store. Outside, I noticed a couple of police cars but didn’t think anything of that either. As I neared the store, two police men walked toward me from a side street. They stopped me, telling me they were waiting for me to pass and needed to talk to me. They asked me, “have you noticed the man following you?” I responded that I had no idea and that I had my music on really loud. They asked, “has a man approached you this morning?” and I said no, no one had. They then proceeded to tell me that I must be extremely careful and alert all my friends that the man who was following me had been reported by several people, loitering around my house, and that he had been masturbating on the street.
It is frustrating to not feel safe doing a regular, everyday things like exercising and going to the store. What’s even more frustrating is some of the reactions to my experience from some of my close guy friends. Things like, “I can’t believe the police caught me!!” or “I know I shouldn’t laugh but that’s hilarious!” or “If that were me I’d take it as a compliment” or “You must be flattered.” Are you kidding me? THERE IS NOTHING FUNNY OR FLATTERING ABOUT BEING FOLLOWED BY A FREAK!
In southern Holland, Carnaval is a big event sort of like Halloween minus the trick or treating. It’s basically a big party where everyone wears costumes, but it takes place throughout a large section of the city.
I’m studying here and decided I wanted to go, since it was one of those typical Dutch things I didn’t want to miss. I was with 2 other exchange students, and at the end of the night, we were walking back to the train/bus station. I definitely felt the alcohol at that point, but I wasn’t wasted or anything. Anyway, it was dark but the street we were on still had people scattered about. It wasn’t completely deserted. A man I’d guess to be about 30 physically grabbed me and blocked my path after calling to me and my friends and getting ignored. He started making kissing noises in my face while puckering his lips, his group of large male friends in the background laughing. I remember being terrified of what might happen and giving him a quick peck on the lips before running away, hoping he’d leave me alone after that.
No one did anything to stop it. One of the girls I was with even laughed while penalizing ME for kissing him, despite the fact that I did it solely out of fear that he’d hurt me if I didn’t. I changed the subject, but was reduced to tears the second I’d gotten home and had the chance to think about it.
I was sitting outside when a guy I knew stopped by to chat with his girlfriend. A man was passing by and stopped and told my friend that his girlfriend was “hot” and that he was lucky. He said “damn!” then turned and looked me up and down and said “How YOU doing? and stared at me as he walked away. It was wholly inappropriate.
I’m a university student studying abroad in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.
It was 10am on a bright, sunny day. The street was empty except for me and another woman who was ahead of me and walking the same way. I was on my way to the airporter bus, so I had my luggage rolling behind me.
This creep walking the other way sees us coming. Despite the empty street and the sidewalk so wide you could park a bus in the width, he get’s that small, leery smile and sneering eyes as he squares his shoulders and intercepts out path. Both me and the other woman veer sharply out of the way. My suitcase, however, catches him in the ankle with the wheel.
Made me feel a bit better.
Another time, I was reading on my campus grounds at around 11pm. A really drunk guy comes up and starts asking if I have a boyfriend, where I’m from, if I spoke Chinese, etc. When I don’t understand some of what he says, he touches my crotch. When I go to walk away, he makes a grab for my boob.
It’s made me a little leery when random men sit next to me just to speak English.
I told my roommate this. She said that some men once came to her and told her that she should be cheaper because she was small. My other roommate had a 40-year-old-ish guy kiss her on the lips after she had been nice enough to give him directions someplace.
I was driving home from an errand with my younger sister in the car. A guy in a giant pickup truck that said “GDM Electric” cut me off, not once, but twice. The second time he did it, he nearly hit my car, so I honked my horn.
I was stuck behind him at the stoplight, and while the light was red, he got out of his truck and walked over to my car and started screaming at me, asking what the hell my problem was, etc. I just glared at him until he got back in his truck.
I wish that he’d been run over while he was walking on a busy street in traffic to threaten me and my sister–he deserved it.
I go running in my neighborhood several times a week. I used to run by this apartment complex until some guy started coming outside to watch me and whistle, yell, and generally be obnoxious. At first it was just whistling, but then he started catcalling and the next time I went by his friends were with him! I had to change up my route to avoid going near that complex. I’m always happy when I can get through my miles without getting honks, yells, whistles, and catcalls. This is a college town and it’s annoying to not be able to get my exercise in peace!
I was at a bar with my cousin and her friends. This older man walked up to our table and started chatting one of the women across the table from me, and at one point, I thought I saw him pinch her cheek. She was smiling, didn’t say anything, and I went back to paying attention to my phone.
I must not have been paying enough attention to this man, because I felt him pinch my cheek. I almost smacked him I whipped my head and hand around so fast. I put my finger out at him and said, “Don’t. You. Ever. Touch me. It’s not appropriate to touch a woman you don’t know.” He wandered off, but them came back to “apologize” and he said, “it was disrespectful of me because maybe your boyfriend wouldn’t like it.” I said, “it was disrespectful because it was disrespectful and inappropriate.” He wandered off again, and came back a third time to chat up my cousin’s friend again, looking at me time and again. By this point, she had also begun telling that she was not interested, and he left us alone after that.
(after a brief, otherwise polite conversation)
Stranger: You should smile.
I ignored him and walked out of the store.
I was walking down the street to my car after one of my shifts at work, straight-faced, focused on getting to my car safely with pepper spray in hand. “Why don’t you smile?” I heard it and immediately turned red with rage. His buddies laughed. I kept my paced, looked over my shoulder, yelled “that was sexist bullshit!” and spent the rest of the night angry at him, the comment, and myself becaused I wished I would have confronted him and his buddies face to face.
These clever guys in my DC neighborhood use this adorable pickup gimmick when I bike home after work: they slow their car, make comments about my body, and even stop traffic to “cheer me on” as I slowly bike uphill. What would I do without their compliments and attention each day? Street harassment is the BEST. So far, three different cars have done this – one was a group of young college-age men, and the other two have been individuals. Tonight was a man who actually pulled over to wait for me after following me side-by-side for a block as I bicycled uphill, stopping traffic and making me worried I’d get followed. Luckily, people started honking and he drove away, but I was worried he’d catch me later on in my commute. I wish him a thousand flat tires.