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I am harassed daily because I take a bus and a train to work which is in the downtown area of Chicago; all sorts of people wandering. I work for a cosmetic line which encourages individual style and creative appearance. Because I am heavily tattooed and dress like I’m going to a trendy gathering for work (complete opposite of how I dress not working) I am approached, stared at, cat called, insulted, chased and treated like a tear in a magazine or an object to touch.
Daily, I am feeling angry and frustrated and filled with hate. It interrupts my work sometimes because I am in the public’s view. I was once told to tattoo “stupid whore” on my forehead because I declined communication with an older man in his 50s. I’ve been called “bitch” because I confront men who stare at me like I am oblivious to their eyes. I’ve been insulted for ignoring when I walk to my train or bus. I’ve been chased and followed by men who think I’m “easy”. I’ve been grabbed and pulled like an object because of my completely covered tattooed arms and legs. Then they get angry with me because I snap back. Because this happens literally on a daily basis, I’ve grown to hate living in Chicago. I grew up in Texas and never had this heavy amount of street harassment. I am a human and I just want to walk peacefully.
This happened to me in the summer of 2010 when I was sixteen-years-old. I was walking home after shopping in Union Square in San Francisco. I was at a stop light waiting for the light to turn and there was a man on the other side of the street waiting for the light to turn as well. As we waited, I could see him staring at me from across the street. I was very uncomfortable but gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe he was just looking at something behind me or was in some sort of daze. The light finally turns and we cross paths. He keeps looking at me but doesn’t say or do anything. I thought I was in the clear. Two blocks later, I was at another stop light. I can hear someone panting and running towards me from behind. I had a weird feeling that it might be that man from the previous stop light and I turn around and I was right. He comes up to me, and starts walking next to me and strikes up a conversation. He asks me my name. I ignored his question and told him that he shouldn’t be talking to me because I’m sixteen (this guy was clearly a lot older, probably in his thirties).
He then sees that I have shopping bags in my hands and asks if I’m going home. I shouldn’t of responded but politely, I told him yes. He then asks me if I’m living with my parents. I say yes. And then he has the guts to ask me if they are home. At this point, I am freaking out internally since we are nearing towards my house. I end up passing my house because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. After not responding, he asks me if he can have my number. At this time, it had only been a week since I moved to the United States and didn’t have a cell phone. So I told him that I don’t have a cell phone and he asks if I have a home phone. At this point, I was fed up, scared, and had no idea what else to say so I blurted out that I had a boyfriend. He then laughs, stops walking with me, and turns around to goes back towards the direction he was originally going.
This was six years ago but I remember it like it was just yesterday.
I was 17 and was sitting alone on the Metro line coming from Grand Central station. A man sat next to me and I didn’t think much of it since it was a busy train, so I continued to look out the window and listen to my iPod. A little while into the train ride I felt that he was staring at me, I was instantly petrified and continued to stare out the window silently hoping he would stop. Then I noticed in the reflection of the window he was touching himself and smiling at me. I began to shake and panic, so a few stops later I worked up the courage to get up and tell a conductor, which was beyond embarrassing since I didn’t quite how to phrase what was happening. The conductor asked the guy to stop bothering me, and told him to move. I passed this man to get to my new seat and he gave me such a smug look, it was equally terrifying, and disgusting. I’m now 19, and still worry about it. Since this moment I have been extremely paranoid in crowds and hate traveling alone. It was so vile and disgusting, and I remember feeling guilty for some reason after I told the conductor! The rest of the ride home I played the situation over and over again, and for some reason tried to justify his actions. I know now that I did nothing wrong, I’m not guilty, and harassment has to stop.
Always when guys whistle at me or call out stuff such as “babygirl” etc, I never ever look at them, especially not the whistles. I’m not a fucking dog.
I was at a sushi place down town with a friend and a group of people wanted to take pictures with us (relatively common in Stockholm). One of the older men (like 55y/o) grabbed my ass right when we took the pic. I grabbed his fingers, took his hand off of my butt and angrily “threw away” his hand whilst staring as angrily at him.
I’m a 16 year old girl. Once I was on an extremely crowded metro, there were so many people I could barely turn around. Now this creep behind me (like 45 y/o) is starting to lightly touch my ass, his hand just glides by like it was nothing. It was so lightly and I felt like I couldn’t say anything without looking crazy. Now this guy got closer to me and I could feel his breath on my neck and how his dick (through his pants) was slowly grinding me. I went off at the next stop, disgusted…
I had plans to meet a male friend at a restaurant for dinner. When I pulled into the restaurant parking lot, I saw my friend in his car waiting for me, waved, and continued on to park my car. I parked right in front of the door to the restaurant, and as I pulled in, a middle-aged man walked out and stood right in front of the aisle between my car and the one next to me, blocking the restaurant and smiling at me creepily. I was dressed nice, and when I got out and began to lock my car, he started saying, “Hey, you’re pretty cute…”, and began to approach me. There was absolutely no need for him to walk down the aisle between the cars, so I can only assume it was to get closer to me.
I immediately turned and walked away from him and toward my friend, who had gotten out of his car but did not know what was going on. The man followed me until he saw that I was not alone, but with a male, and then went away. It is unfathomable to me that in this century, there are still people that will not respect a woman’s own right to exist and go where she pleases without being harassed by random strangers, until she is accompanied by another man. The man at this restaurant respected more the fact that my male friend knew me than the fact that I am a person. Women are humans, and humans should not need the presence of another human to be treated as such.
When I was in highschool, there was a guy who was constantly harassing me. He was friends with a friend of mine, and our school wasn’t so big, so he was always around it seemed and even in a few of my classes. He always commented on my breasts (I have fairly large ones), would say I had “the perfect BJ mouth”, and wouldn’t let up when I asked him to stop. I had one class with him where he sat right next to me, and during the class he would suddenly grab my breast and grin at me when I would look at him in shock. This happened almost every day, and when I would confront him he would laugh and say, “it was a ghost!” It really bugs me that, not only did he get away with it, but my teacher never seemed to care. We sat in front of his desk, and I knew he was aware. It made me so uncomfortable because the guy was popular and I would most likely get harassed more if I went to the principle. I felt powerless.
I lived in the NY/NJ area for 7 years – and over that time, I had men expose themselves to me on the subway, call to me on the street and then masturbate, and one time I wasn’t even off of the steps to my building when a guy said “nice tits”. But the worst experience I had was when I was living in Jersey City, NJ and working in Manhattan.
I often took the bus in and out of Port Authority. One night, I was out in NY with friends, and was going home about 11 PM so the terminal was pretty empty and quiet. It was summer, and I was wearing a white sundress that fell just below my knees. As I was standing on the escalator going up to the next floor, I felt my skirt brush my leg. It was odd because the escalator wasn’t crowded, and when I turned to see what caused it, I discovered a man lying on the escalator behind me, peering up my skirt. I immediately started shouting, “Stop it! Get away from me!” and I ran to my bus platform as quickly as possible, because I knew there would be other people waiting there as well. The man followed me. As I neared the platform, I continued shouting, “That man is following me – he just looked up my skirt” By this point I was crying and very upset. The worst part of it, however, was the indifference of the people waiting. Someone actually said, “what do you expect?” and everyone literally avoided me, as if I was crazy.
When I got on the bus, I was sobbing uncontrollably, and no one wanted to sit next to me (which was fine with me). Then one man politely and respectfully asked if he could sit next to me. After he sat down, he apologized for the behavior of everyone else. He asked me if I wanted to talk about it, and I told him what happened. He again apologized for my experience. And then he started asking me random, small talk questions in an effort to divert my attention and make me feel better. He was the only person in a bus load of people that didn’t treat me like a leper. He even offered to walk me to my door, but there was no way I was going to trust him just because he was nice to me. I don’t know if he was trying to take advantage of my being in a vulnerable state, but I like to think that he was just a good guy in a sea of creeps.
My husband and I recently moved into a brand new townhouse. There is still a lot of construction going on in the neighborhood, especially right behind our house. I am in my early 20’s and have been harassed on the street too many times to count. If you are a woman or a part of the LGBTQ community, I am 99% positive that you have been harassed by a construction worker at least once in your life.
One day this summer I went out to get the mail. Since I live in a townhouse my mailbox is not simply at the end of my drive way. While I was walking back from grabbing the mail, a construction worker started to catcall. “Hey! Hey pretty!” I ignored his comments. “Hey! Hey I’m talking to you!” He did not like that I did not give him the time of day. I did not flick him off like I wanted to nor did I even look his way. By the time I reached my garage he was still trying to get my attention. I closed the garage door and stormed into my house. I was pissed! I was pissed that I was harassed at my own home. Home is a place where you are supposed to feel safe and welcomed. Every other time that I have been harassed I have flicked the guy/s off. I believe the reason why I did not respond was because I did not feel safe to do so; the bastard knows where I live.
On another day before the mailbox situation, I was walking back from the grocery store next to the house. This guy driving a construction bobcat pulled up next to me and said “Hey pretty, why don’t you hop on up here and I’ll give you a ride?” I said, “No.” He responded, “Just trying to do something nice for a lady.” He winked at me and kept driving. I was only 20ft away from my front door.