Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Duke University, NC, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Flagstaff, AZ, Houston, Iowa City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, Oneonta, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Providence, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Twin Cities, West Georgia (University)
I had just left a bar with several male friends when they decided to stop by the food truck right outside. I didn’t want anything, so I hung back away from the line. Most of the crowd were men and I didn’t know anyone outside of my friend group. I stood firmly with my arms crossed at my chest, scowl on my face, wearing very modest clothing, while I waited for my friends. My unapproachable demeanor was intentional, and reserved for such scenarios.
I noticed two men coming up the wide sidewalk, decided I was not in the way of foot traffic, and continued to wait. They were walking together, until they got near me, where one guy walked right up to me, to the point his chest was touching me, as if to say “Move, you’re in my space.” I waited a few seconds in the obvious power play and eventually pivoted because it felt too aggressive. The other man he was with then grabbed my waist in a very familiar manner as if to set me aside, or grope me, I couldn’t tell which. Maybe both. I resisted the urge to punch them, though my fist was already balled and ready to go. I may have done it, had I not suspected they could inflict greater harm.
Three instances around the same area in Chelsea:
1. On my way to the mailbox before heading home-
Random Guy 1: Hey, I like your sunglasses!
RG1: Hey, can I ask you a question?
RG1: I’m having a party next weekend, do you want to come?
Me: Uh, no that’s okay, bye.
2. On my way to work at about 7:50 AM
RG 2 veers off his path and towards me: I wish every girl were as pretty as you. (he proceeds to make kissing sounds at me)
3. On my way to work at about 7:50 AM
RG 3: Hey sexy, hope you have a great day! (also makes kissing sounds at me)
Three completely different people with varying degrees of verbal interaction that made me uncomfortable.
Harassment is a frequent problem for runners. I occasionally announce to other men on the trail (because there aren’t as many women & they already know it anyway) that “The guy I just passed is creeping me out.” Today I was fortunate that one of the men near the trail was a uniformed police officer. The Creep said to me, “I’m going to take you in my arms. I’m coming to get you.” So hopefully the officer did something about this.
Visiting family in CA and they convinced me to tour Golden Gate park alone, immediately knew it was a bad idea when I got off the bus. As I wandered in, I accidentally made eye contact with a man walking with a group of friends. Sped up and looked straight ahead but he moved over to my side of the path, bent down and got a couple inches from my face to say “How you doing boo” before strutting off with his friends. Wanted to yell at him but he had a whole group and I was alone, and didn’t see many people nearby. Later that day I thought I would walk downtown to get some chocolate and virtually the same thing happened–creepy guy who just looked like he had something to prove makes eye contact a ways away, then approaches, gets right in my ear this time and says in the creepiest voice I can imagine “hey baby” as he walks past. At least that time there were more people around, but he walked by too fast for me to think of a response. Thinking if that same “technique” is used again I might loudly warn everyone to watch out for the “street harasser in [insert clothing here]” and point at him. Definitely a mild experience compared to most but really creeped me out how close they both got to my face.
I was walking to work this morning and found a run in my tights. My side of the street was fairly empty so I walked into an isolated area and took off my tights and saw this man (in his late 40s) continue to stare at me as he walked past. He did this multiple times until I asked “what are you staring at?” He stopped his walk, turned to me, and started aggressively gesturing towards me, angry that I had asked him why he was staring. I crossed the avenue and at the following intersection, saw that he was still staring and angrily gesturing and saying things to me, waiting for the light to change so he could accost me at the next intersection. I got so scared that I hailed a cab in the opposite direction of my job and ducked down in the seat until I arrived at my office and ran inside. This is my regular walking path to work and I am terrified of running into him or him following me.
I’ve actually been harassed way too many times, at one point (because it all started off when I was young 14) I just started to think it was the every day norm for a woman to be harassed, either verbally or physically. But now I understand that it isn’t something your supposed to be used to.
I spent my adolescent years being physically and verbally assaulted, from being molested, to having some stranger call me a slag. All unprovoked.
I’ve had men try and put their hands up my dress on a night out, to men pinning me up walls from behind and kissing my neck.
I’ve even had friends dads touching my breasts, but I was so scared during every encounter I’ve had with these men that I had never said anything, thinking that if I said anything than they would take it further.
I thought I should say something, as I’ve never really told anyone before. Only my partner, and it’s comforting being able go acknowledged that I am not alone. That it’s something that all woman must go through.
I was at rockfest in Kansas City and while me and one of my friends were listening to a band on the main stage these guys came up behind us. The crowd was really tight so everyone was packed together really close. One of the guys tried to start up a conversation but I shut him down and turned back to watching the music. A crowd surfer was coming toward us and fell just in front pushing me backward into him. All i could feel was his hand on my ass. I jumped forward and turned around, he apologized, smirking, and said that it had been an accident. I was definately feeling more uncomfortable but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I turned around and tried to enjoy the concert. the next thing I knew he was right behind me with his hand between my legs from behind. Now I have never been physically assaulted before so reaction is not my strong suit, but I turned around and shoved him as hard as a could. He was still smiling as I grabbed my friend and dragged her away. The worst part was probably her reaction. She acted like it was just another thing that happens at rock concerts when these guys get drunk. NO. I don’t care how much alcohol he had it does not give him the right to touch me. And it honestly makes me more sad that some women just accept it as a part of life.
I work downtown and will either take the bus home or walk. A few months ago, probably in February or March, I noticed a man hit on a woman as I left work around 8pm. She brushed him off and he tried to talk to me, but I ignored him and kept walking. I had to run some errands so I stopped by Target, and was talking on the phone to my mom when he tapped me on the shoulder. He said he knew I was in the middle of a conversation but he really “liked [my] look” and wanted to talk to me. I told him to wait until I was finished talking if he wanted to speak with me, and walked away.
A month or two later, I was waiting at my usual bus stop when the same man came up to me. He struck up a conversation with me, and not wanting to be rude, I talked to him for a bit. When he asked me if I was an artist, I told him I had designed the image on my t-shirt. He laughed and said “Well, now I’m looking directly at your chest.” Thankfully that was the moment my bus came, and when he asked me out for coffee I told him I wasn’t interested, and had to leave.
Those were both downtown. Tonight, I was walking home from work again and was stopped at an intersection closer to my neighborhood. I turned to look at something and saw the same man behind me, so I quickly turned away obviously not wanting to be engaged in conversation. He walked all the way around me until he was right in front of my face and couldn’t be ignored and said “Hello, you know you look really cute.” I felt like this guy needed to be put in his place, so I told him that I saw through his act and he had done this to me several times before. Rather than being ashamed, he was delighted, and said “Really! Wow! I thought you looked familiar!” I forcefully told him that I was not interested in talking to him and that I was trying to make my way home in peace. He said “Well I just thought someone should tell you you looked cute.” I walked away from him without a word.
I’ve not only had uncomfortable interactions with this particular man in the last few months, but have had multiple notable sexist interactions with men in the last week alone, all while simply trying to commute home from work. I feel uncomfortable to even walk out my door or wear something that shows a bit more skin. It is not acceptable to be made to feel this way simply trying to get to and from work.
I was walking through a shopping mall to escape some of the summer heat, and had just gotten off the escalator to visit a few other shops. A man in his early twenties approached me politely and asked if I knew where the nearest Indian restaurant was; I gave him the intersection with the nearest restaurant. So far, so normal!
Next, he said: “Please feel free to say yes or no, but would you like to try my Indian juices?” (This was his ethnic background.) I was so shocked, at first, I just said, “No, but thanks” and walked away into the nearest store. After simmering for about thirty seconds and feeling my heartrate do all kinds of crazy things, I realized that leaving our interaction at that was wrong, especially with the number of other young women/girls walking in the mall that day.
I walked back out and to the guy, who seemed surprised to see me coming.
“Do you realize that the question you asked me could be taken sexually?” I asked him. No reason to assume ill intent if he was just really, truly culturally ignorant. Sadly, he wasn’t. He immediately began to shuffle his feet and admit that, no, he knew what it meant, but he was just “really bored” and an engineering student at X University for the summer.
“It’s not appropriate. I’m twenty-nine, but if you approach a seventeen-year-old and say that, there’s going to be a problem. That is not appropriate to say.”
He whined that he was just trying to find something to do with his summer.
“It’s not appropriate. Hope you find something better to do with your summer,” was my final comment before walking away.
Then, I went into a shop nearby and immediately reported him to the cashier and asked that she call security. Two guards responded within the next ten minutes.
Calling this person out and then reporting it made me feel more in control; as a survivor of past physical assault, this kind of verbal confrontation makes me feel all of the awful physiological reactions to an assault all over again (nausea, headache, heart palpitations, sweating). Dealing with this individual as a proactive adult, and not as a reactive victim, does help relieve those feelings, but I still feel gross! This kind of behavior is 100% unacceptable. Hopefully, my efforts plus those of the security who escorted him from the mall will help him realize that.
On my way home from getting groceries after work today I was walking along a very busy street with one side being redone resulting in the erection of a janky, narrow two-lane temporary sidewalk. A man walked towards me innocuously and as we crossed paths he reached his hand out and cupped my breast. I stopped and the chicken cutlets in my grocery bag gently hit my thigh. I thought, did I imagine that?
I turned around and watched the man in the hooded sweater continue walking. The man had just touched my breast as if he were pushing the crosswalk button and now I was letting him walk away. But what could I do? It seemed the moment had passed. The barely perceivable moment of shame had passed and I was the only witness and no one would fight for me. I suddenly remembered the same feeling of helplessness mixed with fear flooding over me when I had been a student in New York my freshman year in 2009. I had been on my way to tutor at Tompkins square middle school on the east side of the notoriously shady Tompkins Square park and I had been texting on my blackberry half watching where I was walking. On a similarly deserted side street in a popular neighborhood, a man, jerked his arm into my breast sending my sad little blackberry flying out of my hand and onto the sidewalk. I stood there stupefied not knowing what to do. I even remember wondering how I could have provoked his fury. As I now watched the man who bore so many parallels to my faceless aggressor from the lower east side I realized very quickly that while they may have not changed, I had. Here I was in my law firm work clothes, I was grocery shopping, no longer mooching from Weinstein and Kimmel! I pivoted on my toe and began clop clop clopping in my kitten heels towards the faceless man who had just touched my breast. He glanced back and kept walking straight. I yelled after him “Pourquoi vous m’avez faites ça?” He began to pick up his pace. He was picking up his pace and now I was pursuing him, how rich! I yelled again, “Pourquoi vous m’avez faites ça?!” We turned off rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, out of the janky temporary sidewalk, and onto the heavily populated Boulevard de la Villette. My heels were not letting me catch up with him and I yelled a third time “Pourquoi vous m’avez faites ça!?” A young boy in a suit around my age, and a mother pushing a stroller with two little girls hooked to her waist looked at me, then at him, then kept walking. The man was speeding up and I could not catch him. I had spent a minute of my life chasing this coward down the street and with my thoughts boiling over and my limited French I could only think of one final succinct phrase to yell at him: “Vous êtes un lâche!”
I stopped and my chicken cutlets hit my thigh again. I was shaking badly, the adrenaline was rushing, but I was smiling. I turned around to walk back towards my apartment. I crossed the mother I had passed and she seemed to understand what had happened and asked me if everything was okay. I told her, Yes.
My Maman had always told me if there was danger, to go away from it. Her favorite anecdote is that of the safety lesson the plane stewardess gives the cabin before takeoff. Should there be a problem with the air pressure, the stewardess instructs you to first put on your mask, then and only then, may you help others. With my Maman’s blunt twist, the moral of the story is summarized as such: You can’t save anyone if you’re dead! So I apologize, Maman, for going towards the danger. But you see, the danger turned out to be a ruse. Admittedly, at the moment I pivoted I didn’t know what I would do. I had imagined so many times before, following other street-slights, crude looks and creepy words, “I will slap him so hard”…But this man was not in slapping distance. He was far away. I didn’t imagine I would run to catch him and start a fight. What provoked me to keep going was his reaction. He ran away. The moment I refused to be the victim and hand him the aggressor role I found him deflated of the initial danger he had posed to me. In fact, as he picked up his pace, I realized exactly what these faceless street aggressors are. Shameful cowards who believe their nearly imperceptible act will go unpunished. I have never been harassed by a pack of boys or men. I have only been shamed in silent incidents like this in which their often-complicated retelling seems to be completely imbalanced compared to the time and place in which they took to happen. Perhaps this is why they continue to occur.
In yelling after this man I called attention to myself and perhaps a normal Parisian would have never done this. But I called attention to him as well. I dragged the moment of shame to hang over both of us and as far as I’m concerned I no longer have anything to be ashamed for. For so many words used about this incident, I could have just as easily summed it up here: that piece of shit had no right to touch me. Not the first one on the lower east side and not this one in the 10eme arrondissement of Paris. The faceless man doesn’t have the right to touch you, and you weren’t dreaming. He does it because he thinks you wont act back. As if you ought to feel shame for being on the street and buying chicken cutlets for dinner. No. This is for my girls. The faceless creep is universal and he is not worthy to touch you. The only shame is in letting the moment pass.