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VN’s story: Telling Him How It Is

If you didn’t know, Wednesdays are half-off clothes at the Salvation Army in the Southside. This particular Wednesday proved more trying than just finding some good deals. As I walked the stairs up to the second floor, a man gave me a look over and a “compliment.” I said thanks and kept walking up the stairs, grateful that we were headed in opposite directions. To my dismay, he decided to turn around and come back up after I had begun browsing the racks. He asked if I was married, if I had kids, or if I had a boyfriend. He told me I should be on the cover of sports illustrated in a little bikini (the was in the winter and I was wearing jeans and a cape style jacket, not figure flattering). I was followed around the store for what felt like an hour trying to politely be an asshole and dismiss him, saying “no” and “probably not” to everything he said. He tried to get me to try on some work slacks. I made a sarcastic joke about how I could wear them to my corporate job (I also had blue hair at this time) and he responded with a sexist and inappropriate comment about how all the guys in the office would be checking out my ass (which was currently covered and potentially very flat for all he knew). He had some lunch he had been neglecting and after several of my suggestions to go eat it, he finally did.

Relieved I no longer had to deal with this guy, I went to text my friend and tell him about this crazy situation I had encountered. Unfortunately, this man returned. This time it wasn’t to ask me a million questions and follow me around the store but to ask for my phone number because apparently the little voices inside his head told him. I said no. He asked if that was how it was going to be, I said yes, and he left.

I browsed the clothes for quite a while longer and contemplated asking my friend to come pick me up. I didn’t want to walk home. What if this guy was downstairs waiting for me? What if he followed me home? I took an unusual route home and thankfully haven’t seen that guy since.

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32+

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Ziva’s Story: Heckling an Officer

I’m from Israel, just done with military service and visiting family in America. I was wearing a shirt with “Israeli Defense Force” written across the front and shorts, wandering with my family to look at shops. A man was catcalling at us, and when we didn’t respond, he walked up behind me and grabbed me by the shoulder to turn me around and make more comments. He saw my shirt and said it was “cute” that a pretty girl like me was pretending to be a soldier.

So I broke his nose.

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65+

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Sarah’s Story: “They harass everyone, no matter looks”

I was walking to a grocery store when I realized the voices behind me were following me no matter what speed I was at, and to make it better they were talking about my body. I turned down a well known street. Why is it well known? A neighborhood cop lives there. Of course as I turned they had one last thing to say, “I will ride your pussy!”. I wasn’t about to give up my trip to the store so I took the long route, unfortunately that gave them enough time to go to DQ and come back, as soon as I saw them in the distance and they saw me (unfortunately I had a brightish pink sports tanks on with the same pink strip on my exercise shorts) they immediately turned in my direction and sped up, so I ran like the wind to my street where I saw an older couple walking. This is my mom uploading the story for me, but I am only 14 and the boys harassing me were my age or younger.
P.s. Though it shouldn’t matter how you are dressed I was dressed VERY modestly, knee length baggy shorts, three finger strap on tank top, sports bra so I wasn’t even very large in the chest area at the time. My point is they harass everyone no matter looks, and parents need to not only tell girls how to avoid these situations but tell there boys how amazingly stupid and horrid harassment is.

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32+

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Melissa’s Story: Pushy Poser

I was in the town I went to college in on a night out with some friends. As we were walking down the street, these two very drunk guys approached my friends and I, who were walking side-by-side three across. There was room on the sidewalk for them to have gone to one side to get around us, but instead the started approaching us head-on, forcing us to split up. My 2 friends went around them to the right and I went around them to the left, and as I did so the one closest to me grabbed me with his arms over my shoulders like he was trying to give me a very agressive hug, saying, “Hey beautiful, where you going?” I freaked out completely, pushed him away and yelled, “Get the fuck off me!” Everyone around us stared and my friends didn’t understand why I was so upset, but I’m sure if it had been one of them in my place they would have been just as PISSED to have some random guy assume it was okay to grab them that way.

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33+

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Tina’s Story: “Harassment has to stop”

As a white woman with a lot of curves, I have received a lot of attention while growing up. The attention started with honks from truck drivers when I was 13, and has continued through my high school, college, and post grad life.

The most off-putting and infuriating experience was at Towson Town Mall in Towson, Maryland during my first year of college. I had an errand to run, so instead of going with a group of friends like I usually would I went by myself. While taking an escalator down to my next stop, a man at the top of the stairs started shouting. “Damn, white girl! Look at that ass!” I presume that he was referring to me, but I was not about to turn around to check. When I didn’t not respond, he shouted again- “Girl, I’m tryin’ to holla at you! Turn around” By this time I was getting off the escalator and started walking a bit faster towards my next stop and he shouts again- “Bitch, I’m talking to you. Turn the fuck around.”

I’m feeling threatened by the point in the “conversation” and steer my path in front of two security guards, hoping they would interfere and ask the man to leave me alone.

Instead, as I walk by the officers, still being followed by the shouting man, the two security guards say “Oh damn, girl. How you doin??”

I quickly turned into the closest store, and hid behind stands to get out of their line of sight. I still think about that moment, 5 years later.

How could it be that NO ONE interfered? Not one bystander said anything. Not one security guard said anything. I didn’t say anything. This is NOT something that I should feel ashamed of.

What I find most frustrating about situations like these is that when I debriefed and told a group of college friends, at least one reaction is:

Well, Tina. You have to learn not to go to the mall by yourself anymore.

or

You do have a really large ass, so I can see why he would say something.

Harassment has to stop.

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40+

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Lo’s Story: Never Forget

It was a hot night in the middle of a sweltering Pittsburgh summer. I was wearing a sun dress out one night with friends. At the end of the night, my friend and I went to get food. I stood in the doorway of a gyro shop as she scanned around to see if there were any tables. My backside was in the doorway toward the street. All of a sudden, I felt this weird sensation on, around, and then in my vagina. It honestly took me a few seconds to put together what was happening. By then it was too late. I whipped my head around and saw the guy run off down the street.

I burst into tears, and my friend came running over. I told her what happened and we started walking home, both of us horrified. By some stroke of luck, we walked past a cop who was already arresting this drunk kid. We stood nearby and waited to report it. When it was our turn, we told the cop what happened. He looked me up and down and told me I shouldn’t of been wearing a dress, and did nothing else.

Who gave this man the right to touch my body? Where did he get the nerve to put his hand up a stranger’s dress and inside her body, on a crowded street? Why was it my fault that this happened? All I can do now is never forget; stay angry and fight back to help protect myself and other women.

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64+

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Kaylee’s Story: Pitbulls and Perpetrators

My 14 year old neighbor and I (24) were waiting for my car to finish being cleaned at the car wash, so we decided to take a short walk with my two pitbulls (the most loving, affectionate, and well behaved dogs I have ever met).

During our 40 minute walk along the sidewalks of this busy shopping area we were honked at and/or catcalled 5 times, from what I can only assume to be 5 separate cars. I could not tell what car it was coming from on any occasion. I felt so disrespected and all I could think about was that I was younger than my neighbor the first time this happened to me, maybe 12. It was broad daylight, on a Thursday, in what I considered a safe area. I live on that street. It makes be feel less safe in my home. At the beginning of the walk I was most concerned that my neighbor was holding onto the leash properly so that my younger puppy would not run out into the road. By, the end of the walk, I was consumed with a feelings of fear and apprehension about being in my own neighborhood.

I love breaking down the stereotypes about my dogs breed, and showing people that they can be and are well-behaved love bugs. After all the catcalls and verbal harassment I have received since I was 12, I think I am ready to fight the ignorance some men have in thinking that this kind of harassment is a compliment or is in any way anything less than threatening.

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33+

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Adriana’s Story: “I deserve to feel free”

I was walking out of my apartment building in Brooklyn, heading to the bus stop to take the ride into the city for class. As soon as I exited the lobby, a few guys were standing outside. One proceeded to yell at me. I forget what he said… it was something to get my attention.

I didn’t make any faces, I didn’t make any noises, I simply ignored him. How did I know if he was actually talking to me? He got upset or bothered by the fact that I didn’t respond to his request for attention or affection. So he threw his food at me. It missed me by a few inches, as I was walking away from him, I saw it in my peripheral vision. That made me uneasy. What gave him the right to throw his food at me because I didn’t respond to his advance? A vulgar advance, an unsolicited advance.

I used to walk around Brooklyn with baggy clothes on, oversized hoodies, sneakers to get away from people quick if needed be. Then I decided to move, because living that way is absurd. I deserve to feel free, to feel safe, to feel secure. Now I do.

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48+

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Prometheus’ Story: “My friend was mortified”

First of all, I am sorry for my anonymity. I just feel more comfortable that way. And this happened to my friend and I about two years ago.

I was showing one of my friends around a town I work in, taking her to all of my favorite shops and pointing out bakeries. Now, I never get catcalled. I’m overweight, my hair is a bit of a frizzy mess, and I also have the benefit of being built like a bear. My friend however is itty bitty and stunningly attractive. But she is unfamiliar with this kind of harassment since she is from a rural farming community.

I had noticed a man had been following a similar route as us, deviating only a bit to look at shops. But he never got more than thirty feet away from us. It made me rather uneasy, so I quietly told my friend to be a bit careful. Within minutes he decided to make his move. He just walked up and picked her up by her breasts, not even looking at me! He was outright trying to walk off with her, just like that!

My friend was mortified, and I was PISSED. I put my hands over his face and yanked him backwards to stop him before he could actually run off. He ended up letting go of my friend and running away himself after taking a punch at me.

My friend panicked, and she ran out into a more busy street. I couldn’t catch up to her very easily because of my weight, but I could hear people catcalling her and hollaring, the whole nine yards. By the time I found her she was just curled up and crying beside a trashcan.

The worst part is, even though the police tried really hard, they were unable to find the guy who tried to carry her off. My friend is mortified at the idea of walking around in any town now, this really shook her up, even so long afterwards.

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91+

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Em’s Story: Rad Response

This morning, traveling on the bus to work, in Brisbane’s inner northside, I had an odd and unnerving experience. I was seated in the front of the bus, in the wheelchair-accessible area where the seats face each other across the aisle. As I sat reading, I would look up occasionally to see where we were at. I also noticed the man directly opposite me staring. EVERY. TIME. He would avert his eyes when I looked at him. Now, I am used to catching the attention of others, as I dress and do my hair in the 1940s-1950s style so I did not pay much attention to this.

What DID catch my attention is when the flash of his mobile phone went off. It caught the attention of the lady next to me too and probably some other passengers. I looked up and saw that he was holding his phone on his knees and aiming it directly at me. I looked pointedly at him and all of a sudden he is so engrossed in his phone that he is no longer making eye contact with me. His behaviour indicated to me that this wasn’t an accidental knock of his camera.

I knew my stop was coming up so I got up and stood in the aisle and peeked over his phone. He was obviously on some kind of social media/photo-sharing program – possibly Instagram but I’m not sure. I was indignant. How dare this stranger take a photo of me, uninvited AND upload my image without my permission?! I am used to being stopped in the street for photos and to discuss my attire, and will generally oblige as most people are respectful and polite. But this guy? He was covert and secretive about it and it made his intent appear very creepy and weird.

Before I got off the bus, I leant over him and said politely, “Most people have the manners to ask to take my photograph.” He just hunched up and shook his head as if denying what he had just done. I wish I had been quicker of wit and returned the favour by taking my own photo of him.

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