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I am studying in Florence, Italy, for my final semester of college, and I was thrilled at the prospect of getting out of my boring North Carolina town and into a place renowned for culture and fashion. Florence is amazing, but the men feel that they can stop and gape at you, or say all kinds of offensive things, and it’s part of their “culture.” A simple “ciao bella” as I pass by does not offend me–that is the kind of culture that is allowed, that is an appreciation of beauty; unfortunately it is used as a shield to justify more lewd statements.
I was walking home last week, and at an intersection waited for the light to change. A guy next to me eyed me, and then starting talking to me; I ignored him, which was easier since I was listening to my ipod, but he would not give up. From that intersection he followed me over four blocks to my apartment, trying to speak to me the whole time. He was so thick-headed that I thought it better not to turn and say anything, but to get away as quickly as possible; the language barrier also would have made it difficult. I made it home and took great pleasure in slamming the door in his face. What shocks me, though, is that all of the streets I walked were full of people, and it was 1 o clock in the afternoon, and no one did or said anything.
I frequently wear heels and dresses, but that DOES NOT mean that I am asking for it, and I dress solely for myself, not for men. This site has inspired me and I hope to admonish my next harasser, who I am sure I will encounter at some point tomorrow.
I go to a very small school of only 100 kids, so I feel very awkward and nervous submitting this. But then I remember what a parent said to me 3 nights ago and I reconfirm the inappropriateness of the comment and feel the need to share.
My school puts on a production called, “scene night” in which the advanced theater class does individual scenes rather than a whole play. So each student gets their own scene. I chose a scene that was beautifully written and funny, hoping to explore comedic theater a little more and show my acting dexterity. I memorized for days, and determined the perfect blocking and finally got to preform my scene. It went smashingly. I was a playing the part of a reference librarian that was defending her career choice. She was trying to explain that reference librarians were not bland people as the status quo might say, and were instead romantic intellectuals. There was one part where I climbed on top of my reference desk, explaining my ‘fantasy’ while talking to an imaginary patron. It was somewhat about seduction but not about sex. After the performance, which I was immensely proud of (it was my final performance at the school before I graduated) while we were all schmoozing about with the audience, one of the other kid’s parents came up to me very close and introduced himself as, “Mr. X’s Dad” and then said, “You looked so sexy up there..I mean really sexy.” Put on the spot I said something like “Thank you, I had a good time.” And turned away looking for someone to talk to. But I really wanted to tell him not to stand so close to me, and that his comment was really inappropriate. He was just nearly pressed against me, and I could smell his breath! And it wasn’t like he was complimenting my performance..he was telling me I looked appealing to him. Why do I care what you think of me, Mr. X? I’m not trying to turn you on! I know he didn’t mean to be offensive and probably thought I’d be flattered by the comment but I was creeped out and told my mom as soon as I was far enough away. My mom responded with, “You know I’ve always gotten a creepy vibe from him…I think he just doesn’t know how to be social though.” She moved on from it an encouraged me to do the same but all I’ve felt since the comment is I must not have portrayed my character well. I must have made it too sexual. But my mom is also consequently my director and had seen me rehearse it nearly 20 times. She wouldn’t have let me continue with the monologue if it was too sex-riddled. She would definitely have said something. I just wish my experience wasn’t tainted by this man’s comment and that it didn’t make me feel like the one time I really extended my comfort zone, I was mis-percieved by people.
On Thursday, I had planned to go to a cheap taco place, go meet up with friends for dessert at Junior’s, and have an enjoyable day.
This group of teens has said things to me on and off in my area for a year and a half. I’ve tried everything – calling 311, calling the local precinct, attempting to reason with the ringleader after separating him from his friend, calling the local precinct, videotaping an incident, and calling the precinct a third time.
When I saw a group of young men out, I put my point and shoot in video mode and turned it on in my bag. When one of them yelled to me, I pulled the camera out and got a shot at their faces. They taunted me more, and I was set to walk away and bring my videos to the precinct the next day, though lord knows bringing anything sexual to the police is a gamble. One of them pulled down his pants and showed me his (surprisingly hairless) ass, to which I yelled without thinking “OH HELL NO, I’M FROM BROOKLYN, YOU BETTER KILL ME OR LEAVE ME ALONE.” One of them threw his cigarette at me, and said, “You better leave before we decide to kill you.”
I called 911 this time, and the officers tried to be nice, but they were too slow to respond, and the butt-flasher and cigarette-thrower had gone. Their friend got a summons for being aggressive and spitting, but that doesn’t exactly help.
Jesus fucking Christ, I just wanted a taco. Whenever a man on the street says something too vile or personal to ignore, I get this intense adrenaline rush that would probably enable me to pick a car up off my foot. It’s really uncomfortable – my heart starts beating so fast, I shake slightly, and I’m just so angry I can’t think straight. How dare someone say that to me, treat me like I’m public property because I’m a woman, and truly believe they are entitled to my time, my response, their satisfaction. I shouldn’t need to feel prepared to die to run errands in my neighborhood in broad daylight. I’d rather die than live in fear, but I wish I didn’t even have to think that way.
I know I didn’t handle this in the best way possible, but it isn’t my job to respond well to groups of men who intimidate me – I didn’t choose to be their target. They were wrong to target me.
Everyone I told this story to has said I’m so brave, but I couldn’t leave the house on Friday because I felt so fatigued after all of that adrenaline the day before. I went out with my boyfriend on Saturday, but I’m having a panic attack over the thought of going outside alone today, even if I avoid the area. If it’s not these guys, it will be others, and if it’s not today, it will be this week. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to do next time, especially if the police respond so slowly. I’m afraid of dealing with being treated like public property for the rest of my life, no matter how I carry myself or respond. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to do next time to survive, and what that’s going to do to me.
A friend of mine and I decided to grab some McDonalds after a part at approximately 3am in the morning. It was a place that was nearby and was convenient for both of us to get home.
We cruised on in and ordered our meals. We were soon approached by a man who said that we had to meet his friends. We obliged because he asked nicely and we’re the adventurous, outgoing sort. We met his friends/family, and chatted while we waited for our meal.
Once we had our food we sat down kind of near them because of the size of the restaurant, but indicated no interest. For a majority of our meal we enjoyed solitude recanting our individual evenings.
About 3/4 of the way through my big mac one of the guys walks over and starts talking us up, soon after his cousin comes up afterwards and joins in. Both of them are nice enough, so we don’t mind chatting a bit as we end our post festivity meal. But as we near the end they ask us out, ask us what we’re up to, and for our numbers.
We tell them we are done for the evening, have to be up early, and don’t wish to give our number out.
The first guy that approached us walked away and said, “Fuck those fat bitches.”
And I was not having it.
I followed him to his table and confronted him, asking what he’d said. His friend tried to ‘calm me down’ but I told them that I was well within my rights to cause a scene. Quickly the whole McDonalds was cheering me on as I told him that I had no responsibility or obligation to give him my number. That I had been nothing but a lady, and had acted with only respect until he decided that he was too good for basic respect.
All the while he was giving me the finger.
I kept going, and I asked the crowd that was watching. ‘Am I a fat bitch?’ and they said, ‘HELL NO!’ I told him that I was a woman, and a lady. That I had acted with respect, and it would have been my preference to walk out that door without this nonsense. But I was not the kind of person to take that kind of disrespect, and that he had a thing or two to learn about women of substance.
Last year I moved to Granville Island in Vancouver to go to school at the nearby art university. Close to my house there’s a convenience store and a Starbucks, near the intersection where the big neon “Granville Island” sign is.
On nights when I had a lot of studying to do I would go to the convenience store and pick up snacks, but the male clerk always seemed overly friendly and creeped me out a little. He would often probe too much into my life, asking me where I lived, how I was, what I was doing later… sounds friendly, but it wasn’t. Also, every time I came in he would ask me if I was old enough to drink, if I liked drinking, and if I had girlfriends that I drank with.
Finally after enough times going there, he worked up enough nerve to “ask me out”, if you can call it that. In the span of about 45 seconds he shot a bunch of questions at me rapid-fire; he asked me if he could take me shopping, buy me clothes, take me to the beach, take me to a movie, take me back to his house or buy me liquor. It was clear that he thought I was underage and that getting a boot for alcohol would not only pique my interest, but would make it easier for him to potentially date rape me. This man was probably around 30 – I’m 19 but look about 15. I’d also like to note that I never bothered to wear makeup when I went to that convenience store, and I usually wore my boyfriend’s baggy hoodies since it was cold and I didn’t plan on being out long – I mention this because some people seem to believe that harassment is based on looks. It’s not.
Anyway, I never went back there again. Luckily there’s another convenience store close by that’s run by a very sweet middle-aged man, but his store doesn’t stock toiletries like shampoo and deodorant, so when I need those things I now need to make a half hour walk to the drug store (instead of the five minute walk I used to make to the Island Market convenience store).
I don’t have a picture or the name of this man, but he was in his thirties, somewhat short, and had a pock-marked face. He works at the market all week round. I’m including a picture of the place I grabbed off Google street viewer – none of the people visible in the photo are the harasser. NOTE: This is not in the Granville Island Farmer’s Market. It is a separate convenience store simply named “Island Market”.
In the summer before my senior year of High School, my mother decided to host a party for her coworkers. Myself and my brothers were there to help watch the younger children, grill the hamburgers and hotdogs and my mother enlisted me to be the official ‘bartender’. The party was in full swing and going well when one of the night-shift nurses showed up with her two daughters and her husband. She pulled me off to the side and asked me to make her husband something very strong as he didn’t want to be at the party. So I made him a drink and took it over to where he was sulking by the pool and told him to drink it, “orders from your wife”. He laughed a bit and every once and a while would come up and ask for a refill before going back to where he was sitting.
A little while later, one of my brothers and I were watching the kids while they swam and I was teaching his daughters how use pool noodles as squirt guns, etc. I noticed him staring, but I didn’t think much of it. After we tired the kids out, my brother made them popcorn and put on a movie for them. While I was in the kitchen getting a soda he came up behind me, brushed my hair over my shoulder and creepily whispered to me that I was “really good with his girls”. This made me extremely uncomfortable, and I just made some weird noises and muttered “thanks”. His family and him all left not long after that, but that was not the end of it.
Around midnight, when the only people left at the party were some of the younger hospital workers without kids, he turned up again. My oldest brother came to the backyard and told me that there was some guy outside asking for me. I was very confused and thought it might’ve been one of my friends, so I walked out to the front of the house. When I saw who it was, I immediately felt scared and uncomfortable, so I called to my brother and asked him to stay close before going outside. He had driven to our house and was very obviously drunk and reeked of weed. He came up to me, well within my personal bubble and seemed very happy to see me. I didn’t understand most of what he said because it was all drunken slurs, but I do know that at one point he pulled a pipe out of his pocket and asked me if I wanted to go toke up with him in his truck. At this point I was rather fed up and I could see my brother looking very angry in the doorway, so I very pointedly told him that he had a wife and two children waiting for him at home, and even if he didn’t I wouldn’t touch him with a 10 foot pole, and that he was far to drunk to drive and if he wanted me to call him a cab (all in a very sickly sweet voice). He got rather ticked off at my comment so he grabbed my arm and started to say something but my brother twisted his arm and threw him to the ground before he got anything out (my brother studies martial arts) and told the man to get “the fuck off our property before I blow a hole through you, and don’t touch my sister again”.
I later found out from my mother that he crashed on his way home and received a DUI, and he wife filed for a divorce not to long after (which I was very happy to hear, I didn’t think he belonged around children).
During that same summer I was driving one of my friends home late at night when some guys pulled up next to us. It was a hot night, so I had the windows rolled down, and they started to make rather lewd comments and gestures at us. The light turned green so I sped off and turned into a random neighborhood, but they followed us and honked their horn and flashed their lights at us constantly. I pulled back on to a main road and got stuck at another stop light when they pulled up next to us again and resumed yelling. So I switched the song and turned up my car speakers all the way and turned to them and began serenading them with this song (Another F.U. Song):
My friend burst out laughing and they tried to yell over the music, but I just turned it up more. They eventually gave up and sped off.
Every morning, I take the city bus to school. The bus terminal near my apartment is pretty busy and it’s not uncommon for me to get verbally harassed by men while I’m there waiting for my bus. Because of this, I was trying to mind my own business the other morning when a man approached me. I had my ipod in when I noticed him coming directly towards me. I avoided looking at him, hoping he would leave me alone, but no such luck. The next thing I knew, he was standing way too close to me and was talking to me. I turned my ipod off and asked him what he had said. He started asking me questions about my ipod and then asked me how old I was. I told him I was 20 and he looked me up and down and said “Some pretty for only 20…” I started to text my friend hoping that if I ignored him he’d move away, but he didn’t. Each time I stepped away from him, he’d step closer again.I was starting to feel threatened so I walked away to the other side of the terminal, pretending to look at the bus schedule. The man followed behind me without hesitation. As I was looking at the schedule he started asking me what bus I was taking, I ignored him and walked away again, back where I had come from. He continued following me. I walked into an area with a larger group of people and he still followed me. He was still standing too close, and was looking me up and down my body. I was so creeped out and my heart was beating so fast. He had this look in his eye that told me there was something not right with him. I wanted to tell him to get away from me, but at the time I was so scared. I was worried that if I told him to leave he may react badly, I didn’t want to escalate the situation.
After what felt like a lifetime, but was really a few minutes, his bus came and he left. Shortly after, a friend of mine arrived and we got on the bus to go to school. On the bus, I told her what had happened and we got to comparing stories about the various times that men have harassed us and about how generally messed up our society is. During this conversation, the man sitting in front of us kept peeking around and looking at us. It was clear that he was eavesdropping. When he got off the bus, he walked by our window and stared at us, then licked his lips and winked as we drove away. We were completely taken aback. After everything he had probably just heard us say, he had the nerve to do that!
I thought about that morning for the rest of the day. I was angry at myself for giving someone else the power to make me feel scared. I was angry at myself for not standing up when I should have. I am constantly being harassed by men, and ignoring it obviously is not working for me. I’m done with keeping my head down and my mouth shut. From now on I WILL hollaback!
This isn’t about one particular incident, this is about the overall attitude of men. Today it was sunny so I walked from work to the bus stop without my coat on and I felt vulnerable. Vulnerable! How ridiculous is that.
2 men who I walked past made some sort of sexual animalesque grunt at me just as I passed them and another guy in a group said something offensive. There was the usual classic of a group of builders making comments. I was wearing black tights and a dress with a baggy jumper over the top and I actually caught myself thinking ‘i’ll never wear this dress again without a long coat’. I think it was mainly because I was on my own, as these incidents seem to be about power.
It is intimidating and undermining for this to happen so much that it is normal. The sad fact is that I thought that somehow I had to adapt. I have to have an armour to walk to and from work!!!!!!!!!!
In the workplace it is illegal to make sexual comments like this, why is it ok in the street? Like many of you, I wish I knew what to say. ‘F off’ makes you look angry and mental. A disapproving stare seems to have no affect and the act makes me feel so pathetic that I don’t feel capable of making a witty banterous put down. What shall I do tomorrow?
This was fourteen years ago, the fall of 1997. I was nineteen. I was on a date with a girl, walking along the boardwalk – it’s one of the more romantic places in our small city. We found a nice spot to look out over the lake, and sat there talking quietly. We leaned in and began kissing, just an innocent kiss. Not a minute later, some slimebag scared the living hell out of us – he had to sneak up behind us of course – by saying stuff to the effect of, “Wow, do you two want some company? Y’all look good, a couple hot little white girls, you want some big dick to keep you company?” And just on and on.
What pisses me off the most, even after all these years, is that it was our first kiss – my first real kiss with a girl, even – and it was completely ruined. Luckily, my date took me by the hand and we walked to the car, even though I wanted to run. She kept telling me it was okay, that he was just some asshole, that we were okay. But I will hate that crusty old creep for the rest of my life. At the time, it felt like he took maybe the one good thing going in my life and cheapened it, made it a bad memory instead.
Wow, I thought I was over this. Just goes to show you how long those old wounds stay with you. I suppose I’m lucky that he didn’t pursue us or attack us, but I felt, still feel, violated all the same.
I live in a town that’s filled, primarily, with bars, places I usually enjoy and have never had a problem (possibly because I usually go out with a group that is primarily male). However, on this particular night it was a friend’s birthday and we decided that getting plastered was a good idea. To avoid spending too much money we went to the local dive bar, somewhere I previously had never set foot in. It’s a strangely dark place (even for a bar) and VERY crowded on weekends.
At one point I, along with three of my friends (all girls) went out onto the dance floor, we were having fun jumping around and dancing with each other for partners when I feel something brush past my ass, initially I dismissed it, it’s a crowded dance floor and you do have to work your way through it to get to the bar, a little awkward jostling is too be expected. However, it turned out to be some guy who started grinding on me, when I tried to gently push him away saying, “no thanks” he just pressed closer when I pushed harder he said “woah, you’re grinding all up on me.” And I glanced over my shoulder to see him and his friends laughing. I was so uncomfortable that I just moved closer to my friends and waited for him to pass.
I wish I’d turned around and told him off for getting in my personal space and then trying to validate himself by saying that I was getting into his.
I felt violated and my friends and I left shortly after this happened. On our way out we reported this to the bouncer (with the friend I’d been dancing with pointing the guy who’d violated me out, as she’d gotten a good look at him.) He just laughed and said a “hot piece” like me should be used to it by now. On of my guy friends told him that he was an asshole and that his job was to protect the clients. He just scoffed and said something along the lines of, “come on, brah.”
Needless to say I’ll never be setting foot in there again.