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Today I was at a street festival on H Street in Washington, DC. As I was waiting for the bus to go home, I saw an elderly woman walk by, leaning on a cane for support. Suddenly, the guy who had been standing next to me walked up behind her and slapped her on the ass, then darted away into the crowd, pretending like it wasn’t him. I was shocked and disgusted. There was no goal in his action other than harassment and intimidation. She turned around and glared for a while, looking for the culprit, but no one did anything.
I wish so badly that I had yelled at the guy, or pointed him out afterwards, or gone over to the woman and told her how awful that was and shown my support. But I didn’t do anything, other than take a picture of this vile man after he had run away and crossed the street (he is the one in the striped shirt). I was surrounded by strangers, alone in a strange neighborhood. And it’s exactly this sense of making women feel like these are not their streets that is so awful and harmful. It literally affects how we feel every day when we walk down the street, whether victim or bystander. If I ever see something again, I will say something.
Some things I have learned about myself.
I am not:
An apple, waiting passively for someone to rescue me from the top of a tree.
A side of beef, to be poked at, prodded, jiggled, groped, or spoken about in terms of my juiciness, flavor, or firmness.
A dog, coming at your call.
A toy, to be used whenever and however you want.
A human being. A daughter, a sister, a friend. Someone of worth.
So I damn well better be treated like one.
I was without a lighter and walking with a cigarette in my hand, searching for somebody who was smoking, so they could lend me the fire.
As I passed by a car, a man inside it called me and asked me for my lighter. As I told him that I was also looking for one, he said: “Well, then help me pick up mine in here” as he was holding his dick on his open trouser masturbating.
I kept walking, didn’t say anything. He turned the car on and made the return on the street twice yelling things like “slut” “bitch” and “delicious”. I finally was over me and yelled him to f**k off.
When the days passed by, I could see his car on the street again, until I was alarmed enough to let the police know. I don’t know what they did, but he never came back.
I was walking west along West Grand Avenue, intending to turn left on Brush St to visit my friend’s new apartment. I was hyperaware that I was trying to walk aggressively, with my head up in confidence, to try and deter possible threats. Ahead on the sidewalk were two men, standing near the curb. I elected to not to cross to the other side of the street because at that point, West Grand Ave is six lanes of traffic separated by a median. I was trying to get to my friend’s as efficiently as possible because it was around 7:30pm and I knew it would be dark by eight. As I approached the men, one stepped back towards the building, forcing me to walk between them, or move off the sidewalk into the street. I did not break stride, but in my mind I was thinking, “Oh shit. Oh shit, are these guys going to try and f**k with me?” As I walked between them, the one that had moved towards the building stepped in front of me, grinning. Still not breaking stride, I altered my direction to go around him, and he blocked my path again. I had my head up the entire time, but now I made eye contact with him, thinking, “Are you seriously going to try and f**k with me?” I didn’t necessarily feel afraid at this moment, just incredibly angry that I had to deal with this. I like to think that this was apparent in my glare because the man broke eye contact with me and moved aside. I continued walking without looking back. The other man yelled something out at me, but I did not hear it.
I don’t know if it was my demeanor that made the men let me pass, or if their only intention was just to scare me, but I feel very lucky that I was not mugged/assaulted/groped/raped/kidnapped or any other number of possible outcomes of two men against a much smaller undefended female. I feel very lucky that my fight instinct kicked in instead of my flight instinct, and that I only felt scared by the incident several hours later.
As I was walking home from a party (note: I was very sober at the time) with three to four of my female friends, a group of about four or five (very drunk) males walked past us offering their hands up for high fives. I was in a good mood, so I obliged them, offering my hand in return. I go to a state university. This kind of exchange happens often, so I thought very little of returning their enthusiasm. After the first guy in the group high fived me, he swung his hand around and grabbed my ass. Dismayed, I started to retract my hand, only high fiving one more of his friends. His friend followed suit. Then, all three of the men I did not high five reached over and smacked my ass in turn. I was so shocked I didn’t know how to respond. None of my friends even witnessed it occurring. I was less than a block from home so I just kept walking. However, not being afraid to “hollaback” I lovingly blew them all a kiss and said “Fuck you very much!”
I’ve been continuously harassed by the same student at my four year university. I do not know this individual except as “creepystalker”.
This started three years ago, when I was walking with my boyfriend. Creepy wiggled his eyebrows dramatically and stuck his face close to my breasts. My boy and I laughed it off, until it happened a few days later, this time when I was alone. He stuck his face a few inches from my chest, and mumbled “mmm…boobies”. The following day, when he did it again, my boyfriend (a rather intimidating looking 6’3″, 225 lbs) was with me, and told the guy “hey man, you need to calm down and stop that”. I though that would be the end of it.
Since that day, I have encountered this man about 15 times, and each time he cuts across the hallway specifically to get close to me and my chest. One day, I was studying in the library, with a feeling of unease. I felt like someone was watching me. I turned around, and saw my harasser sitting across my desk. He had completely turned his chair around from the desk position so that he could watch me. I immediately packed up my things and walked out of the library, and he began to follow me. I started running out of the library, and he wasn’t able to keep up and instead stayed at the bottom floor and looked up my crotch as I climbed up the stairwell.
I always think about what I should say. I know that I need to tell this person off. I am graduating, and I know that I will feel uneasy for the rest of my life knowing that this individual is likely making other women feel this way. I have also seen him behaving in this manner towards other women, although usually it involves him glaring at her while she is walking away. I believe this man may be mentally or developmentally handicapped, and this has been one of a few reasons why I have not reported it to university authorities – out of guilt for his condition. But should it really matter?
As a strong feminist, I feel so disappointed that I don’t have the courage to confront this man. Whenever I think up the perfect thing to say, I see him walking towards me and my body starts sweating and shivering, and my mind gets all fuzzy. I can’t even react…I act like a deer in headlights and I am unable to say what I want or cover myself with my books like I planned.
Knowing that this is unfortunately all too common is a sad finding, but it gives me some solace to hear your stories and know that I am not alone in this struggle. I hope to work up the courage to confront him next time.
I was 12 years old, walking to the video store with my cousins (11 and 13) one summer afternoon, when a car slowed as it drove by us. “Haaaaay sexy!” a man shouted to us from the passenger seat. Then they sped away.
I didn’t even process what had happened. I’d never been harassed like that before. I mean, I was a gawky, brace-face pre-teen, still a naive child. What kind of grown man would cat-call me??? Was he dangerous? Did he think we were older than we looked? Was I dressed too provocatively in my shorts and baggy t-shirt? I was so confused.
This was just the first of many instances of verbal harassment I’ve experienced, and probably not the most horrible, but it definitely left an impression.
I was walking home from my boyfriend’s house on a Friday night. Whenever I walk anywhere at night I always walk with a slight “don’t mess with me” type of attitude. I was doing the same thing last night but it didn’t prove effective. While I was walking past a group of guys one of them grabbed me and and asked me if I “wanted his big dick.” I was disgusted! I’ve been street harassed before but never like this. I was dumbfounded and I didn’t know what to do, so I just walked away. I didn’t want to provoke the drunk guy and his friends so walking away seemed like my best option. I’ve never felt so violated before. I know this form of harassment seems tame compared to what could have happened, but it still scared me.
I thought this only happened when I was dressed in somewhat revealing clothes, but I was wrong. I was walking to Ana’s to get some food before going to hang out with friends when one guy walking by on a cell phone stopped right in front of me, stared right at my chest, pulled the phone away from his ear and said “Damn!” before moving on like nothing had happened. I’d become somewhat used to this when wearing low cut tops, sadly enough, but on this day I was wearing a turtleneck. I was so shocked by the rudeness that I couldn’t get it out of my mind for the rest of the day.
I just turned 18, and this story is from a few months ago. I was sitting in the park with a male friend of mine, on a warm spring day. I was wearing a tight mini skirt and a t shirt. I got up and walked across the lawn to the park bathrooms. There were two men sitting on a concrete ledge outside the bathrooms – the man closest to me had grey hair and leathery, sun damaged skin, and his friend was young, maybe in his early twenties, good looking. As I walked past the older guy, he called after me, “Hey there, what’s your name? Spare a cigarette? Hey, who do you think is cuter, me or my friend?” I ignored them and went into the bathroom.
When I came back out, I walked past them quickly, hoping they had taken my silence for an answer and moved on. Instead, the same guy called out to me again, “Hey, come sit with us for a minute!” I kept walking away. “You’ve got nice legs! Thanks for wearing that skirt today and giving me something to look at!” I could hear them both laughing, and I walked even faster.
When I got back to the spot where my friend was waiting for me, I sat down and immediately told him what happened, and described how I wished I had flipped the guys off or yelled back at them, and complained about how this sort of thing happens to me almost every day. He laughed and said, “You do have nice legs though, I like to look at them too…”
I know that the way I dress influences the type and amount of comments I receive when I’m walking around my city alone. I dress however I want to regardless. I like the way I look and I refuse to change the way I present myself out of fear.