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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
Among the reasons I am leaving my job is the sexual harassment. It makes me uncomfortable and angry. At the supermarket where I just finished my last day (thank god!) I am hit on in subtle and not-subtle ways, and have been since I started working there.
The guys in produce stare at me whenever I have to go there. I used to have little conversations with them, to be friendly, and to break language barriers, and just be nice and make connections. But all these old guys (30s and up) smile in that sickening way, indicating that this is not a normal conversation, but that they want to fuck me. I can tell.
Same thing with the deli guys, old men hitting on me and giving me more smile than makes sense for the situation. I hate it. It makes me feel dirty and attacked and sexualized when I don’t want to be. It makes me feel like I can have a normal nice conversation with a man at my job (only with a woman), because they will imagine fucking me while I am talking to them. It disgusts me.
On top of that, when I first started working there, my manager Victor kept hitting on me and telling me how “sexy” I was, when I was completely insecure in this new job. I think I said something back to him…but honestly I don’t remember, because I’ve blocked it out.
Victor does that to all of the new girls and it is fucking unacceptable. Recently a girl was talking about telling the bigger manager, Tommy, about Victor (as if he doesn’t know! as if he’ll do something about it). She talked about a sexual harassment lawsuit if Tommy wouldn’t do anything about it. I told her I was behind her and would talk to him and do whatever if she would. But I don’t know if she did anything, we never talked about it again and honestly I would rather just get the hell out of that place.
I also have customers bothering me and hitting on me. The other day I was in the park by my house and this guy passed me and started talking to me, he’s a customer that always goes on my line, is 40 something maybe, and I made the mistake of having a friendly conversation with him at some point in the past. So now he knows a little about my life! Oh god. He knows I’ve been to Germany and he always talks German at me when I see him, and gives me the creepy smile. That same goddamn creepy smile, that seems to be intended to make me despise all men. So that guy passes me in the park and starts talking German at me again. I wanted to shout “I hate you and I hate that fucking language!!” (Because it reminds me of Nazis and the holocaust). Instead I just said “I don’t understand you” as he jogged away, and I avoided looking at him every other time he passed me.
These harassments remind me off all other harassments and worse that I’ve been through. I feel powerless and furious at the same time. I feel attacked from all sides. I hate it. I wish I could do something, and I know I can, by talking back to them, yelling back at them, or shaming them in front of other people. But I still feel horrible every time something like this happens, which is sadly almost every day.
Submitted by Emma
My friend and I had gotten on the wrong COTA bus to go to the local movie theater. Instead, we ended up downtown after business hours. The area was completely deserted except an older drunk man who proceeded to sit right next to me. When he started to talk to me, I didn’t want to be rude so we had a short exchange. But when he asked “is your hair real?,” and then started to touch my hair, I knew things weren’t going in the right direction. He wrapped his arm around me and started kissing me on the side of the face, and all I could do was quietly mumble, “I don’t know you, this is so awkward, I don’t know you.” When he began yelling at me to take out my septum piercing and verbally insulting my friend (telling her to “do more situps”,) I was terrified. I didn’t even know what to do. I was afraid to even walk away in case he would try to hurt me because he was very, very drunk and belligerent. After minutes of excruciating groping, a series of COTA buses rolled up and he just wandered away. I don’t think he was even taking a bus. He just stopped over to sexually harass me.
Right after, all my friend and I could do was laugh about the weirdness of the situation, but I was secretly uncomfortable and afraid. I still feel uncomfortable now when I am alone at night, and I am always afraid that I am the type of person that is too afraid to stand up for myself.
Submitted by Kathryn
This happened a long time ago, when I was 15, but it still sticks out to me as one of the creepier things that has ever happened to me.
I was walking home after school, it must have been April or May and it was warm out. There was a Mr. Softee ice cream truck on the corner on 2nd ave and 11th, and I wanted to buy some chocolate soft serve with my leftover lunch money. I walk up, and the ice cream man takes my order. He gives me the ice cream, I give him my money, and before I can start to walk away he asks me my name. I lied and said “Nancy,” he told me that that was a very beautiful name. He asked me where I lived and I said “in the neighborhood,” then I smiled and started to walk away. I was walking downtown, in the direction of traffic, and moments later I realize that *he is following me in the ice cream truck.* He yells out the window and asks where I’m headed. Completely freaked out, I turn around and walk against traffic without responding.
I was 15 years old and I only wanted some goddamn ice cream, but instead I was made to feel completely disgusting. Thanks, ice cream man.
Submitted by Syd
When I was around fourteen or fifteen I went with my Latin class to Italy, and we took a day trip to Pisa to see the tower and cathedral there. From the train station you have to take a bus to get to the more touristy attractions, and it was on that bus on the way back when I noticed a man standing a little too close to me from behind.
Every time the bus lurched he would press into me, and I could feel his erection – he was wearing baggy sweatpants of a thin material. I kept inching away from him but the bus was crowded and I couldn’t move much. I was completely petrified – although I was already used to men making comments about me (which seemed to happen especially frequently in Italy, although I was living in a small town at the time where I was kind of an “alternative” kid and didn’t “fit in” so maybe it’s an unfair contrast) no one had ever touched me like this before. I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, one of my friends’ mothers was a chaperone on the trip, and she caught on to what was happening and offered to switch places with me.
I have been lucky enough to have traveled extensively, but almost everywhere I’ve been it seems like someone is going to harass me – including the time, during my second trip to Italy, a young man told me he “loved my boobs” – while I was walking with my mother.
I’m now attending college in New York City, which isn’t really a reduction in the harassment. I love New York but I’d really like to be able to go a day without a wolf whistle or a comment.
Submitted by Li