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#1: I was fifteen years old, crossing a busy street in a small town. A young man leaned out the back window of a slow-moving car and yelled: “I want to f**k you!” I stopped in the middle of the street and shouted back “Marry me, Captain Romance! I want to have your babies!” He peeled rubber.
#2: I was sixteen years old, riding the # 16 bus to the ferry terminal with friends. I was the last one off at our stop, a young man stood up in front of me and started pushing me toward the back of the bus. He put his hand between my legs and grabbed my pubis. I picked him up and threw him across the bus.
#3: I was twenty-eight, walking out of a bar with a friend. A strange man tried to grab my breast as I walked past him. I grabbed his hand, threw it at him, and kept walking. When I looked back, he was gaping at me like a clubbed fish.
There were many, many more of these sorts of incidents in my teens and twenties, these are my favorites because they ended well. The others ended with me slinking off feeling contaminated and afraid. But I do think that it is perfectly okay to fight back, to hit, kick, punch and bite, if someone puts unwanted hands on my person. So I celebrate those times when I remembered to stand up for myself in the heat of the moment. It’s important.
A group of guys were in front of a corner store. I was walking down the street with my mom. I was about 17 years old. When we passed them, they called me out identifying me by what I had on. I wasn’t dressed provocatively. I had on baggy jeans and sneakers and a tee shirt. They started kissing and hissing at me asking me if they could walk with me and asking if I can have my number. I shook my head no and kept walking. They kept calling at me and I just ignored them. When I got about a block away one of em yelled out to me, called me a b*tch and threw a bottle at me!
The glass broke just near my feet and shattered near my mom and I. My mom wanted to go back and cuss them out but that wouldn’t have been a good idea since it was a group of them and there were only two of us. So we walked away.
Now I am in my 30s (though I look like Im in my 20s) and I still deal with Harassment. Nobody has thrown a bottle at me but I still get hissed at, kissed at and cat called. I have even had my hand grabbed on different occasions. What is wrong with people!? I dont get why people feel so comfortable invading peoples personal space and being disrespectful. Then when you tell them not to touch you or to leave you alone, they get mad like YOU did something wrong.
Yesterday, I was on the N Line going uptown a little before 3PM today (2:50-2:58?). I boarded on 57th and 7th. Right when I walked in I heard yelling. I had no idea what was going on, everyone in the car (it was a reasonably full car) was staring at a group of 6-7 african american teenage girls in the middle of the car.
I soon realized what was happening– after the victims that they had been yelling at had exited the car, they turned and came back in because a few of the girls were cussing them out (profanely). I saw the victims were a 20-something year old couple: an african american male and his asian girlfriend. It became evident that not only these teenagers were racist— but they saw this mixed-race couple and started an altercation, calling them names and insulting them (BOTH)– especially making fun of the asian girl’s accent.
It was a completely verbal argument, but one that could’ve easily turned physical in any other situation (example, like if the teens were boys, the victimized man may have tried physical retaliation). The victims turned back in after they taunted them after they had exited– but they couldn’t really do anything– they were visibly upset, but they did not/could not reciprocate appropriately.
I assume it was because these girls were all underage, and there was a large gang of them, even though they were just teenagers. Also, of course, there are no cops around and there’s no videocamera. There’s no accountability. Meanwhile, everyone was just staring. The girls yelled at them to get out of the car again, and as they left again, one of the girls wanted to get in the last word, she actually (opened?) the subway window and yelled the couple, “Don’t eat that Chinese p***y!!!!”. But the most terrible thing is that these teenagers liked the fight, they were laughing about the whole thing. My heart just ached for them.
When the doors closed again I realized I had walked into a bad situation– as I am acutally asian myself and I had walked to stand on the car just several feet away from them. I am pretty new to the NYC subway system (I only come in about once a month), so I had no idea what to do. Does each car have an intercom? I felt that if it did, someone on the car should’ve reported it. If the car didn’t have an intercom, it SHOULD. People need to be held accountable for their actions— especially ones of a racist nature. The only way to do that is either have a policeman/security stationed at each platform OR have live video feed OR have an intercom.
THIS was a case of second degree aggravated assault– a crime! But nothing could be done about it. The bystander effect was well in place— everyone (20 people, different races) were anxious and alert, but no one did anything. And once the aggravators have left the subway car, who knows where they will go?? And soon, all the witnesses will slowly disappear as well.
It was one of the saddest, most disturbing experiences– a car full of young racist children taunting and cussing out an older interracial couple, surrounded by passive adults. It disturbed me on such a deep level and I wondered if anyone else felt the same way. So many questions arise– how is it that 6 young girls could have so much hatred for not only another minority, but one of their own race? NYC is the most culturally diverse city in the world, isn’t it?
As I turned my back to leave for my stop near 60th & Park, one of the girls tried to throw a piece of garbage at the back of my head (completely unprovoked by me– which is why I say they must’ve provoked the prior incident). She missed, and I ignored it and I kicked it to the side. I left the car quickly, and they followed. They followed me up the stairs laughing and giggling and egging each other on to try to throw the garbage at my head again. This second time they succeeded. As my back was already turned to them, I ignored them. I keep wondering what else I could have done. What could I have said or done, if anything? As a bystander, or as a victim?
I can’t get this incident out of my head. It’s shaken me, no doubt. The MTA needs to get their act together. MTA + police need to establish rules of conduct for both victims and bystanders and a real system with subway car intercoms/live video feed/policemen at each station– an interception system for effectively catching perpetrators of crimes before leaving the subway station.
Last night on my subway ride home, a man sat down across from me and spit on me. When I asked what his problem was he threatened to beat me and spit in my face. I walked to the other end of the car as he yelled obscenities and threats at me. He was a totally normal looking guy in his early 20’s. I have no idea if he was drunk, high, insane, or just an angry terrible person. No one on the train had my back or asked if I was alright, even though it was obvious what was going on. I don’t normally have a problem standing up for myself, but I felt genuinely threatened by the situation and didn’t feel like there was anything I could do about it except change cars at the next station. I just hope that this guy doesn’t ride my train line regularly.
Once I was with my best friend on the streetcar (in Toronto) and this old(ish) man approached us and started talking to us. I find it very hard to simply ignore people when they do this and he just seemed like a harmless, lonely old man. Then he started asking us if we’d go to dinner with him. We politely declined. Then he started asking if he could pay us 1000$ each to just have dinner with him. We kept declining, and his offers just kept escalating until he was offering 2500$ each to bring us up to his apartment so we could meet his female friend Kitty.
Since we had just been taking the streetcar for fun we decided to get off. He followed.
He kept walking beside us and talking, not being overly threatening, but I was sure to keep myself in between him and my friend (she’s two years younger, and I have a black belt in karate so I know I could handle myself).
She then bumped into something and said “ow” to which he responded “oh don’t worry girls, I won’t hurt you” – then he grabbed my arm and continued “well, I might”.
At this I just knew we had to get away from him. I tried to mouth the word “HELP” to passers by. I made eye contact with numerous people (including three guys who looked like they could have been College football players) but none took notice. I even thought about running up to one of these guys and pretending that I knew them. I didn’t though.
We were in a somewhat chic neighbourhood, and the only places around were expensive lunch restaurants, and our misplaced sense of decency made us not want to disturb people’s meals.
Then we passed by this upscale salon and someone was handing out flyers at the front door. We walked over and each took one and tried to strike up a conversation. Then the old man started talking to this flyer guy. This was our out we thought! We snuck behind him and walked briskly to a corner store just up the street.
Once in the corner store we both looked shook up and the owner of the store asked us if anything was wrong. I quickly told him to call 911 (which he did not) and that a man had followed us off the streetcar and we were trying to get away, but before I could finish the old man walked in and walked straight towards us.
He turned to the owner and said “these are my daughters! This one’s a pilot” – he said pointing to me “and this one’s a nurse” – he said pointing to my friend.
-let me just say that my name is Amelia, like Amelia Earhart, which I hadn’t told him. As well my mom wanted to be a pilot when she went to military college but being a woman she wasn’t allowed. And my friend’s mother is a nurse. Just a really weird coincidence… anyway…
Since he was situated in front of us we were both shaking our heads vigorously to let this store owner know that this was not the truth (plus we were both obviously in our teens, so being a pilot and a nurse was a little out there).
He distracted the man enough that his son could sneak us out of the back of the store. The son escorted us to Bathurst, and from there we walked quite briskly down to Queen street. I don’t know if the police were ever called, but this guy was definitely creepy. At certain points I was sure that if he had found the chance he would have tried something horrible.
Submitted by Amelia
I was walking out of work one night. It was around 9 pm on a Sunday. As I started down the street towards the subway, I saw a group of guys come out of a club next the my work’s building. I didn’t really think much of it, because it is New York City.
When I got a little closer, they started hollering at me, and one guy came up to me and started saying things like “Listen, all these brothers want to fuck you right now, right here, okay? They want to fuck you so hard…”
I told the guy to screw off, and I crossed the street. They they followed me. This was a group of about 15 guys, and I am one 125 lb girl, and I don’t get scared that easily, but I felt like it was time to run. When they started trying to grab at me, it was absolutely time to leave. So I took off in the other direction, and ran into the Trader Joe’s on 6th Ave. They didn’t follow me.
Now here’s my question. There were three clubs on that street with bouncers standing outside of them- including the club that these guys had come out of. Where were the bouncers, and why didn’t they help me?
Submitted by Alex
I was visiting Valencia in Spain for the festival Las Fallas. Like with the reporter in Egypt, the streets were completely packed with people. Everyone was squeezed together, and as I was squeezing through, numerous men groped me, one even getting his hand almost all the way down my pants.
Submitted by Deanna
This happened in 2000, I was waiting for the mid-night train to Amsterdam in the Berlin U-bahnhof McDonald’s. This McDonald’s had two floors, the first floor was the kitchen, the second floor had bathrooms. In Europe, McDonald’s and Burger King have free bathrooms, so I took advantage of this by sitting next to them. While waiting for my train, two drunk German men walk by me and then scoot into my booth and start speaking to me. I tell them “No spreche Deutsch,” point to my watch and get out to leave. Instead of heading to the platforms I decide to use the bathroom. While I’m in the ladies room, one of the drunk German’s come in and start banging on the stall door. I proceed to scream as loud as I can and hold the door shut. Luckily he left, I waited for a few minutes grabbed something out of my bag to use as a weapon and then proceed to run out of the bathroom as fast as I could. I saw him out of the corner of my eye being consoled by his friend. I ran and hid in the baggage locker section. At midnight I caught the train to Amsterdam. Looking back I wished I had gone to the police or the manager of the McDonald’s. What I realize from this experience is there needs to be talk about these situations or how to react so as to prevent this from happening to other women.
Submitted by Blaire
I’m often verbally harassed at gas stations by customers who tell me I “look like a video girl” while wearing a work uniform of khakis and a baggy t-shirt. A gas station employee twice my age offered to pay for my gas as he was bagging trash. Homeless men frequently “holler” as well. During a road trip with a girlfriend two men approached us as we were pumping gas and asked, “What are you two sexy girls doing in the middle of nowhere all alone?” I was terrified. Once an elderly man in a wheelchair blocked my way out of a Goodwill then FOLLOWED ME TO MY CAR, harassing me for twenty minutes insisting I “leave my boyfriend for a real man”. During a walk with my boyfriend a pick-up sped by and someone screamed, “FUCK HER IN THE ASS.” I used to wear a fake wedding ring while working to avoid harassment. It was ineffective. In fact, it may have made it worse. I almost snapped recently while walking out of Publix after purchasing diapers for my newborn son, when two men started heckling me. Instead of dropping multiple f-bombs I ignored them completely. I’ve been told to smile too many times to count, touched/grabbed forcefully while waiting tables, and much much more. It’s the equivalent of beating a dead dog.
Submitted by Jimi
I was leaving Cosi when a young man (probably in his mid 20s) approached me. He said, “nice pussy” and reached out to grab mine. I simply blocked his hand and stared him down until he broke eye contact. I continued on my way, and looked back to see that he was still standing there. I guess he didn’t get the reaction he anticipated.
I didn’t speak to him, but if I could, here’s what I would say:
“Damn right, I have a nice pussy. But you will never get anywhere near it.”
Submitted by Kate