Buffalo, especially the west side, is a breeding ground for sexual predators. I go to a local college in this area called D’youville and all the young women who go here are subjected to harassment daily. It’s so regular for us that it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore. Every day when walking home or around campus men openly stop their cars to stare at us, whistle at us to get our attention, stop in their tracks to turn around and stare, and yell “compliments” it needs to stop.
I was walking alone to a bus stop. A guy in a truck was going past me and then I noticed the truck again ! It looked like someone I knew and he pulled into a private but still public place so I peered over . He smirked at me , pointed up at me , made a gesture to offer me money like I was a prostitute and motioning me to get in the car!! Mind you I am wearing pants and a t shirt . I walk away but the truck followed me . I ran to the student dorms and hid with my friend.
Being stared at, catcalled, greeted by a random male stranger is a regular occurrence as I walk through the streets and parks of the small city where I work. The two most particular comments that I hear are that 1) I have pretty eyes and that 2) I should smile. I quickly realized that the best strategy is to carry my Iphone in my hand and stick in my earbuds. Even if I’m not actually listening to music I can pretend that I don’t hear anything.
However, two recent incidents still upset me when I think about them. The first: I left my house to walk the short distance to the bus stop. Between my home and the bus stop is a convenience store; outside of which was a man standing by his motorcycle who I could tell was waiting for me to walk past. How could I tell? Because he had just pulled up to the store as I stepped into the street and instead of going in he stayed outside and stared at me as I walked toward the store, making what takes less than 30 seconds feel like an interminable length of time. As I walked past attempting to ignore him because I already felt uncomfortable, he spoke, so I spoke and kept going. Here’s where things get scary. I got to the bus stop and a split second later the man drove past, turned around, and pulled up to me on his motorcycle. This man followed me to tell me that when I speak to people that I should smile! My first reaction was anger until I realized that he was so close that if he had wanted to hit me I couldn’t have avoided it because I was stuck between him and the edge of the road, which fell away into bushes and brambles. I quickly edged away, told him to have a nice day, put in my trusty earbuds and ignored him until he drove away. And this was not the first or last time a man that I did not know pulled up to me on a motorcycle at that bus stop way too close for comfort.
The other incident makes me seethe because, although not scary, I was with my son at the time and the impotent feeling of having a strange man touch me, suddenly grip my arm in front of my boy and I wonder how that affected him to see my anger and frustration and shock and I wonder if he was scared or angry. I have never talked to him about it. I just swept it away so that we could continue to enjoy our day. Also, because my child was with me, not being able to respond the way that I would have if I had been alone or with another adult, foul-mouthed and possibly committing an assault of my own on this man. The fact that I still occasionally see this wastrel as I walk through the city and remember his incredulous response when I yelled at him not to touch me, as if he had the right, that it was okay because he didn’t mean it in a negative way. How dare he?! HOW DARE HE?!
In numerous occasions when men would stare and say harassing things, I found it most effective to look them in the eyes and say Ina clear, strong voice:
“Didn’t your mama teach you not to stare?”
A man followed me along with with my co workers, some were male, to the crosswalk towards our parking lot. He snapped a picture of my ass while we were waiting for the light. My male Co worker heard the snap and threw his phone to the ground.
I’m living in Calama, Chile which is effectively the shit- center of the universe. It’s a mining town occupied by double the amount of men as it is women. I’m white, I’ve never been a minority until I came here to teach English short term. I walk 6 blocks to the school in the morning, and in that time I get stared at, kissed at, honked at, and talked to in every type of way. I absolutely hate it. I hate more that people don’t think it’s a problem, and by people I mean men and women. It’s sick.
Not very recent at all, but still relevant. Once when I was 11 or 12 years old, I was out with my mom when a man came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go out for drinks. The man was probably 40 years older than me. He followed us up the block before giving up. My mother didn’t try to defend me or get rid of the man, nor did she talk to me about it later. Because my mom blamed me and never tried to protect me from bullying in school, I assumed that street harassment was also my fault.
As an avid runner, I wanted to go for a longer run today as it was nice out. I put on a race shirt thats a little to big for me and my leggings (most comfy to run in) I then began my run. I usually run in residential areas, but today I ran into town. I was heading into the town just running as usual when the first car honked. I disregarded it. 10 minutes later, another honk. To top it off I was outside starbucks on the sidewalk with other people. It was a slowish area due to a yellow light when a car drove slowly next to me with two men in their late teens/early twenties. Note: i am 15. I had my headphones in so I couldnt hear what they said, but one of them leaned out the window with a big grin and started saying something. I just ran away. I was scared. I’m 15 years old. I shouldn’t have to be afraid to run outside of a starbucks at 3:00 in the afternoon.
I went on a trip to London with my college and we travelled on the underground. when we all got on I had to stand next to two men sat down on seats as the carriage was really busy. one of them patted the space between them saying “you can sit here if you like, babe” and, scared, I looked away pretending I hadn’t heard. they then kept grinning at me, trying to catch my eye the whole journey. when me and the others on the college trip were getting off one of the men kept trying to trip me up. I said and did nothing, mainly because all of my classmates who had seen it either acted like it was nothing or were finding it funny. I don’t know why, but I was terrified. I felt like crying afterwards
I was just so embarrassed on the train earlier today. One of these guys in a group was blowing kisses at me, and then persisted on giving me compliments. His friends were laughing at him. I wanted to cuss him out, but something inside me just told me to ignore him. I did. I think the situation would have escalated if I had said something back to him. A woman told me as I got off the train that I should have moved because he could have been violent, since I was ignoring him. I agreed. Thank God he wasn’t violent. I got a sense that he wasn’t. But I just felt downright embarrassed because this guy was coming on to me in front of everyone on the train. The saddest part of it all was that these were middle aged men. Have they ever took a second to think about what if someone treated their daughter or sister like that? Shameful.