Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, NYU, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, SUNY Oneonta, Tucson, Twin Cities
A lot of people talk about how they are sexually harassed because of their beauty and how strange men want to have sex with him. But I don’t see a lot of stories about how cruel random men can be to women on the street. More than once, men have said things to me along the lines of “you couldn’t get this dick if you tried” or “damn she ugly” as I passed. Sure, there have been times where guys have said “damn girl, what’s your name? I said what’s your name?!?” And made comments about me to their friends, which is objectifying and demeaning. But there have also been times where boys I have never said a word to have destroyed my self esteem with one comment about how un appealing I looked. I don’t know which is worse.
A few weeks ago, I was walking home from picking up groceries and by the time I neared my apartment building, my fingers were red from the cold and aching from carrying my heavy groceries 7 blocks. I grew impatient when a group of two men (construction workers) were walking rather slow in front of me and taking up the whole sidewalk. I said excuse me so they they started to move out of the way when one of them turned around. He stopped and said “Hey there, I’m sorry. Happy New Year, baby.”
This is the second time a strange man has infantilized me in my neighborhood in the three weeks that I’ve lived there.
I came early to see a Fall Out Boy concert at the Concord Pavilion. I was dressed for the concert in my cat crop top and cat tights (I’m guessing this is why there was a bit of a theme between my catcallers). We were all told that if we had parked at the nearby Safeway parking lot, we needed to repark our cars or they’d be towed. I left my friend and walked alone down to Safeway- it was only like 1 PM so I wasn’t afraid of going alone. As I was walking, I heard a whistle from a car that was sitting at a light. I’d never been catcalled before so I was surprised but didn’t respond. A minute or so later a car slowed down next to me. I didn’t notice it at first, but when I glanced up the driver yelled “Me-yow!” before flooring it and speeding away. I’m almost at Safeway when a guy in a red pick-up truck (white, male, mid-40s at least) slows down next to me, just like the other guy, and yells “Why don’t you just show me your pussy?” I picked up my pace so I could just get to Safeway and away from this street. I wasn’t looking forward to walking back.
Two of my friends and I (ages 16, 17, and 19) were in Asbury Park on a Sunday afternoon. While we were walking the two (relatively) short blocks back to where we had parked, these guys who were probably old enough to be my grandfather or much, much older father stared us down and called after us for the block and a half we had left to walk. Having anxiety, I was petrified so I posted on Facebook about how upsetting it was and I got told to “not look so adult” if I didn’t want that to happen and to “keep my feminist bullshit on Tumblr”.
At 11:52 AM today (1/14/15) in NYC, outside of Pushcart Coffee, I was harassed by a Con Edison employee through his unsolicited video taping of me. I was simply sitting outside of the coffee shop on one of the designated benches, drinking my coffee, when I noticed that the driver of the van, who was parked in front of the shop, had raised his phone up and had begun to film me. After about 30 seconds of this behavior from him, I decided to document his harassment. He not only made eye contact with me at this point, acknowledging that he KNEW I was aware of his harassment, but he continued to film me, and even turned to laugh with his partner, who was sitting in the passenger seat. I felt threatened and unsafe in a place that should have been safe for me. I emailed Con Edison with the video I took, as well as a thorough complaint. This is unacceptable and despicable behavior, and I want everyone to see it.
I was walking in the street when a workman started shouting to get my attention. I ignored him but he kept on shouting, repeatedly asking if I’m lost. I stopped and stared back at him with arms crossed and giving him a chilling glare for a few seconds, just until he started feeling uncomfortable and went silent. Then I told him: “I live here, ok?!” and walked off. I then heard him say “Ah, then WE are lost!” -_-
Dear Man sitting in the back seat of the pickup truck passing me by,
I was walking to a poetry reading, listening to wonderful music, feeling the best I had felt all day when you yelled at me. Not that you would know any of this, as our contact was brief. Not that you would care, as you seemed uninterested in me a a human being, but that’s what I was doing. I couldn’t help but immediately wonder if you had yelled because of my leggings, or had just been more inclined to pick me because I was walking fast. I then spent the rest of my walk wondering if I was going to run into you again and thinking that my shadow was the shadow of someone following. I did not smile again until I had walked two blocks away and changed songs. Whatever thought crossed your mind when you shouted out of the window at me, I hope was worthy of ruining five minutes of my day and making me generally uncomfortable. Next time, just keep your head in the window and your thoughts to yourself.
I’m not terribly attractive compared to a lot of other girls I know. Plus I wear baggy hoodies, jeans and my hair’s naturally messy. Even so, I did experience street harassment twice in the past. What happened recently took the cake; even if it wasn’t on the street, where it happened was as public as a street was.
I was at the library, buried in a book. All of a sudden, a guy just sat down on the other end of the couch and said hi. I gave a nod, politely said hi and turned back to the book. The guy looked to be in his 50’s or 60’s. When he started rambling, I nodded and replied with the occasional “mhm” because I was taught to respect your elders.
I began to notice he was slowly sliding over to me. And his eyes were looking everywhere else on my body BUT my eyes. Some of the language he was using made me feel uncomfortable and the stranger began asking me very personal questions.
I made up a quick act about how I’m running late to meet my friend, got up and hustled down the stairs. A moment later, while scanning the bookshelves, I noticed the same guy following me. Panicking, I fast-walked through the library to the girls bathroom. I stayed in there for a few minutes and when I asked another woman to see if the guy was still out there, he was.
Lucky for me, the bathroom had two doors. I used the other exit and ran down the hall to the elevator. I was back upstairs where I could hide out in one of the secluded areas and spy on the first floor through a special window.
It took an hour before that guy left the library. Entire time, he was looking around the first floor.
The library has always been my sanctuary to escape from stress and to relax for awhile. But that creep ruined the library for me. I can’t go back there cause he could return and the librarians won’t do anything about it. The library may not be the street. However it’s still a public place and women do have the right to be in public without harassment.
There are too many, sadly, to report here but I’ll relay few of them: There was one good ol’ boy who was somehow in LA and when I walked by said “Mmmmmm, I’d LOVE to have you between my sheets!” One old man asked me “Would you be willing to model nude for me?” An elderly man was walking toward me on the sidewalk and when I smiled respectfully at the old fella, he leered back with “Mamacita!” (I do not dress provocatively.)
As has been mentioned before, I have often experienced first hand that a man can go from hitting on you to insulting you within seconds if you don’t play his game. It is frightening.
The stupidest comment was one time I had cut my hand badly on a broken glass while washing dishes. I was waiting outside on the sidewalk for a friend to come drive me to the hospital; the towel around my hand was growing increasingly heavier with blood. Two young guys walked by me and one of them said pseudo-suavely “Hello, beautiful”. When I looked away, painfully cradling my gushing hand, he lashed back with “Beauty is as beauty does” with a harsh tone despite the corny cliche. A woman can’t even be injured in peace!!!
Then there’s the bus driver who wouldn’t let me out of the bus until I gave him a kiss. It was bad enough but thank Heaven, not as bad as that could’ve been.
If you’re a woman in NYC, without fail this happens to you every day. When I lived on the UWS there was this spot right by my apartment door where men congregated and they would catcall me every day. (It’s a basement level barber shop on W 83rd St. between Columbus and Amsterdam). There were days I didn’t want to leave. There were times I felt ashamed, or embarrassed. And there have been many many times I have felt unsafe. I have also been followed by men. What people around the country don’t realize when reacting to your PSA, is that in NYC everyone HAS to walk to get around. There is no way for women to avoid this. And as your video shows it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. I have been catcalled when I was dressed conservatively, on bad hair days with no make up, and in winter wearing a giant puffy coat. Across the board, every woman I know in NYC deals with this problem, no matter their background or appearance.