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I wrote this for a class, as a way to make visible the daily harassment that goes on at my school. These are accounts of my experiences, written in the second person.
Men Who Whistle and Howl Like Dogs
The Men Who Dwell In Dark Basements:
While at a house party with your friends, you decide to walk downstairs to the basement to grab a beer. On your way down, someone grabs your ass. You turn around to say something, but the basement’s too damn dark and crowded to make one person out from another.
Beer in hand, you make your way back up the stairs only to have your ass grabbed again. You turn around and this time find yourself face to face with two greasy muscle heads. They both smirk as one steps closer towards you—you can smell the alcohol on his breath. “Yo baby, we wer’ just tryin’ to be friendly,” he says as he looks you up and down. You step forward and try to move through them, telling them to get the hell out of your way, but it’s like trying to move a mountain. The one on your right starts grabbing at you with his coarse hands, the other one stands back and commentates, “Oh yeah, you like that don’t you. Don’t you.” Your whole body clenches up in fear as you push yourself against the wall, trying to escape his desperate pawing. Fortunately, only about a minute goes by (although it feels like forever), before a friend comes bounding down the stairs and pulls you to safety. The grease heads scurry away. You can hear them chuckle like two little schoolgirls as they head back downstairs to the basement. You sigh in relief, but leave the party with your friends feeling angry and violated.
The Man Who Followed Me Home:
It’s early in the morning and you desperately need a cup of coffee. There’s a Dunkin Donuts down the street from you. Pulling on a sweatshirt, and shoving your long hair into a wool-knit hat, you sleepily shuffle out the door and down the street to your coffee haven.
The styrofoam cup warms your hands and you savor every blissful sip of the hot liquid as you make your way back home. You notice that there’s an older looking man walking towards you. Instinctively you look at your feet and quickly walk past him, hoping he won’t say anything. You hear him whistle and smack his lips together. Your heart drops. “Hey mami! Com’ here!” You keep walking, but you can feel him following you. “Mami!” he calls again. He smacks his lips together, making kissing noises and whistles loudly. Your heart starts beating faster—it’s broad daylight, but there isn’t anyone else on the street as far as you can see, and that makes you nervous. The man keeps smacking his lips and whistling. As you walk faster his whistles get louder and louder. You reassure yourself that nothing is going to happen, but doubt is starting to form in the back of your mind. After what feels like forever, you finally reach the corner, making a right toward your house. The yelling and whistling stop. You look behind you and let out a long sigh of relief. He’s nowhere to be seen. You take a long gulp of coffee and walk up the steps and into your house. Your hand shakes as you place the key into the lock.
The Man Who Has No Manners:
You’re walking quickly, because you’re running late for class. Past the flower shop, past the convenience store where you buy your eggs, past the shady bar on the corner that you know you’ll never go to; all these things you don’t notice, because you’re in a hurry. You’re frantic, because this will be the third time you’ve shown up late to that class and all you can think of is how you’re going to be late, going to be late, going to be so god damn late—“Hey you!” You look up, startled out of your trance. There’s a tall, thin man working on his car at the side of the street looking in your direction. You realize he’s talking to you. You walk by, not acknowledging his glances. He yells after you, “Heyyo! Com’ here! Hey, hey you know I’ve fucked girls uglier than you, damn I’d totally fuck you right now. Come back here girl! C’mon, come back!” His words are harsh and shocking against the background of the quiet street. Your heart thumps wildly inside your chest, heat rising to your face. You want to yell back, but nothing comes out when you open your mouth. Fuming, you keep walking, forcing your thoughts to fall back onto your upcoming class and inevitable tardiness.
The Men Who Will Never Get Laid:
It’s late and you’re tired. You didn’t want to go out tonight, but you lost the latest battle against peer pressure so here you are. You’re trying not to be cranky as your friend drags you down the street, rambling on about some boy that she has a crush on. It’s just past ten and you sigh, knowing that you have to stay out until at least midnight so as to not receive backlash from any of your girlfriends. You ask your friend where you’re headed. “The frat house on the corner,” she says. You groan and make a fuss, whining about how you are not in the mood to deal with vagina-hungry party boys. She chuckles and rolls her eyes, mistaking your concern for humor. Nearly to the corner, you give yourself a pep-talk: just smile and stop being such a downer, this will be fu…You and some guy bump shoulders, and you’re thrown off track. You turn around to apologize but before you can open your mouth to say anything, he looks you up and down saying, “Damn girl, I’d lease you out for the night.” It takes you a quick second to register what he has just said. Your face flushes with anger, but before you have time to react, your friend yanks you away. You wonder how people can be so disrespectful. Your friends tell you to relax, that it was just some drunk guy being stupid. You tell them that, no, it’s not just some drunk guy—that it happens all the time and that you’re tired of being so passive about it and that nobody should be able to talk to you like you’re some used up sex doll. You realize that you’ve once again become the downer of the group; you decide not to care. Your friends pull you down the rest of the street to the house and as you’re about to walk up the stairs some guys stops you. “Hey I’ve got some condoms in my wallet, let’s go.” In all your sophistication and glory, you smile and politely tell him to go f**k himself.
It was evening, around 10pm, and I had ridden my bike to the shopping center to pick up food. I was wheeling out of the parking lot with a full backpack when some older, intimidating-looking men getting into a truck looked me up and down with a sneer. One said, “I’d like to lick that pussy.” I shouted back, “Excuse me? What did you say? You’re crazy.” The man just sneered again and said, “I’d like to lick that pussy.”
I found this site afterward and wish I could have said/done something else, though at the time I felt scared/like they might steal my bike if I came too close or my phone if I tried to take a picture. The flyers are great. I ended up just coming home angry and flustered and ranting to my male roommate about how often men said these things to me, and all he said was “If a girl did it to a guy, he would like it. The guys are just hoping you’ll have sex with them.” Great!
I was walking to the store last night; no makeup, glasses on, hair in a bun, jeans & a t-shirt. Guy in a car is on Parker street and I can feel him looking at me. Im on the phone with a friend talking into a speaker headset. He says something to me, even though its obvious Im on the phone. I hear it, but not the exact words, and chose to ignore it. He pulls out next to me and says; “Hey (loudly) Do you want a ride?” I turned my head, looked him in the eyes, and said “No.” Turned back and kept walking. He sat there for a second, registering what had just happened, and then drove off.
I was walking south on 7th Ave on my lunch break. As I crossed 27th, a man on a bicycle passed behind me and said “big ass!” I turned around and when I made eye contact with him he winked. I flipped him off. He continued east on 27th (or so I thought) and I continued south on 7th Ave. As I crossed 26th, I saw him pull up next to me, having apparently turned around (going the wrong way back down 27th) in order to follow me, flip me off, and call me a bitch. I screamed something at him – I was so angry and freaked out that I can’t remember what I said – and he sped off south on 7th Ave.
This happened around 3:15 on a Monday with people everywhere. Not one person reacted, came to my defense, or asked me what had happened or if I was okay afterward.
The music block at our school is shared with the neighbouring boys’ school, and the boys’ field is between the girl’s school and the music block.
So I was walking back from the music block at break when a nasty little boy from… well I don’t know what year but can’t have been any older than 13, said ‘Hey good looking’ to me in a gross ‘I’m obviously being a dick’ kind of way.
So I carried on walking like I usually have the few times this has happened.
I was already feeling stressed and annoyed about the exams coming up and how the lesson hadn’t gone so well, so I was very annoyed.
But then two steps away instead of completely just walking off I turned around and screamed ‘F**K OFF!’ at him.
The look on his face annoyed me even more, because it was like ‘I didn’t deserve that shouting’. But he did.
If this ever happens again and I’m not feeling so stressed, I’ll take the time to stop whoever he is, tell him exactly why he’s being and arse and why he should never do it again.
Because a 16 year old girl shouldn’t feel intimidated or worried walking THROUGH HER OWN SCHOOL by a boy YOUNGER THAN HER.
I also think I will make some posters to hand to a teacher at the boys’ school on why being a creep is wrong.
Because they obviously need to learn.
(I’ve written way more that i should but man I’m so angry by this. Even though it wasn’t THAT bad…)
As a young female college student, I had always been told not to walk home alone or take the “short cut” if it was unsafe. But I’d taken the short way home plenty of times in this city to get home from the library, especially in the dark, and have had no problems. On the way home from a friend’s house tonight, I was in a rush to get home. I had a weird gut feeling when I thought about taking the short cut- I have to pass a run-down convenience store, and a section of government housing- but I ignored it. That was a mistake.
I was just about at the end of the short cut, almost home, when a group of 3 or 4 guys came out of nowhere and began to follow me. At first, they were distant. But they shouted “Nice ass!” and “Hey sweetie!” after me, just as I turned the corner to walk down my street. I picked up my pace; they turned onto my street and continued their cat-calling, even more vulgar while they laughed. I turned down into my driveway, and knew I couldn’t go to my house. At first I went around the other side of it, and waited. Then I saw my neighbor’s light on. I rang her doorbell and desperately hoped she would answer and I could then ask to come inside; but she didn’t. The group of guys saw me, and stood at the end of my driveway, continuing their taunting. I had no idea what they wanted, or what I should do. Luckily, they left shortly after. I went to my own house, where my roommate let me in.
Ladies, LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! It can prevent situations like this.
I was 20 years old at the time and had the day off of work and decided to spend a few hours at the public library. I was looking through a book about water color technique when I started hear a strange repetitive sound. I looked around and couldn’t find the source of noise. I then started to get a feeling that I was being stared at. Again, I looked around and there wasn’t anyone noticeably looking at me. The bookshelves at this library are more like shelves and not bookcases, meaning you can look through the shelves and see the next aisle. I did just that I when I did, my eyes where met with a staring, intense gaze. I then looked down and then saw the source of the repetitive sound that I had been hearing… the man was masturbating while looking at me. I was so shocked and disturbed that my first instinct was to immediately look back down at my book and pretend like I hadn’t seen anything to avoid drawing attention to myself. As I stood there, ignoring this man I became increasing scared and I couldn’t take it anymore. I looked him in the eyes through the shelf and yelled “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Just like that, the man zipped up and started running. I dropped my book and followed him quickly but quickly lost sight of this pervert. I ran to the help desk and told the women there what had just happened. They saw how visibly upset I was as I was shaking and finding it difficult to speak. They had me sit down and offered me water to help me calm down while they called the police. When the officer got there I told him what had happened and he said that “he had a feeling of who it might have been.” I filed a report, but I’m not sure if anything ever came of it.
All my life I have been in the public school system in my town. There have been many rewarding aspects, but I have had many instances of harassment as well.
When I was in seventh grade, I wore a tennis skirt to P.E. I was standing in a circle of friends when I felt what felt like a finger push into my upper thigh. At age twelve, I was extremely confused as to what this was. I turned around and a boy behind me said, “That was my dick.” I said nothing.
In ninth grade, I moved to a high school with many staircases. I was fond of wearing skirts. Several girls asked if I wore spandex underneath them. When I replied no, they told me that many guys were in the habit of walking up the stairs behind girls and looking up skirts. Shortly afterward, I experienced it for myself. I do not wear skirts to school anymore. I said nothing.
Today, the weather was warm out. I wore shorts for the first time. A boy in my math class commented on how nice and tan my legs were. I said nothing.
Over the years, I have had boys try to put their hands on my legs. I have had boys try to stroke my shoulders, chest, or stomach. I move away. I say nothing.
Why am brainwashed into silence? These boys have harassed me. Today I say something. Starting today, I holla back.
I am a student in Bristol and In the last year I have been assaulted twice on the same street in the town centre and both assaults were similar. Both assaults happened between midnight and 2.00am but the street is well lit and there are usually lots of people about as there are several venues on the street. Both times I was walking along the road on my own and a group of young men were walking towards me, and I kept walking past them but as they approached me one blocked my path and reach out and grabbed by crotch. I was so shocked and humiliated that I just kept walking and I didn’t look back because I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of my response. I was so ashamed I didn’t even tell the two guys I was out with when I met up with them inside the venue, and when it happened the second time I wanted to stand up for myself and tell them where to go, but instead I found myself instinctively withdrawing into myself. I had not been drinking on either of these occasions because I was cycling home, and neither was I wearing provocative clothing.
I was angry that no-one saw and that I felt powerless, I would like to see more police around in the centre of town at night, then maybe I would feel safer.
I was sitting down for lunch at a small Muslim restaurant (one of my favorites), when a man came to sit at my table. There were other empty tables, so I thought this was a little strange, but didn’t comment on it. Because I am a white woman, Chinese people occasionally approach me to strike up a conversation or practice their English. Most of the time, I don’t mind this much, and often enjoy the opportunity to practice my Chinese and/or help someone practice English, and make new friends (since many of my friends are foreign students like me). But on this particular day, I wanted to eat lunch alone so I could eat quickly and get back to my dorm to do some studying. So I ignored the man sitting next to me. He leaned over and asked (in English) “what country are you from?”. Because my program involved a language pledge where I could not speak any English, I responded in Chinese. He began to ask me more questions and comment on my looks, and I responded (again, in Chinese), “I don’t want to talk to you, I just want to eat my lunch”. This did not deter him. I made my answers shorter and more curt, and asked him why he was still talking to me even though I had told him I did not want to talk to him. I repeated that I wanted to eat my lunch in peace. He then called me a b****, and said that I would “relax” if I spoke to him in English. I reached into my bag for my wallet to pay for my meal and get the hell out, and realized I had left my wallet in my dorm. I cursed in English, and went to find the proprietor to explain the situation. In the time that I was pawing through my bag, the man who had been harassing me paid for my meal. Oh hell no. I explained to the proprietor (who knew me because I was a regular customer) my money situation, and told him that I would pay for my meal myself. I told him to give the man his money back. I then managed to find 5 kuai in my purse (half the cost of the meal), and ran back to my dorm to get my wallet so I could pay him the other 5. I looked over my shoulder the whole way back because I was terrified that that creepy guy was going to follow me. Thank god he didn’t.
Since then, I’ve been immensely distrustful of strange men approaching me or talking to me, and I’ve become much more hostile towards catcalls or men who try to grind with me in nightclubs. I also try to go to restaurants that have at least one other empty table so I’m certain that a stranger won’t sit with me. I still travel around Beijing alone, but I’m always very much “on guard”, and prefer to travel or go out to clubs and bars with male friends, since this does a fairly good job of deterring harassers. I love Beijing and I love studying here, but I hate that I don’t feel safe walking down the street or eating by myself.