Travelling on a public coach in the daytime down the highway, I look out the window at a car driving in the next lane. The male driver (who can only see my head) catches my eye and makes a masturbatory gesture with his hand until we drive out of sight. I feel, as usual, totally helpless. That day on my way to the bus, I had already been cussed out on the sidewalk as a ‘bitch’ by another male stranger, while walking past him (in broad daylight, fully dressed). Last time I was out of town and crossing a street (again in broad daylight, fully dressed), two men in a car driving by threw a liquid out of their window and all over me, then watched my reaction in their car mirrors. I just want to be able to travel without experiencing verbal, gestural or physical assaults on my confidence and my person. I would characterise these as sexual in nature because it is males on their own insulting a young woman on her own.
I cut through a mini park six feet away from a main street, at 7:30 in the morning, to catch a bus, towing a suitcase. This apparently is enough provocation for a man on a bench nearby, who looks the worse for wear, to issue a steady stream of abuse until I am out of sight, most of which I miss but which clearly includes the word ‘bitch’. It is broad daylight, in a public place, and I am dressed from head to foot. Even if it was night, an alley, and a miniskirt, I am not a bitch.
More times than I can count I’ve been walking in Seattle and been yelled at from cars by men. Things like “how much are you?” and “I’d ride that all day.” My style varies and I’ve been yelled at like this in a dress with tights, jeans and a tshirt, and short skirts. It doesn’t matter what I dress like or the fact that I’m a full-figured woman; men just assume that I am a commodity to be bought. But I’m not.
I work very early in the morning and I occasionally take the bus rather than walking to work if I’m running late. This morning I was waiting for the bus, reading a book and two men walked up to the bus stop. They got very close to me and told me I was beautiful and moved closer. I told them to fuck off and they walked away. Then they came back and told me I was still beautiful. I told them if they didn’t leave me alone I would call the police. They laughed and told me it isn’t a crime to look at a beautiful woman. I told them no, to stop and to leave me alone. They finally left but not before calling me a bitch and yelling fuck you a lot.
When I was a freshman in high school, a large group of older boys at school thought that the most hilarious running joke would be proclaiming their love to me over and over again. It did not help that I was physically mature for my age. On Valentine’s Day, they sent me over 30 carnations in front of my whole class. I did not know what to do besides laugh along with everyone else, while secretly feeling uncomfortable. Girls are taught through pop culture that a boy harassing them out of passion is a dear proclamation of love, and should be yielded to tenderly. What these boys were really doing was asserting their male power at my expense, and continuously belittling me in an academic setting. I was an intelligent student who was remembered for my boobs.
One day, my best friend came over to have a movie marathon with me. Since I was inside, I felt comfortable wearing a pair of thighs and a fringed shirt.We ran out of water, so we decided to go and buy another bottle. I felt too lazy about changing attire,and since it was extremely hot outside,I didn’t see any problem in wearing those clothes. At the market, two men, late teens-early 20’s looking, were waiting behind us at the cashier.They started to point at my behind, laughing and making inappropriate remarks about my body. I was just doing what I do whenever I am verbally harassed, smiling and ignoring the harasser, acting like I don’t give a damn. In reality, I felt extremely uncomfortable, but I kept on pointing at food and telling my friend how much I like this and that, pretending I was unaware of them.I thought my friend didn’t notice,but when we walked out of the shop, she half-jokingly told me to dress up properly when I’m hanging out with her, or else she will pretend that she “doesn’t know me”. I was shocked that she wasn’t siding with me in the slightest. And the worst thing in this whole situation was that I was barely 13 back then. I was harsh with myself for wearing an outfit that wasn’t even supposed to be deemed as sexual. Happenings like these are why I want to end slut-shaming.
So today I went to K-mart with my grandma I was wearing my TMNT shirt & it has a lot of purple on it so i wore purple eye-shadow to match it. I had on just normal eyeliner top/bottom & mascara no foundation/cover up anything like that, & I asked her if I could go look for a Starbucks drink cup there. She said I could so I was walking around looking for the drink isle & when i got there, there was a guy getting some kind of tea or something & he kept staring at me while I was trying to decide which drink I wanted so finally I got sick of it & said “can I help you?” He said, ” I was just thinking you shouldn’t wear that much make-up guys aren’t gonna like you if you cake shit on your face like that” then walked away over to his friend.
I over heard the word ‘slut’ & considering I was the only person around I assume he meant me– keep in mind he was probably like 25 at the least. This made me so mad… like seriously what gives you the right to stare at me then fucking harass me about my make-up & call me a ‘slut’? Also what the hell makes him think I wear make-up to impress guys? I do my make-up because I like it not because i’m concerned if anyone else does or not. Also what does my make-up have to do with me being or not being a slut? Anyways that just really pissed me off so bad i literally wanted to punch him straight in the face!! (Also i’m not trying to say anything bad about ‘sluts’)
A man started yelling at me from across the street. I tuned him out before I heard much of what he had to say, and flipped him the bird while my boyfriend yelled back at him. He was very disrespectful and a pig and I hope he’ll learn to leave other women alone and act like an adult (though admittedly I don’t think that’s too likely).
I was hanging out with my friends at a convention held at a university in my city and they had stopped to check out a booth and look through some artwork. I was standing near them browsing through some of the items nearby when a guy, who I suppose was the owner of the booth, came up to me and asked me if I was finding everything, what I was looking for, the usual. As he was saying this, he put his hand on my back (I was cosplaying and was wearing a midriff bearing shirt) and started inching his hand up it underneath the shirt. I got really uncomfortable but didn’t know what to do so I just stepped away from him towards my friends. He followed me and stood really closely beside me for the next couple of minutes until I could get my friends’ attention and we could leave.
My high school years were absolutely plagued with this, to an awful degree. While I proudly identify as queer now, at the time, I assumed I was straight and just a bit more masculine than my peers, and that was enough for them to make my school years borderline hellish. Because I was more masculine, I was called a dyke, ugly, fat, and boys would actually ask me out and verbally harass me (“Hey, you’re so sexy, show us your tits!”), not just because my reaction would be an uncomfortable one, but because they thought I was THAT ugly that someone asking me out was a hilarious joke. My ass (which is fairly curvaceous, since I have a pear-shaped body) was also slapped regularly, almost every time I had to stand up in class, for similar reasons. The reason why I’m putting it here is because, since they never did anything “worse” than that, the teachers treated it the same as they did with minor things like name-calling – that is, they gave these boys a slap on the wrist and let them continue. If they’d have tried to grab my boobs or crotch, they’d have been treated much more harshly – instead, the verbal harassment and groping I received was ignored, as was the homophobia (which, while not awful, has prevented me from coming out to people as an adult). Boys need to be taught that treating women and girls this way just isn’t acceptable, or funny – that they aren’t already is a major educational failing.