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When my boyfriend was away for a few days last summer I decided, since the sun was shinig, to go for a walk around my local area. I ended up cutting my walk short because as I passed three seperate groups of builders working on houses each time at least one of the men working shouted some kind of suggestive or sexual comment at me. Although I wasn’t particularly shocked as I know that is is a common occurance for most women it made me wonder whether it is impossible for a woman to walk the streets of an ordinary British town without a man accompanying them and remain unharassed.
I had the misfortune to live with a ‘hollering from car’ type of guy (he was brought into our shared house, without our consent, by a dodgy landlord). It was the worst experience of my life.
Not only would he regale us with HILARIOUS tales detailing how him and his mates harassed women on the street (usually while cruising around in his car), he spent most nights sat very close to the TV, describing in graphic detail what he wanted to do to each and every woman that appeared. And I mean graphic. I’m not particularly easily shocked, but this was way too much for me. On top of his rampant misogyny, he was also physically threatening to our lone male housemate and liked to go on and on about how he was an expert in martial arts and regularly beat people up on the street. In short, he was a psychopath. Needless to say, we moved out of there as fast as we possibly could (losing our deposits and a months rent in the process, which still makes me angry to this day).
I now am firmly of the belief that all men who holler from cars are low life scum of the earth with serious personality defects!
Firstly, thanks for setting up such a great site.
Here’s my story. I am very tall (nearly 6 foot) and like to wear miniskirts and so often get stared at while walking down the street (though I don’t usually notice because I’m wrapped up in my own thoughts).
One nice summer evening, I was sitting outside the Park and Ride hut in Cambridge waiting for my husband to finish work when this older guy comes up and sits at one end of the bench I was sitting on. I wasn’t very comfortable with that but decided to ignore it. The next second he jumped closer to me, and then did it again. I was so terrified that he was going to grab me and try and assault me so I got up and ran into the hut where the male attendant sits. (He is great by the way and kept an eye on me until my husband came to pick me up.)
The guy who had been harassing me followed me into the hut and started telling me some story about how he had mistaken me for his daughter and didn’t mean any harm etc. I ignored him as my instincts were screaming at me that this man is trying to attack me. He eventually went outside (probably because the male attendant was there). I sat there completely terrified with my rape alarm in one hand and my mobile phone in the other until my husband arrived. Ever since then, I haven’t been comfortable waiting at the Park & Ride for my husband, and drive to work rather than using the Park & Ride.
I feel angry about this as I have been forced to change what I do and miss out on exercise outside each evening because of the actions of a man who couldn’t keep his feelings to himself. It shouldn’t have to be this way.
I live in central Nottingham and I am used to the normal chaos of the city, I get looked at on the street and ‘beeped’ at regularly. However, about six weeks ago a gang of men and children (I haven’t seen any women/mothers yet…) moved into a house at the end of the street. When I first passed the house a couple of men shouted ‘Smile!’ because it was early in the morning and I wasn’t in the best of moods! I paid them no mind. I passed again the day after and the day after that, they remembered what I looked like and kept shouting it at me, I’d just rush past with my head down. I passed one evening and the number of men seemed to have doubled and I felt intimidated when they shouted at me from the other side of the road, but they didn’t do anything but shout ‘Come on love, give us a smile!’. It was the following morning when I was heading off to college that a couple of little boys and their Dad came out of their house, the dad shouted the usual ‘Oi! Smile!’ a couple of times, when I didn’t respond he got the kids to run after me shouting ‘Smile!’ until I had turned the corner, off the street. It was equally embarrassing and scary! It’s disgusting that that man is teaching his kids to bully and intimidate women, and really hard for me knowing that they know who I am and that they could be living there for many years to come! I now walk a longer way to and from my house; it is inconvenient and makes me very, very angry!
As a teenager I used to hate walking past building sites or anywhere that groups of men were hanging out. I never found it flattering to be whistled at or having guys calling out to me. My defense used to be to appear as stony-faced as possible, in the hope that they’d think I was a moody cow and not worth approaching. This invariably backfired because what I used to get was “Cheer up love, it might never happen!”
I heard this cliched cheeky chappie expression so many times! After the umpteenth time I suddenly came up with a brilliant reposte. “Actually, it just did.”
Most of them took a few seconds to get what I had said, some of them never did.
What is a bit bizarre is that I still brace myself when I walk past a building site, even though I’m 55 years old and have been “invisible” for years!
I have been harassed in my town several times but two times specifically stood out to me. The first one was when I was in 8th grade and was walking 4 blocks away to my friends house.There was this white car passing by slowly. He passed me several times… I was panicking, I didn’t know what to do. I started walking faster and it passed around the block again. I finally made it to my friends house and I knocked my heart out while looking down the street both ways. He opened the door and I ran inside hysterical. My friend closed the door and was concerned and later walked me home. Note: this happened during day light.
The second was last year during my sophomore year. This was on the same street from the previous incident. I had gotten off the train and was walking home. There were three boys older than me walking ahead of me slowly. Even before they started calling at me I felt like something was going to happen. They were walking in front of me waiting for me to pass them so they could probably do something. They all made typical calls encouraging each rooting for each other. My heart was racing…. I hate walking slow and doing so then just made it seem like this would last forever. I made sure to keep my distance but I didn’t want to stop walking altogether or I thought they might do something. A corner came up… I thought I would detour my route because I thought they wouldn’t go out of their way to turn back to follow me. So I walked 5 blocks just to avoid them, when my destination was only 2 blocks away…. but I also didn’t want them to know where I was going.
I was at a metal concert in Seattle at Studio Seven when a guy behind me decided it would be a great idea to grab my behind. His hand stayed there. It was a loud concert and very crowded, so no one noticed. My elbow immediately fell behind me as I very gently gutted him in the stomach. (It is a natural reflex, after being trained in self defense) I turned around to look at him, and he said “What the heck?!” I said, “Don’t touch me again.” and walked away.
By VIOLET KITTAPPA
Congratulations to our comrades in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The Patriot-News reports that 150 students at Dickinson College have been protesting since Wednesday, demanding that campus sexual assaults be broadcast through the college’s Red Alert system in real time and that perpetrators of catcalls and lewd comments are disciplined.
The article reports that President Bill Durden agreed to study student requests, if they agreed to one of his own: ‘to tackle campus alcohol abuse and incivility that contribute to safety problems’, throwing the old red herring into the discussion to avoid just focusing on the problem.
You want that whole ‘can’t murder people on campus’ law thing to be enforced? FINE. But first, do me a favor by not abusing alcohol.
Hey, Bill Durden, sexual assault is a crime. Period. How about you just tackle that first, then we can talk about addressing incivility.
This happened a long time ago, but I remember it vividly because it was the very first time I hollaed back.
I was 18 and living in Paris at the time, and as all Parisians, used the subway to get pretty much anywhere. I was coming back from a long cramming session at the university library, mid-terms were coming up and I was studying non stop. It was around 23h30, when a bulky bald man sat next me. I smiled quickly and went back to my book. A few minutes later, I felt something against my leg; I was wearing a skirt and tights. When I looked down at my thigh, I saw a finger circling a certain spot on my leg. I was confused for a few seconds, I looked at the man’s face and he was looking forwards as if nothing was happening. The subway wasn’t crowded, the guy wasn’t even worried about getting caught.
I stood up and ordered him to keep his filthy paws to himself, and told him I was going to contact security as soon as we reached the next stop. I was speaking loudly, making it a point of others hearing, although I don’t do that often. I was just so angry and disgusted. I told him I might have been barely eighteen but I was big to enough to stand up for myself and to know that there was no justification for his behavior. At that point he tried to get off the subway, and another passenger stepped in and told the guy he had already pressed the emergency button and security would be there in a few minutes. That same guy offered to escort me to my stop, I quote “but I’m pretty sure you don’t need it, I wish more women did what you did”.
Since that day I always answer back. Why is it that we are made to believe that answering back is rude or a sign of lack of class, and don’t even consider the behavior that prompted such reaction in the first place?
There is nothing rude about reminding a jerk that you are not an inflatable doll with no brain or willpower. Holla back every single time!
Submitted by Patricia Camelo
I’m 40 damn years old. I thought by now I’d get a break from this crap.
Went into supermarket the other day. At front door saw a man I sort of knew, he was at a booth selling phone plans. I recognized him as the husband of one of my husband’s associates, if that makes sense. The four of us had had drinks together a few months ago.
Because of that connection, I gave him a fulsome “Hey, how you doing?” and stopped to chat. He took the opportunity to say, “Wow, don’t you look good enough to eat? All fit and everything too, wow and you’re stopping to talk to me, whoa how sexy.” Giving me the creepy up-and-down stare and licking his lips.
I was dumbstruck. Seriously, I stood there saying, “What?” Like, was that a joke gone wrong? Had I misheard?
He said, “Have we met?” and I said, “Yeah, my husband and I had drinks with you and your wife. Your wife and my husband are on the town council together.”
He was like, “Yeah, uh, we’re not together anymore.” BIG SURPRISE. Clearly he couldn’t remember meeting me. Maybe he’s a drunk, or crazy. Who knows. (He actually seemed funny and perfectly nice that night we all went out. Go figure.)
I could kick myself: I should have just turned on my heel and left, but I felt so bad for him I let him give me one of the little phone pamphlets before I left.
Fast forward to today: I have to pop in the supermarket. Just as I was pulling in the parking lot I thought, crap, what if creepy guy’s there? Oh well, if I change my shopping schedule, the terrorists have won.
Sure enough, there he is, in his little booth at the entrance. He waved and I gave him the breeze-by, and I heard him shouting after me. Good lord. Then, I’m doing my shopping, and I see him hurry around a corner, notice me, and then come trotting up to me.
Dude accosts me at the damn dairy counter, saying, “Is something wrong?”
I didn’t look at him, but used my Mom Voice to say, “EXCUSE ME PLEASE” while turning and walking away. I decided that if he followed me I would go to security. He didn’t.
Now, I’ve dealt with way way worse, as have most of you. Somehow it just gave me a flashback to all those times of being groped and having strangers or acquaintances accost me and ask to cum on my tits or whatever, for years and years. Can I ever get a rest from it?
Submitted by Iola