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First I should explain myself and how I’ve come to realize unwanted attention is not OK. I live in the South, where ladies are said to be gentle, and I know they put up with a lot of crap. My mother always loved unwanted attention from men, she flirted back and fed off of it.
I myself am much more modest and uncomfortable with such encounters. I grew up thinking it was OK for the attention and that I should bask in it and consider it a validation of my attractiveness and womanhood.
Fast forward to present day. My sister and I decide to go out one weekend for drinks and dancing with our Dad. Two men join our table that dad knows from the bar he frequents. They seem harmless enough, but one constantly lies to me about his age and agonizingly comments on how beautiful I am. No conversation had.
Dad leaves, my sister and I decide to dance, leaving said men at the table. All of a sudden the guy who lies about his age comes up behind me and starts dancing. (Note: I hate dancing with dudes. It’s gross). I try to move away and he immediately smacks my ass. It’s over, but I’m enraged. I give him a verbal lashing how that is never OK and force him to apologize. Although I did get an apology, I have a feeling he didn’t get the message.
I am a 20-something living and working abroad.I live in a small village and must travel to a neighboring city to shop for food. Every time I go to this city I am hollered at in multiple languages and men make kissy noises at me. I have been followed on numerous occasions and grabbed by strange men a few times. I am in public areas during the day where other people see this happen, and no one does anything. No one says a word when I am running down the street from a man who keeps grabbing me and “wants to just talk.” Locals laugh it off as “well of course, you are foreign and they want to get papers.”
The organization I work for tells me not to travel alone and to just ignore it. I hate feeling afraid and having no allies near me to help me in this situation. I hate that I cannot have any kind of relationship or even a simple conversation with a man without him thinking I want to have sex with him. I have a male friend who lives a few hours from me and has offered to come shopping with me to hopefully reduce the amount of harassment, but I do not want to have to have a man with me for other men to leave me alone. I just want to be able to get food and go places on my own and not be afraid.
The above link is not my story, but the story of another woman…similar to stories everywhere, including my own. The injustice. The shame. The embarrassment. The rage.
I was cursed with beauty and in my youth and had dozens of my own experiences: sexual harassment and assault, cat calls, blatant staring at my breasts or crotch, whistles, honking, men masturbating in public near me, etc. I’m thankful to be middle-aged now–I am almost invisible.
I saw a post on FB today: When a man is raped, no one talks about what he was wearing.
Random guy came out of the building that was attached to the porch I was smoking on with some friends. I didn’t see him coming as my back was turned, and as he passed he gave a strange caress to the back of my neck. It was extremely inappropriate and was the second time he has touched me in a way I do not like. STILL has never introduced himself or anything. Next time I see him I will be giving him a piece of my mind.
I was out with my friend in the city that I love so very much, and I experienced the most real sexual harassment in my 24 years, twice. We were at a bar and this guy came up to us and asked if we we wanted a drink and I said, “I’m sorry, but we’re good.” Which he didn’t like at all and didn’t understand why we didn’t want a drink. I tried to explain to him that he needed to respect the fact that we didn’t want anything, we didn’t want to be talked to or touched. He proceeded to call me a bitch because I didn’t want to talk to him, so I told him he needed to back off.
I think no one would be surprised that he wasn’t pleased by that, so he threatened me with, “What are you going to do, anyway?” And my friend and his friend said to just walk away, so I did, to not cause a scene. Then we went to another bar where the EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED! And I told a bouncer at the new bar that I had been assaulted and I didn’t want to file a complaint, I just wanted to know that there was someone looking out for the other women there, because when I left to go find a bouncer the new assaulter had a girl by the neck. The bouncer seemed to think I had made it up. More than I hate to think that women are being assaulted in the hospitality state, I hate to think that women are being shamed for sticking up for other women. I worry because I had to ask two women if they were okay because I wasn’t comfortable with the appearance of the situation, and they were both so shocked that someone would pay attention enough to be concerned.
I was biking down the streets of Kiev wearing short but modest white sports shorts. As I was on the road riding towards the metro, a man who was walking with two other women holding shopping bags slapped my butt as I rode past. I turned around to yell at him and he smiled smugly back at me as if he were proud of what he did. I didn’t know what to do though this has happened before to me.
A few friends and I went to our favorite bar one evening. First my two friends had their asses grabbed by a drunk prick. Later, as we were standing and chatting, I glanced behind me to see a man sitting with his hand outstretched toward my skirt, wiggling his fingers. He was making this gesture to a table of people he was sitting with. I immediately sought out the bar manager and reported him. As I was walking back to my friends I saw that this drunk asshole had started arguing and was bumping chests against a male friend of mine. Apparently in my absence he had hit on my other two female friends and tried to put his arms around them. One of them pushed him off and he pushed her backwards. I ran back to the bar manager who promptly grabbed a bouncer and escorted him and his drunk friends out of the bar. Later in the bathroom the jerk’s female friends apologized to me.
15 years ago, when I was 15 years old, I got off my school bus and was walking home with my saxophone case in one hand. A young adult man came up from behind me and lifted my school uniform skirt. He looked me in the eyes to see my reaction, and when I started to chase him he started running. I had no chance to catch up to him, but I still ran for blocks. It was humiliating. People around me stared.
Later that year I was walking home from school. An older gardener man came up from behind me in his bike and grabbed my butt and sped off. I had no chance to even react. I felt muted.
Teenage boy reached out and grabbed my vagina as he was walking past me with four of his friends and then they ran away laughing and shouted, “shut the fuck up bitch!”
My boyfriend and I decided to go on a weekend away in Milano. I had never been there and was pleased to see what a modern city it is and how everything works.
We were going for the train back home and took the metro to the main station, and my boyfriend was leaning against the door while I was holding his arm, facing him. The car was crowded, but we all had enough space to move around comfortably. At first I thought that the guy behind me had lost his balance, and that was why he was so close to me. When he didn’t get back to a polite distance, I suspected something. I kept pushing closer to my boyfriend and the door but the guy would follow my every movement. My boyfriend got irritated, not understanding what was going on, and that’s when I realized that I was paralyzed, unable to speak up. At last the door opened and I bursted out of the car.
Now would be a good time to say that I am a militant feminist, that I am involved in politics and am used to seeing ordinary sexism for what it is. However, my first reflex has been to add layers to my clothing… I know it’s not the victims fault, and there is nothing to be ashamed of…how many times have I said that in public, in front of a crowd? But that day, I felt ashamed, dirty and guilty…
I wish I could say I shouted at him and took a picture, but I didn’t. As someone who never misses an opportunity to point at machismo and street harassment, I was speechless.