Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
BY CATHERINE FAVORITE
Come “Meet Us On the Street”, for International Anti-Street Harassment week, from March 18-24, to take a stand against street harassment! Last year’s first International Anti-Street Harassment Day was so successful, with over thousands of people participating in 13 countries, that this year, the folks of Stop Street Harassment are dedicating an entire week to raising public awareness to end gender-based verbal harassment.
In speaking out against catcalls, sexist comments, public masturbation, groping, stalking, and assault, you will help to create a sustained dialogue surrounding how women, girls and the LGBTQ community must endure a level of verbal and physical street violence that continues to be an inevitable reality for far too many people. The widespread acceptance of gender and sexuality based street harassment has created a silent suffering that wrongfully places the burden of street harassment onto those receiving the harassment, leaving harassers free to continue. In the past, a casual acceptance of street harassment for LGBTQ individuals, women and girls has created a stigma of shame and silence. International Anti-Street Harassment Week is a way of countering this. By making this a part of the public discussion, we can change the culture of acceptance surrounding street harassment. No one should have to change the way they walk to school or work, or worry if their clothing might draw unwanted attention. This week is about calling for the right of everyone to be treated as equals in all shared public spaces. Just as sexual harassment is not tolerated in schools, work or at home, we should not accept it from strangers on the streets, either!
Meet Us On the Street offers many ways for how you can participate, whether by taking to the street on March 24th with your friends and community, bringing up street harassment in conversations, to tweeting about it (#NoSHWeek) and changing your Facebook photo during the third week of March. You can also organize action in your community and submit it to the map so others in your area can find out about it.
In 2003, my childhood best friend and I took a trip to NYC to celebrate her birthday. We got second row tickets to an amazing play, staring her favorite actor. It was supposed to be an amazing trip for us, something to remember for a lifetime. Sadly, I will remember it for all the wrong reasons.
We took the subway during rush hour to get to Times Square in time for what I think was a 7:00 performance. We were all dressed up, each wearing cocktail dresses among a sea of bland commuters. The train was utterly packed to the gills. We stood, sharing a pole, facing each other on the train. When there are that many people cramped in a tight space, you are bound to get bumped and jostled by backpacks and suitcases. I found my rear being repeatedly “bumped” by what I initially thought was a suitcase. I began to get suspicious and used a technique that my friend and I had employed many times in the past. I made it clear to her I was a little suspicious about what was going on behind me without saying a word. I quickly stepped to the side, so as to leave whatever was going on behind me immediately exposed to her line of vision. The look on her face was not at all what I expected to see, as it reflected what she had not expected to see—a short man with his pants unzipped, and his erect penis hanging out.
That “bump” was him continually rubbing his penis up against my rear end. Thankfully, we were coming to our station. I was completely shocked and had no idea how to react. I will be forever grateful to my friend for grabbing my hand and running up the steps. We started screaming “Rape” on the top of our lungs. Disturbingly enough, the man began to follow us. Somehow we lost him in the crush of people.
Disoriented and upset, we made it to our performance. I was too disturbed to leave my seat during intermission. I couldn’t bear the thought of someone getting close to me in the lobby. After the show, we had a wonderful experience meeting the actors. I was so bothered by the thought of getting back on the subway, I called a male friend of mine from nearby and he escorted us on the train back to our hotel. While waiting for him, a mounted police officer happened to come by. I stopped him and asked if I could tell him something, even though I knew he couldn’t do anything about it. He was so kind and understanding and his attention to me in that moment actually helped.
I am not the kind of woman to not react–especially to this kind of abuse. This is just evidence that any one of us can be so taken aback that we don’t know how to react. To this day, I am totally paranoid about using public transportation of any kind. This is in part due to a bus driver that harassed me in my home town shortly before the subway incident.
All told, that (literal) jerk-off took a great red cocktail dress from me, a feeling of safety on public transportation, and what should have been an unmarred vacation with my best friend.
I work at a restaurant. At work last weekend, a male patron called me “darling”. I find this very offensive, objectifying, disrespectful to my intelligence, and dehumanizing – I am not his significant other and he is a total stranger.
I told him: “Don’t call me darling.” He responded, shocked: “What?!” I said, “Don’t call me darling. I’m not your girlfriend.” He said, “I didn’t know!” I said, “Now you know.” He began arguing: “I call everyone that!” I said, “Well, now you know not to call me that. We’re done.”
When he left, he shouted at me, “Thanks a lot, Toots!” I replied, “Don’t call me Toots either!” as he walked away.
I told my manager about it and asked if we could ban him from the restaurant. She said no, because this wasn’t “sexual harassment” as defined in a course on workplace harassment she recently completed. She told me to just suck it up as there was nothing that could be done.
In her response, I heard several undertones: that either she really did believe she had limited options in responding to such incidences, and/or that she thought I should just sit down and shut up – relax and “learn to live with” offensive, derogatory, gender-based remarks, simply because I work in a customer service-oriented industry.
I don’t know what to say to my boss, aside from the fact that I feel (am?) entitled to stand up for myself against unwanted gender-based verbage from patrons, and disappointed that she didn’t have my back in this particular exchange.
I was walking down the street at about 1am on Saturday after having a celebration with a group of friends. I was with one friend who is male and slightly shorter than me (I am 5’6″). Approaching us was a group of four larger men. I didn’t think anything of it as we walked past them, and then one of them smacked me on the butt as we walked past. I did not even look at their faces because my friend and I were having a conversation — and it took me a few seconds to even comprehend what had happened. I told my friend that it had happened, but I am very angry at myself for not advocating for myself in some way. I didn’t yell. I didn’t explain how unacceptable his behavior was. I just kept walking. And that makes me feel very victimized and subservient. Yuck.
I’ve been living in Sri Lanka for several months now, working as an English teacher. The verbal harassment that foreign women (and I suspect Sri Lankan women as well) endure on a daily basis is disgusting. I can’t walk ten feet out my door before comments like “hey sexy,” “I want to f**k you!” and other extremely forward comments are made. It has made me feel bad about even walking out of my door, and I sometimes don’t even go out because I don’t feel like dealing with the harassment. The worst part is that public shaming does not work here. If I call someone out on their harassment, they behave as if they’ve done something to be proud of, or, as I walk past, they laugh at me.
I’ve never experienced such horrible harassment before coming here, and I would love to find some way of stopping it.
I live in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a city I love. The people here are incredibly helpful, hospitable and kind, especially to foreigners like me. I’m very independent, and have always felt safe here.
But earlier this week I saw a woman nearly have her purse stolen. The would-be mugger jumped into a taxi before I, or anyone else, could take action.
So I was a little on edge when, entering a covered pedestrian overpass, I noticed a young man walking a little too closely, and too directly, behind me.
I slid my arms through both my backpack straps, thinking he might try to grab it off my shoulder. But that’s not what he had in mind.
I was wearing a skirt and tights, and before I knew it he had his fingers between my legs.
I spun around to face a surprisingly clean-cut, well-dressed young man. He was turning away from me, but I grabbed him, furious.
I started shouting horrible things at him in English, having forgotten all my Georgian curses in the heat of the moment. “You f**king piece of shit!” I screamed as I started beating his head and chest. “What the f**k do you think you’re doing, you waste of f**king space!” I punched his ear, slapped his face, pounded on his arms and shoulders.
He started to walk away, in the direction I needed to go. This only made me angrier. I grabbed him again, inflicting more verbal and physical abuse.
What struck me now, in hindsight, is how shocked and confused he looked. He didn’t fight back, didn’t say anything – he was frozen. What did he expect to happen? What would a Georgian woman have done?
When he finally started moving in the opposite direction, I screamed, “Get the f**k out! Get the f**k away from here!” and finished crossing the underpass.
That’s when I started crying.
As I walked home from school 2 years ago when I was in the 9th-10th grade, I would be harassed by men who were old enough to be my grandfather and some of them were in their 20s passing by in cars saying things to me and even slowing down and screaming things to me from their cars and followed me as I walked along the side walk; I turned to say nothing to these men I ignored them yet they kept on.
My experiences were so horrific and disturbing that when I told my parents,they stopped me from walking home and made it a point to pick me up from school and drop me off to make sure nothing like it ever happened again.We also found out that there are a number of registered sex offenders in the area in which I had to walk to and from school;a lot were for rape…
At first, I was too scared and shaken up to even tell them about it. It felt like a part of me was being taken every time these old men would say such disgusting things to me even though they clearly knew I was a minor and not interested because I had on my school uniform and I looked my age.
No one should ever have to go through this sort of thing..
I was waiting at a local bus stop close to my apartment building, around 9pm, when this guy who was up the block a bit saw me and followed me to the bus stop. He asked for the time, and I thought he would be on his way, but then he stood very close to me, facing me, and would not move. I didn’t want to run or make a sudden move, so I just stood , my phone in my hand, ready to turn and walk when I looked down and he had taken his pants off and was completely exposing himself. It was horrific and disgusting, and I just turned and calmly walked away. I looked over my shoulder, and the creep had already run off somewhere and was out of sight. I’m not sure why anyone would think it’s ok to do something like that in public, but if I ever see this individual again, I will call the police and use my pepper spray.
I was on my way home at 9AM in the morning. I was at the Roosevelt Ave stop. I went inside the R train and sat at the far end of the car. A few seconds later this 50something guy sat across from me. The train car was moderately filled so I didn’t think anything of it. Before the train started moving again this guy was rubbing something down there. I saw him staring at me. I tried playing with my phone. I should have taken a picture or a video to catch the guy but I didn’t think he was really doing anything. But when I looked up his penis was out. I should have yelled and screamed but I don’t know. I was just speechless. I stood up an change my seat. My mistake was sitting where I could see his reflection because obviously he was also using that to his advantage. I wanted to cry at this point but he left at the next stop. I just wanted to go home do I did not report it. And he would have probably gotten away with it. This is so ridiculous. This is the second time that has happened to me on the subway. I just wanted to vent because I have been traumatized by this occurrence. I also feel terrible and guilty for not reporting this to anyone. I am worried he is going to do this again to another woman.
My parents have a house in Spain where we go almost every vacation on holiday. So 2 or 3 years ago, we were in Spain in the summer. Our house is in a little village, but you can cycle very easily to the nearby city Cambrils. We never go alone (my sister and I), because we were too young according to my parents, but that vacation, my parents allowed us to go alone. My sister is 2 years younger than I am, so I had to take care about her. The first part of the road is a dirt road with no houses, maybe 2 or 3. The second part of the road is a bicycle path along the coastline. There is always a lot of people.
So we started very happy and exciting on our trip to the city. When we were driving on the dirt road, a white van stopped and asked us something in English. I didn’t understand him so I stopped to and he repeated his question. I was standing right next to the van, so I had to look up to him. My sister had already cycled farther so when she saw I stopped, she also stopped and waited for me. The man asked me where the ‘Camping Sol’ was. I said him that I didn’t know, I only knew that, in our little village, there was a camping named ‘Oasis’. Suddenly there came another car from the other direction and the road was very small, so the van had to move a little and the other car passed by. Now the van stood 2 or 3 meters from me and I could look into his window. Before, I only saw his face, because he was so close, but know I also saw the rest and I wish I hadn’t seen it. My sister was again next to me, and she saw it too. The man was masturbating. We were totally in shock and very scared because we were all alone. The nose of the car was pointed in the way of our village, so we couldn’t go back because he would catch up very easily, and that was very stupid, because we were at 2 minutes from our home, but at 30 minutes from Cambrils. But I started biking again, because just staying there wouldn’t help. My sister didn’t start, she was very scared so I said ‘Murielle, let’s go, just bike!’. Then she started biking and we kicked like fools on our pedals. From the other direction there came another white van and we were so scared that we drove into a random side street. Then we came back to the main road. We wanted to call our mother or father, but there was no service. Finally we reached the coastline. There we stopped. My sister had cried the whole time, and while I was calling my mother, I realized what happened and I also started crying. My mother came with the car to calm us down. My other sister, who is 8 years younger than I am, also sat in the car, her hair was still wet. She was taking a bath when we called and my mother just took her out of the bath and put her in the car.
She said we had to go back, but that she couldn’t join us with the car. We were so scared and really didn’t want to drive the whole way back, so my mother putted our bikes in the trunk of the car.
When we were back home, my father asked us if we had memorized the plate, but we didn’t. because we were in panic, we just forgot.