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Hi. I waved and smiled to thank you for letting me pass your truck. As you drove by you casually called me a “fag”. Next time I’ll be sure to extinguish my cigarette in your eyeball! Coward. Hollaback!
Back in the early 2000′s when I was in secondary school I was very shy, quiet and known as the class “square” and one of the “popular” guys who I’ll call “M” especially made my life hell, he once announced loudly that one day if I was lucky, I might get raped, in assembly he once got all the classmates between him and I to pass on a message to me that he thought I was “hot” so I had to endure them all sniggering and laughing at me while he sat back full of smug pride.
He used to try and gear the teachers towards yelling at me for any tiny excuse he could find, once he stole my pe kit and made a show of sniffing the bag and refusing to return it. He started several pass-around surverys during classtimes titled “is Lydia the class prostitute?” and also “do u think Lydia wears thongs?”
During a school play when it was my turn to sing he wooped really loudly and made a growling sound which everyone laughed at. I refuse to believe it was from attraction, I feel it was because I was an easy target who would never dare to answer back.
I always look back on my secondary school time with strong bitter hatred and embarrassment, I don’t think I could ever forgive him for how he treated me.
I do feel however that my ordeal has made me into the stronger person I am today, now I always make a point of confronting my harassers and standing up for myself.
…I do just hope one day I might run into M, who for the record is now balding, pot bellied and very different from the athletic cocky “bad boy” who tormented me in school…. and give him a punch.
I go running in my neighborhood several times a week. I used to run by this apartment complex until some guy started coming outside to watch me and whistle, yell, and generally be obnoxious. At first it was just whistling, but then he started catcalling and the next time I went by his friends were with him! I had to change up my route to avoid going near that complex. I’m always happy when I can get through my miles without getting honks, yells, whistles, and catcalls. This is a college town and it’s annoying to not be able to get my exercise in peace!
I was at a bar with my cousin and her friends. This older man walked up to our table and started chatting one of the women across the table from me, and at one point, I thought I saw him pinch her cheek. She was smiling, didn’t say anything, and I went back to paying attention to my phone.
I must not have been paying enough attention to this man, because I felt him pinch my cheek. I almost smacked him I whipped my head and hand around so fast. I put my finger out at him and said, “Don’t. You. Ever. Touch me. It’s not appropriate to touch a woman you don’t know.” He wandered off, but them came back to “apologize” and he said, “it was disrespectful of me because maybe your boyfriend wouldn’t like it.” I said, “it was disrespectful because it was disrespectful and inappropriate.” He wandered off again, and came back a third time to chat up my cousin’s friend again, looking at me time and again. By this point, she had also begun telling that she was not interested, and he left us alone after that.
(after a brief, otherwise polite conversation)
Stranger: You should smile.
I ignored him and walked out of the store.
These clever guys in my DC neighborhood use this adorable pickup gimmick when I bike home after work: they slow their car, make comments about my body, and even stop traffic to “cheer me on” as I slowly bike uphill. What would I do without their compliments and attention each day? Street harassment is the BEST. So far, three different cars have done this – one was a group of young college-age men, and the other two have been individuals. Tonight was a man who actually pulled over to wait for me after following me side-by-side for a block as I bicycled uphill, stopping traffic and making me worried I’d get followed. Luckily, people started honking and he drove away, but I was worried he’d catch me later on in my commute. I wish him a thousand flat tires.
I was walking back to work throught the skyway in downtown St. Paul. A man started walking close to me and making disgusting and perverted comments about my body. I gave him a stern look and he then became more aggressive. He said “how am I not supposed to say anything to you”. He followed me and continued to make comments. I then looked at him and said “you are being disrespectful. Leave me alone”. He continued to make comments and follow me for a short while, but then left. There were other people around and no one said anything. I then had to either get into an elevator or climb a set of stairs to get back to my office and I was afraid.
I passed by the hired security guards daily because their desk is directly across from the elevators at my university. One guard (who I’ve never spoken to) would make me feel uncomfortable because he would stare at me as I waited for the doors to close. I often tried to look busy so I didn’t have to make eye contact with him. I was leaving campus one day and he FOLLOWED ME through the lobby, out the door and into the parking lot. I didn’t notice until he caught up to me and stopped to ask me, “what’s your name?”… Really? A security guard was following me through the parking lot? After that, I took the stairs to 8th floor so that I didn’t have to see him. The next year I found out he was fired for harassing other female students.
I’m verbally harassed in public at least twice a month. The latest I can remember was when I was in the grocery store at night, alone, passing by a man who was obviously checking me out while he was on the phone asking his wife or girlfriend which kind of frozen waffles to buy. He passed by me in a different isle as he was walking to the checkout line and said, “girl, I could eat you up like chocolate”. Who says this stuff?!?! Situations like this happen to me so many times I feel like all I can do is pretend I didn’t hear them. Even then I’m called names for not engaging in conversations with them. I shouldn’t need a boyfriend with me to not be harassed at the grocery store.
I was 15 and I was on the TTC Dufferin bus when a man sat down beside me. It wasn’t very crowded, but he still sat right next to me. The man pulled his backpack over his chest and lap. After a few minutes, I felt his hand brush my side. I mumbled “excuse me”, and shuffled a bit to the side. He shuffled closer and slowly started grabbing my side. I got up quickly and rang the request stop bell, even though I was still several stops away. He muttered a soft, “sorry” and I was too scared to say anything except “It’s okay”.
I wish I’d been brave enough to tell him it’s not okay. It’s not okay to touch a woman against her will. It’s especially not okay to touch a woman against her will when you’re 20 years older and she’s a teenager.