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Kat’s Story: Don’t touch me!

Ok, so I have two stories.

Don’t touch me!: Ok, so I am a really small person, and I look like a little kid, even though I’m 26. I also have really nice red curly hair. People are constantly commenting on it and trying to run their hands through it. It annoys me so much that they think they can do it, just because they think I’m small enough that I won’t fight back. Unfortunately they usually touch it and run, before I can say anything. But this one day really stands out in my mind. I work in a wine store and I was helping a gentleman find a nice bottle of red wine. I showed him my favourite. He says, with a wink, “You must drink a lot of this to know it’s your favourite”. Ok, dumb, annoying, but I hear it all the time. He then proceeds to stroke my face with his knuckle. I was dumbfounded. Also being at work, I can’t exactly tell him to fuck off. He just paid and left. I told my co-worker about it, and she asked what he looked like so we can bar him. Unfortunately, I can’t remember. You’d think I would. Fuck.

Second Story: So, the other day I was going to the bus stop to go to work. It was really hot–around 37 degrees–and I was wearing shorts and a tight black t-shirt, and had my work pants in a bag so I could change. I stopped a stop a little ways from the bus stop I needed, because the sun had come out and I wanted to change my glasses to my sunglasses. There was a creepy guy sitting there (probably old enough to be my father) and he says “ooo, you have an iPod Nano”. I said I didn’t know. He says “Oh, you’re going to *love* what I have” as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an iPhone. I said I actually didn’t like Apple and only had an iPod because it was free. I then curtly said I had to go catch my bus and left. It’s not as bad as some stuff I read here, and maybe I’m making too big a deal of it, but I didn’t like the vibe. Plus I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened if I had been wearing baggy jeans and a hoodie. Thanks for letting me holla to you guys, even though I should have told him to go away!

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13+

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Angelique’s story: I don’t have an “all or nothing” idea about what beauty is

This has been happening to me for 51 years. people come up to me and ask me “what is wrong with your face?” and get mad at me if i don’t want to explain that it was partially paralyzed from medical (birth) malpractice. i don’t see why i ‘have’ to repeatedly talk about that; it happens before anything about me is asked, as if that’s all there is to me, period. my family didn’t raise me to think of myself as ‘wrong’ simply because of that incident, and i have gone ahead and tried to enjoy and live my life like anyone else. when i look in the mirror, i can appreciate my features; i don’t have an “all or nothing” idea about what beauty is, much less what an ‘acceptable’ human body is. this seems to be really lost on some people. i’ve noticed that those who don’t act as though i ‘must’ explain my body to them are generally positive in their attitude about life overall, and can make thoughtful remarks rather than presumptuous ones about me (such as “you must hate yourself/want to commit suicide/be in denial if you are happy, successful, have relationships with guys, etc.” what can i say to those people to make it clear i deserve as much respect as an individual as anyone else?

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21+

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Paige’s Story: I wasn’t “asking” for this

I was walking from the subway to my apartment in the pouring rain. It was really hot out, so I was wearing a relatively low-cut yoga top and pretty short shorts. I wasn’t wearing makeup or trying to flaunt my body in any way. It was just hot out. A man on a bike (I’m guessing in his 30s) rides past me and says, “Nice.”

I wasn’t “asking” for this. I’m infuriated that this man couldn’t control himself, ESPECIALLY because he was on a bike and therefore didn’t expect a response from me.

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12+

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Layne’s Story: “I raised my middle finger right up at his grinning face”

I’m submitting this story here, for the widest distribution possible. It happened to me in Florence, Italy in early June 2012. With summer vacation upon us, many women from different countries will be visiting Italy and I want to warn them of the possibility of this sort of “attack.”

I was wearing a knee-length summer dress, walking with my husband past the Uffizi Gallery, towards the Piazza della Signoria. My husband was walking several steps ahead of me, when I felt hands run up the backs of my thighs and my skirt was lifted up to my waist. It was surreal. A crowd of people laughed as I whipped around to see who had done this. It was a young man with some sort of face paint. I don’t know if he was a “performance artist” attempting to amuse passers-by, or whatever. I did the first instinctive thing that came to me (for better or for worse) … I raised my middle finger right up at his grinning face and then strode away after my husband (who never saw this happen).

I got increasingly stressed out over this incident, remembered the feel of his hands dragging up my skirt – I felt so violated! It ruined the rest of our time in Florence, since I kept thinking I might run into him again, or someone else would try something.

So my warning to all women visiting Florence – wear pants, and be aware that there are some misguided souls out there trying to make a buck.

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17+

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Lizzy’s Story: Not the first time

I was walking to the tram today and passed 3 bald guys and one girl walking in the opposite direction. It’s a small pathway behind the houses and although well lit, not exactly great. It was broad daylight however, about 4pm. As I walked past one of the burly baldies, one of them decided it’d be a really great idea to go in for the good old bum-slap routine.

He muttered “you know what? you are…” followed by a quick slap to my bum!

I didn’t turn or react at all and continued on my walk, because I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of thinking it even registered. Fortunately I found it quite amusing but nobody should have to go through something like that and it could have been someone who was more upset by it than me.

Not the first time a man has done something on this same pathway. I’ll post my other story separately.

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10+

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CS’s Story: Vulnerable

I was walking to the subway on Bond Street on my way to work at about 8:30 this morning when a 6’3, skinny kid in a blue sweatshirt with gray sleeves came around the corner of the building at Fulton Street and made a grabbing motion at my chest. He mumbled something inaudible and pulled his hand back without actually touching me. By the time I realized it had been an intentional motion, he had gone past. I turned and said “what the f**k? Get off!” but none of the 8 or 9 other people in the area reacted. As I looked back at him he looked at me over his shoulder and maintained eye contact as he walked away until I ran in the same direction I had been going and stopped once I could stand with my back against a building to text my boyfriend before continuing to work. I wasn’t thinking quickly enough to get a picture.
I think maybe the kid was just trying to be creepy- he succeed. Just the look in his eyes was so menacing, like he didn’t actually do anything to hurt me, but wanted me to know he could have if he had wanted to. I had taken my pepper spray off my keychain before a flight last week, but I’ll put it back on this evening. I’ll probably take a different train to work for a while too. What really pisses me off is how vulnerable it made me feel, even though physically I’m fine. Ugh.

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9+

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Annodam’s Story: “Creeper Accidentally-On-Purpose Brushed My Hand”

When I go to Planet Smoothie, I want a goddamn smoothie, not a wannabe Smooth-E. Unfortunately, it seems I got both.

About 9:30 PM on a Monday night. Creeper is a slim male in his 20s-early 30s, works at the Planet Smoothie in the Amtrak terminal. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see his nametag. I had just paid for my drink and was reaching for it; as I grabbed it, Creeper accidentally-on-purpose brushed my hand and said something to the tune of “hold up baby, where you from?” I couldn’t hear very well and the hand touch may well have been an accident, so maybe I’m overreacting. Anyone else had any problems here?

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8+

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Tania’s Story: Stop harassing me

Thank you Parisians in the Pernety metro, December 2008 for standing like marble statues when a man leered at me, followed me around and nearly made me fall onto the rails when inching further from him. Thank you Parisians standing in the metro to Montparnasse Bienvenue, December 2008 when a drunk fool kept making lewd comments at my friends and me, and for calling my friend “a bit chocolate” because of her Indo-Mauritian ethnicity. Thank you people of Bordeaux Rue Sainte Catherine, April 2009 for sniggering when a man spat on my friend and me calling us dirty immigrants. Thank you people on Rue Mouffetard, July 2009 for laughing when some douchebag yelled “Suce ma bite” (suck my dick) at me, just because I was eating a baguette. And the gold medal goes to my wonderful neighbours for 9 months’ worth of daily cat calls, “Bienvenue a Hong Kong” (welcome to Hong Kong), kicking footballs at my feet because it was “fun” trying to make me trip, and repeating my sentences like parrots/kids when I tried to get you to stop harassing me.

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21+

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Hanna’s Story: “They Were Far Too Close for Comfort”

I had just finished hanging out with a guy I really liked at a restaurant down town and decided to walk the 200 feet to the public library to wait for my dad to come pick me up. I was dressed pretty cutely as I had just been on a date. It was raining and I was about half way to the library with a hundred feet or so to go. I stayed close to the Butler Center, (a public research outlet) under the eave, out of the rain. I saw two apparently homeless men approach me. “Hey pretty lady”, the first one called out as the other shot me a lecherous grin. I gave them my best ‘get the hell away from me’ look but they only came nearer. They essentially had me trapped up against the building. As someone who follows the Innocent Until Proven Guilty mindset I didn’t want to cry rape. What if they just wanted a little money? But now they were far to close for comfort. I was scared shitless. I couldn’t take on two men, and no one was out in the rain. But, out of nowhere another man was merely walking from one building to another like I, and saw the whole situation unfold. “Leave the young lady alone” he commanded the two men in a stern voice. They glanced at him but did not move. “I said leave her alone” he reiterated. At that they turned and walked on. “Thank you!” I cried out to my hero before booking it to the library. There, with my knees knocking, I phoned my dad and requested that he come inside and walk with me back to the car. Though I was not hurt it was terrifying and I hate to think what could have been.

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17+

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M. E.’s Story: “Keep your hands to yourself”

Today at a corner store in San Francisco my sister was grabbed by this man, whom she had never seen before. He cornered her and tried to hit on her, pulled on her skirt (like one does to see how full the skirt is), then grabbed her hand and kissed her all the way up her arm. She was terrified and broke away, but he followed her when she went out of the store. She called me in a panic. My sister lives in one of the most progressive cities in the country, and this is the second time this week she’s been harassed.

Taking one’s style of dress, appearance, or demeanor into account is irrelevant when talking about sexual harassment – NO ONE wants or invites or deserves this kind of behavior, no matter what they dress like or do on their own time – but even so, my sister dresses conservatively and told the man she had a husband at home. It didn’t matter, he kept going. No one in their right mind could say that this is acceptable behavior or that she “asked for it.”

Street harassment has happened to every woman I know. It’s happened to me. I’ve usually been too scared to say anything: it’s only recently I’ve learned I can tell a man “that’s not OK.” But I shouldn’t need to say that. Women deserve to feel safe when they go to the store. It’s something this schmuck should have learned in preschool: keep your hands to yourself.

I've got your back!
19+

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