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When I was in highschool, there was a guy who was constantly harassing me. He was friends with a friend of mine, and our school wasn’t so big, so he was always around it seemed and even in a few of my classes. He always commented on my breasts (I have fairly large ones), would say I had “the perfect BJ mouth”, and wouldn’t let up when I asked him to stop. I had one class with him where he sat right next to me, and during the class he would suddenly grab my breast and grin at me when I would look at him in shock. This happened almost every day, and when I would confront him he would laugh and say, “it was a ghost!” It really bugs me that, not only did he get away with it, but my teacher never seemed to care. We sat in front of his desk, and I knew he was aware. It made me so uncomfortable because the guy was popular and I would most likely get harassed more if I went to the principle. I felt powerless.
A couple of years ago I was walking through my high school when someone, dressed in uniform I may add, grabbed my butt from behind. I was speechless and felt hurt and degraded. I looked back only to see the man who wasn’t even a student with a smirk on face, like he was proud of what he did or felt it was his right to do so. Ugh! Disgusting.
This incident happened on a train station. It was night time and I came from school. Typical day, crowded station and people pushing. I was lining up to slip in the card to the entrance when a man behind me just got too close. So close I could feel his crotch on my butt and his chest on my back. I looked at him but that didn’t stop him to push me in that manner. I was so scared and almost cried that time.
It seems unreal but as a woman your day really does revolve around where can I go, what can I wear, can I run in these if I have too, look down don’t make eye contact, always be prepared to run, keep your head on the swivel. It feels like 70’s sometimes! I had gone away to college and in my few years there I’d been chased, followed, groped, sexually harassed and intimidated and I was at the end of my rope. I was young and didn’t understand so I began to blame myself. What am I doing, what am I wearing, how am presenting myself to make men think they can treat me this way? In your own mind you know you’re a person, a human being, you are your own but as a woman you’re constantly being told the contrary.
A few weeks ago a friend’s girlfriend was savagely knocked unconscious and raped on the side walk on her way home from class. That day my friend and I were biking to our school building when a guy screams out as us ‘Bitch I got something for you!’ and whips his penis out as us. We looked away and biked faster, the rapist that attacked my friend’s girlfriend was never found. When class ended I was headed home alone and I see this guy coming up to me, at first I look down trying not to catch his attention but still I hear him say ‘Ooohh shit..’ and he starts coming up to me making whispering noises. I remembered earlier that day and I remembered my friend’s girlfriend and I get angry and I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the constant fear and look up right in his face as he gets closer to me. ‘Look, I don’t deserve this! I’m just trying to get home like everybody else and I have a right to do that.’
He gets kind of startled like he was shocked I could actually speak, like you would if your shoe rack suddenly yelled at you for putting your shoes on it. ‘Don’t deserve what?’ he starts looking confused and cautious. ‘I don’t deserve this! This is sexual harassment, I don’t deserve you running up on me when I’m just trying to get home!’ He gets this weird look on his face at the word ‘sexual harassment’ and actually has the nerve to sound righteous, ‘How do you know I was hollering at you?’ I look around stunned. ‘We’re the only two people here! You have a mother, you might have a sister, would you really want someone running up on them when they’re all by themselves talking all threateningly to them like this?’ He throws the righteous game out the window when he’s called out and just goes straight to anger.
He sticks his chest out like he’s getting ready to hit me and gets even closer, I stand my ground and look straight back, I’m not running anymore if he beats me up he beats me up. ‘Bitch you wouldn’t get it if you weren’t advertising! You advertising!’ He might as well have hit me for how it felt. I didn’t really have a reply because I wasn’t advertising anything, whatever he actually meant by advertising but I had an idea. That’s when it all made sense, the surprise when I had the audacity to speak, the righteousness when I dared to spurn his threatening advances and the anger when I continued to assert myself. It had nothing to do with what I was wearing, what I was doing, how I looked, or me at all.
Because I wasn’t a person. I was a hole, an object, a shoe rack with no vocal chords, no face, no wants, no right to itself. I was a shoe rack and how dare I object to having shoes placed on me. Is that not why I was created? Is that not my singular purpose in life? The law doesn’t apply to shoe racks, what rights does a pile of wood and rubber have? There was nothing I could say to him, because where I was arguing about my right to be treated as an equal and he was arguing the legitimacy of my very humanity. I biked home as fast as I could and still heard him yelling after me ‘You adverting! You advertising!’ I got home, shut my self in my room, and sobbed for the rest of the day. I wasn’t a person, I wasn’t a survivor or a victim, I was just a woman and that’s practically nothing. I had thought maybe the sexually harassment stemmed from men not knowing women find it threatening and demeaning. Maybe if I stood my ground and let them know I hated it, maybe the surprise and shame would stop it. It never really occurred to me that they simply don’t care if we hate it because they don’t even think about it.
Another instance, a few years later I was walking down the crowded main street of down town San Diego in the afternoon. Four men are walking towards me on the side walk, I look down and side step but the biggest one follows me. I’m about to just run when he grabs me by the arm and pulls me into him. I yell ‘NO!’ and ‘STOP!’ and trying to get away but his friends just laugh and he starts grinding his groin into me in broad daylight in the middle of a busy sidewalk. People actually have to walk around us as I’m struggling. No one does anything, they just look down and keep walking and at last I’m able to shove my way out of his grip. He and his friends keep laughing and making kissing noises and cat calls. I start crying on the street on no one stops. It was witnessed by everybody, men, women, police, children. It just didn’t matter. Its the worst feeling in the world of something to seem so devastating to you but matter so incredibly little to everybody else. If it doesn’t matter to anyone then does it really even matter at all? It matters. It means everything! I want every woman and girl to know that we deserve better! We deserve the right to safety, life, happiness.
We deserve more than to live our lives on the perpetual Rape Clock! Its up to us to demand more and demand more for those that aren’t able to do it themselves yet. It’s not about hating men or villainizing men because the people we want better for are the daughters, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives of men. No father should constantly have to tell his daughter to be safe every time she leaves the house and worry until she comes back because this shouldn’t be a world where the contrary would cross his mind. As women we need to support each other because we all know what it was like to be beaten down and dehumanized and left to deal with the aftermath all alone. I also want to thank HollaBack for making it easier for us to reach out to each other and share out stories and our support.
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.