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I live in Jakarta Indonesia, and I, like many others who live here, are considered ‘ExPats’. I was born in the states but I’ve traveled my entire life so I’m use to being considered an novelty. I got use to obscene catcalls and slurs thrown at me for being what most indonesians refer to as, ‘blue’ (pronounced boo-lay), which refers to the fact that even for a white person, I’m pretty pale.
But one night, on my friends birthday, we decided to go to a club near our house and school called club 777. I had never been to a club in Indonesia before, and it was late, my boyfriend was homesick, and a lot of my friends were really drunk from the bar we visited earlier, so even just walking into this place, I felt really uncomfortable.
But I shook off that feeling as we got our table, had a couple more drinks, and started to dance. It wasn’t long after that, when a friend of the birthday girl stumbled up to us and started to dance with the group. I had met him before, but it was brief and his english was as limited as my bahasa. He knew I had a boyfriend but as soon as he walked up to us, he moved behind me and tried to grind up against me. Because he was drunk, I moved away and tried to dance somewhere else, but he followed and grabbed at my hips and my waist trying to make me stay. I ended up turning around and telling him to fuck off, shoving him off me, but he grabbed my arm tightly in his hand and shook me saying that all he wanted was to dance. I shoved him off me again and I tried to go sit down in between two of my close guy friends, but when I did, he grabbed my upper arm so hard my shoulder popped and I was dragged out of my seat.
The guys I was with made him leave our area and had one of the bouncers kick him out for disorderly conduct, but after the incident, and after the bruise from how tight his grip was, developed, he still tried to talk to me the following weekend. I heard from one of my friends that still keeps in contact with him, that all he wanted to say, was that he was sorry. Ha. Yeah, right.
I was at a local grocery store a few years ago and a 30-40 year old man got behind me in the check out line. He was talking on his cellphone and then apologized to me for being rude and stated that he was French. I said it was fine and he kept making small talk and I was being polite. He said he worked at GMU, the school I was trying to get admitted into, and asked if I would give him my phone number. Not getting terribly creepy vibes (yet) but still wanting to be safe I gave him my email, thinking that he would be a useful connection. But soon after this he started emailing very often, probably weekly for a solid month or two, inviting me to coffee and tennis and I never responded, because at that point I was definitely creeped out. He eventually gave up. Flash-forward to a couple of years later and I’m at another grocery store and I am in a random aisle when I see the SAME MAN on his cell phone and speaking French (really obvious french words: merci vous cous, etc. over and over again. It was pretty obvious no one was on the other line). Every aisle I turned down he would show up and I kept trying to randomize to avoid him because he would get walk past me staring and trying to get my attention. I got what I needed and went to the checkout counter where he got in line behind me still repeating French on his cell. Then he started to apologize to me for being on the phone and telling me that he was being rude and he was sorry and that he was French. SAME FUCKING CONVERSATION. And over two years after the first encounter. I again said it was fine but made no small talk and high tailed it the hell out of there hoping he wouldn’t remember that he had pulled this shit on me previously and that he actually had my email. And this same fucker came up to me about a month or two ago, this time in a local store. Same routine: incoherent French on his cell home, following me around aisles and trying to apologize for being rude on his phone as a way of initiating conversation. It is really uncomfortable and he invades your space and is extremely persistent. So for anyone who lives in the DC or NoVa area if you encounter this man, who appears to use this ploy at grocery stores around the area regularly, please involve the store security immediately. I know I will if I ever have the misfortune of running into him again.
During my first year of graduate school, I was in charge of a residence hall as part of my graduate assistantship. Because of my position, I was expected to be helpful and friendly to the residents, and to be readily available as I lived in the dorm. It was about 1:30 in the morning, and there was a knock at my door. I open it to find a male resident standing there. He immediately began to hit on me, first saying how hot I looked in my pajamas (sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt). I told him it was inappropriate, so he then started asking asking if I’d go out to a party with him. When I said no, he then repeatedly asked me for my phone number. I told him I was not going to give him my number, and then he started to try to push his way into my room. I slammed the door in his face, and he started yelling through the door calling me a bitch. I called campus police. By the time they showed up, he was gone. They told me to not call back unless he showed signs of physical violence.
After this interaction, he started to follow me around. He didn’t live on my floor, but he would always be out in the common area of my floor when I would leave my room. He would come down and just stare at me while sitting in the main lobby during my office hours. It got to the point that the male RAs in my building would stick around during my office hours as well because they knew how scared I was of him. He also began doing the same thing he was to me to my female RAs, and the other girls in the building. It got to the point that no girl in the building would go anywhere by themselves, even to do laundry. Because he was not being physically violent towards any of us, though, campus police wouldn’t do anything.
After two weeks of this, I couldn’t take it any more. I was playing pool with a few people, and he was getting a little too close to me. I turned around and hit him in the face with the pool stick I was holding. His nose started to bleed. He got angry, and I told him that if he did any of what he had been doing again, he’d get a lot worse. He left me, and all the other girls in my building alone after that.
I knew that working in India as a single, light-skinned woman who did not speak a word of any Indian languages would not be a walk in the park. However, I was not expecting the onslaught and veritable inundation of street harassment. I live in Goa, which is known to be one of India’s most liberal, progressive provinces. But stepping outside my home near my job, I would never know it.
At first, I thought the constant calls of “Hello, beautiful!” and “Be my girlfriend!”or “Give me your number!” were just harmless fun, trying to grab the attention of an obvious tourist. I had a rude awakening of that when a man outside my apartment complex told me he loved me. I laughed it off as he reached out to shake my hand. When I gave it to him to shake, he wouldn’t let go, and took my hand and attempted to shove it down his pants. I managed to get away and ran back into my apartment, where my roommate, a Ghanian man, was as shocked about the ordeal as I was.
That’s another way we’ve been harassed here in Goa. As we’re living together (we’re colleagues and work at the same NGO), my Ghanian roommate and I go out to eat rather frequently. I’ve grown to accept that people will stare at the two of us when we’re together or when we’re alone, but people will also say very racist things to the both of us and constantly take pictures of us, with or without our consent. Again, at first I didn’t mind this and attributed it to the fact that we were a novelty. However, as people continued to treat us like we were some toy to be played with, I became a little less happy with the situation. This experience was epitomized by one night when my roommate and I went out to a club. People were constantly asking for our pictures, and finally, wanting to have a good night and not pose for photos the whole time, we started saying no. Instead of accepting that answer, locals would grab us by the arm, leg, and (I can’t say they did this to him, but they definitely did it to me) butt, and drag us into pictures and dances. Men kept taking my drinks from me, drinking out of them, and throwing them on the floor. I started to flip off the camera or do the “WoW” symbol with my face every time they forced me into pictures with them unwillingly, so if you see any of those on the internet, know that I didn’t want them taken and those people are not my friends – in fact, from the way they treated us, I sort of doubt that they considered my roommate and I as particularly human. After about two hours of being paraded around as some sort of carnival freaks merely because of the color of our skin, a security guard noticed and escorted US out, saying we were causing too much of a stir – doing nothing about the others. All of this happened at the biggest (and perhaps most touristy) club in Baga – Tito’s Beach Club.
In the town that I live, I’ve been followed down streets, photographed without my consent, chased after, grabbed, and groped. Men have tried to pay me for sex constantly, offering 400 rupees (about $8) if I’ll have sex with them, and not relenting until I start yelling. In perhaps what was the scariest instance while I’ve been here, I took a wrong turn on the way back from work. I’d been working late, so it was dark, and I was alone. First, a security guard tried to force me to come into an apartment complex, saying that it was where I lived. Because I am not an idiot, I knew was not mine. Luckily enough, a cab was nearby and I hopped inside. My fears were not quelled as the driver took me on some roundabout, clearly incorrect way of getting to the place that I was going. As I knew where we were and were going into a much less populated area, I demanded he let me out of the car. He wouldn’t, but when I opened my window and made a scene he started to drive directly towards my apartment. There, he wouldn’t let me out of the cab, insisting we go get coffee or that he let me inside. I wouldn’t do it, and was struggling to find the lock for the door when the security guard from my apartment complex came over and asked what was happening. After a conversation with the cabbie in the local language, the cabbie demanded my phone number and he said he would leave, if I would go to get coffee with him tomorrow. I didn’t see that I had any choice, so I gave him my number. Since then, he has called or texted me saying he loves me every single day, trying to meet up. It’s been 2 weeks. I’ve blocked his number, but he keeps calling on friends’ phones or getting friends to call me and ask me if I’m still in Goa. At this point, since he knows where I live, I’m actually pretty worried he’s going to show up outside my apartment. I really wish I’d gotten his license plate.
I knew that working in India as a white female wouldn’t be easy. But really, it would be a breeze if the harassment would stop.
I was leaving my bank the other day and a man standing outside yelled “Hey pretty lady!” I ignored him and started to walk away, he said “Oh, no love? How about a kiss then?” I said “Fuck no,” and turned around to walk away. I got two steps when he screamed “BITCH!” The sidewalk was full of people, most of whom stopped to stare at the man, so I turned around and yelled back “If telling sexist assholes like you to fuck off because you think you can make comments about how I look makes me a bitch, then you bet I’m a huge fucking bitch!” The man obviously didn’t have the brain power to respond and just stood there, and three women standing nearby clapped. Serves him right.
Sorry guys, this a long one. I have a lot to vent about today!
I have experienced street harassment on a regular basis since I was thirteen years old. Since the tiniest hint of a figure first appeared on me, I have been cat called and wolf whistled at more times than I care to remember. Now, at twenty five, I like to think that I have a pretty thick skin for these sorts of things. I can usually manage a hearty FUCK YOU or at the very least ignore the person until they get bored. My most recent experience with street harassment happened this morning and was too much even for me to handle.
I usually ride my bike to work. It’s a nine mile commute into downtown which, despite the hills and the occasional 6:00 a.m. creeper (why yell at a sweaty, sleepy girl toiling uphill on a bicycle?!), I thoroughly enjoy. I get some excercise AND avoid taking the bus, and even better – avoid bus stops. But this morning I woke up and didn’t feel too hot. I am getting over being sick/stressed for the past few days so I figured I would conserve my energy for my shitty service job and take the bus.
In order to get to my job I have to transfer buses at 3rd and Pike – a stop known by every Seattle-ite for its constant and horrid retinue of bums, thugs, transient workers, street kids, crackheads, and the small smattering of normal people just trying to get to work. So this morning I walk out of the bus tunnel onto the crowded sidewalk and steel myself for what awaits.
I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t be as terrible as I remembered. It was so darn early … who would have the energy to bother someone? As it turned out, a lot of people did. Here is what happened in the less than five minutes I spent waiting for my bus: two workers drove by and the man in the passenger seat made a kissing face/noise at me; a man asked me for money and insisted on trying to hug/kiss me when I refused; a man stared openly at me and raised his eyebrows in a leering manner, then followed me onto the bus and sat directly across from me, staring at me until he got off. All this on top of feeling sick and exhausted. By the time I finally made it to work I was nearly in tears.
This is not ok. It’s not ok that when I want to take the bus to have a more ‘relaxing’ morning I wind up feeling objectified, demeaned, and demoralized. It’s not ok that when I ride my bike I am made to feel like a rolling piece of meat. It sickens me that I can’t walk to the grocery store or wait at a crosswalk without being openly stared at. Even in a city of lonely tech nerds where guys haven’t interacted with a woman outside of OKcupid, reddit, or 4chan … This is not alright. Seriously, Seattle. Let’s end this shit!
I was sitting in the park, reading a book, and a car drove by. One guy stuck his head out of the window and made a horrible noise. I ignored it. The car went around the block, I presume, because it came back and all of them yelled stuff like “Fags are GAY!” “I HATE YOU!” Scared the crap out of me
I was sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight when a group of men and one woman sit near me. I was listening to music and trying to watch a video that my friend had sent me when I noticed the men kept trying to interact with me. I wasn’t sure if I had dropped something, so I took out my headphones to see what they had to say. One of them said “my friend here has been checking you out since we got here. Now I’m not gonna lie, I have been too.” The woman told me to “just go with it”. I nodded and looked away when they kept asking me about where I was going and where I was from. Alone and scared, I panicked and I began to lie about my name, where I was from, and where I was going. I stood up and quickly walked away, trembling and confused. I didn’t know if I should tell anyone, but my friend was texting me telling me it would be okay and to just get near people.
I was exiting Dollar Tree when I noticed two men (30’s or so) staring at me and muttering to each other as they entered another store. I walked across the street to another business, and was recommended to the store back across the street. I entered, got the estimate I was looking for, and I turned to exit when I saw both men walking towards the door. One of them opened it, and I said “Thanks” and as I passed them, the other one said “What a gentleman.” And the man who opened the door said, “What a LADY!” both loud enough so I could hear. They both leered at me as I walked briskly away.
I was waiting in line outside a concert venue and this drunk man made his way through the line talking to different people. He got up to me and kept saying I pretty I was and kept leaning in really close to me. Asking if he could hug me. I said no and told him to back away from me and he wouldn’t. Eventually he did walk away but it scared me a lot. And no one else in the line said or did anything even though they saw what happened.