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On September 6, 2011, I was driving to Lexington for groceries and, at the Fayette County line, noticed that a small blue Dodge with four young men (probably early-mid 20s) were yelling something about fucking me, laughing, and making gestures. I am a middle aged woman. Each time I sped up or slowed down, the Dodge car full of men shouting things that sounded like threats of sexual assault did the same until finally I slowed nearly to a stop shortly before Man O’ War Blvd. The blue car pulled in front of me and then turned right onto Man O’ War.
A male neighbor who moved here from a different state recently complained to me about the way men look at and speak to his wife. Since I’ve always lived here and pay little attention to other people unless I feel threatened, I was confused, but after he talked about some things that had happened I started paying attention. Then this happened: a perfect example of what he was talking about. I was confused, angry, and frightened by the young men following me in traffic and shouting about fucking me. I know that they may not have actually intended to assault me, and that if they did they probably didn’t care that I am probably older than some of their mothers.
As a survivor of sexual assault, I moved away from Lexington, a small city, to feel safer. While I’m not still afraid, I’m infuriated. I didn’t get the number of the license plate on the car or what sort of Dodge it was, but I hope that when those men do this again – and I think they will – the next woman gets the information and calls the police. I hope they’re arrested before their threats escalate into rape.
I was finishing up a walk with my dog at about 7pm Friday evening. We were coming down Friendship Ave in the Friendship/East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh, heading toward S. Negley Ave. As we approached this intersection, two mean in their 30s crossed from the other side of Friendship Ave. One appeared to ignore me as they passed. The other licked his lips at me, then made kissing noises, leering at me. “Hey sexy mama” he said as he passed. When I reached the corner, I turned my dog down Stratford, away the home stretch to my building. The guy yelled at me “You got a pitt bull” as we continued on. I took my dog an extra two blocks out of the way, and then back, because I was afraid this guy would see where I live, and I live alone. This is far from the first time I’ve been openly harassed on the street since moving to the city a few months ago. I wanted to vomit right there. I’ve worked so hard to lose over 20 lbs this year, and being treated like this makes me feel disgusting. I wish I could yell back at them, think of something to say, that there was someone else around to hear it and encourage me. But I’m always too afraid of what they might do to me then, if they’re brazen enough to harass me in the first place.
I was walking home from work on a friday night from Broadbeach to Pacific Fair, and on my way is Jupiters Casino. I manage a resturant so it would have been around 11:30pm and the casino was teeming with people. Anyway these 3 guys as I was walking past whistled at me, which I ignored and then screamed out “Show me your tits baby you’re looking hot tonight” to which i replied “F*&k off”, the two other men laughed but the other guy said “Whatever you frigid c*$t”
I have been a member of the CouchSurfing community for more than five years. In that time I’ve gotten a few messages that could be considered slightly suggestive. Yesterday I received a completely revolting message from a might-as-well-be anonymous CSer who is clearly there to abuse the system as he has no friends, no recommendations and no photos and yet has “been a member” for almost a year. I reported his profile and both messages he sent me. Below are his messages and my responses.
Frank: “After looking at your pictures I have resolved to buy you a an extra large heavy duty bag and throw it over your entire body because you are the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen in my life. Any man who would look at you would want you for a wife! You can only marry one man at a time or even bed one man at a time! If you reject any of then they must accept No! Come on girl be reasonable! I am not saying that any man should take advantage of you by getting you drunk or hitting you over the head; however it is going to happen time and again unless you wear a large bag over your entire body! You are the most desired commodity in the world ever. You are finer than Gold! You are also worth way more. If you would be mine I’d give all my Gold away! That’s it become a gold digger and get you a huge bag made out of gold to hide under! God bless you and please be mine!”
Me: “You’re a fucking skeezer man. Trolling a feminist with threats of “bride kidnapping” because “you’re so hot I can’t control myself” is fucking pathetic. This website and this project were designed to bring travelers from all over the world together when hotels get too expensive, not to give you an easy way to harass strange women. Obviously you didn’t care enough to read anything on my profile before you sent me this disgusting, misogynistic message or you’d know I already have a partner. Not that I would ever consider “being” anyone’s who felt it’s ok to see women merely as objects to possess. Fuck off sleezebag.”
Frank: “All I am saying is that you can not avoid abuse because all that scum where you live will make a rodeo out of you if you don’t wear a large trash bag to shield your body or if you give into their demands. I am not saying it’s right and if I was there I would kick their ass and protect you like a brother. All I am saying is that you have to wear a bag over your head to keep men from wanting you or even molesting you other wise those Texans will get while the getting’s good. Damn those Yankee Masonic fuck boys to hell! I mean come on you are the most beautiful woman who ever lived! What are the chances that you will be raped over and over again! Its not like your a dog! You have been raped before because you are so fine thus the anger! And thus this has caused you to create this site. I am sorry that it has happened to you. I love you and I respect you and I am 100% pro women’s rights. Darling I love you more than anything in the world! Your wish is my command! Look the price of Gold is sky high and you could make a lot of cash manipulating someone like me!
In the the entire world. Men who drink may rape you in fits of insanity and what else can you do other than hide your perfectness under a bag! I would never take whats not afforded me!”
Me: “Telling someone who has been raped that it’s her fault is the lowest thing you can do. You obviously have no human decency if you’re throwing around the word rape trying to compliment someone. Do everyone a favor and only speak when spoken to. And do not contact me again.”
My self being a New York native was walking through times square on my way to do some volunteer work. It was an extremely hot summer day so I dressed accordingly to the climate. When I was walking through Times Square this man came up to me and said “Hello I am visiting New York and I love the women here do you mind if I take a photo of you” Me being the non confrontational person that I am said no thank you but before I knew it he grabbed me and held me up against him while his friend took a photo. I may have been lightly dressed due to the weather but that is no invitation for men to treat women less then human.
A stranger grabbed my crotch on the metro today. and then tried to deny it and get away from me when I started screaming at him. eventually he mumbled ‘sorry’ and walked away and i didn’t have the energy to keep following him. but i’m proud of myself for yelling: you can’t treat women like that! you are disgusting! you should be ashamed of yourself! that is unacceptable! next time i’ll be mentally prepared to take the next step and report it.
Unfortunately I’m no stranger with harassment on the streets, having lived in Sydney and small country towns before Newcastle, I mean as appearances go I don’t consider myself unattractive, I’m not by any means thin, or conventional, but I take pride in myself and am careful to dress appropriately.
However the intensity and consistency of verbal and physical attacks since living here have been unprecedented, from having drinks thrown at me in bars, creeps asking incredibly personal things, even having my hair sniffed while walking the streets.
Mostly I try not to take too much notice, my long term boyfriend having even bought me a tazer to make me feel safer when I am out, and though it does its incredibly heartbreaking that it should come to that.
But rather to the point, I only just discovered this website and felt that I should share my most recent, and probably the most hurtful of experiences, being a late Sunday night, my boyfriend and I went for a walk to the 24hr grocery store to pick up some things so I could bake him some treats before he had to head home for work (he works rather odd houred shifts)
In my year of living here I was somewhat surprised to see the local club was going and quite lively, being familiar with the rather unkind crowd we opted to keep our distance and went on to do our shopping, however on our return as we took the same back streets avoiding the drunken crowds a car drove by slowly, a man leaning out the window screaming “fat slut!” at me as I stood there right next to my boyfriend, I felt completely humiliated, and angry for being judged at such a stupid hour on a Sunday night, I felt I had a right to be a little haggard, but I couldn’t dare even express the pain to my boyfriend as he silently ignored it, walking back home all I could do was try not to cry.
All I could ask myself was, “What kind of man would insult a woman, a complete stranger, in such a way? Why should anyone ever have to put up with such a public humiliation?”
I yet to understand, but I certainly found some solace in this site, I’m glad to not feel completely alone.
Walking toward my house, I made eye contact with a guy walking the opposite way on the other side of the street. I looked away. He did not. He kept staring at me, slowly turning his head a full 180 to keep staring at me as I walked up my driveway. It was completely silent, less than 30 seconds, and he was pretty far away from me, but I still felt shaken and threatened, and at the same time silly for feeling so threatened when nothing “really” happened, and angry that something so small means so much.
I had never lived in a city before this summer, and it took a while for me to get used to the unending comments I heard on the street. They always made me feel uncomfortable, and I found listening to music protected me the most on my walk to work.
My last week of summer work, I had run out of power to listen to my music so I was walking around without my usual guard up. I started to notice someone yelling, “Bitch!” at me as I was walking. At first I ignored it, but the yelling got worse when I turned around.
When I got to the cross walk and it looked like me and the man who was yelling at me would be standing together, I decided to walk off to the side and stand by a populated bus stop until he passed. As he walked across the street, he hatefully spewed, “bitch,” and “white cunt” with “privileged pussy” my way.
I didn’t know what to do; I just wanted to go home. After I crossed the street, he turned around to see me again. He stopped dead in his tracks and threatened me until I crossed the street again to walk on the other side.
I was wearing sunglasses, so no one could see me cry on my way home. I don’t let anyone talk to me like that, but he was so much bigger and filled with so much anger. I felt so powerless and so small.
Saturday night at about 8pm I parked on Little Raven street, at the far end of the mall from the Denver Library, where I was heading to drop off some books in the drop box. I made it to the library and successfully dropped off my books in about fifteen minutes. Walking back from the library to the mall (which involves walking down the street between a city park and the Denver capital lawn), a man started following me. I sped up, he did too. First, he just tried talking to me, to get me to stop. I responded, but kept walking. Then he asked me if I could sell him a bowl. I said no and kept walking. After crossing Colfax, I was passing the bus station when he angled his walking and tried to cut me off against the wall.
I ran into the bus station and went straight to the security guard. He followed me into the bus station, and the security guard made him go away for me. After I watched him go out of view, I walked out of the bus station to catch the Free Mall Ride down 16th street mall. A stop later, he got on the mall ride and started staring at me. I work on the mall at a place in which my coworkers are predominantly males, so I got off the ride and went to my work with the hope of losing him based on the intimidation factor of other males.
I waited 15 minutes, then tried to leave. I was partway down the block when he walked up next to me and said “hi”. I turned around and went back to work and waited for them to finish closing so I wouldn’t be walking alone. I didn’t get to my car till past 11pm.