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My boyfriend showed me a story on CNN about street harassment and that’s where I saw the link for this site. I’m very torn about this, actually. On one hand, I’m glad there is a forum for women to share their experiences and vent out how frustrating these situations are, without fear of getting horrible comments that make you feel like you “were asking for it”. That’s not what we want to hear after we’ve been victimized. It isn’t a question of shaming nor is it a plea for pity and attention, but some people take it that way. The reason I’m so torn is that on the other hand, my heart breaks that there is a need for a site to express how we feel and worse, that there are so many women who have undergone these traumatic situations. The most recent instance I have had of unwanted sexual attentions (I’m not even counting the catcalls this morning as I was crossing the street to work) happened about a month ago. I was dressed in slacks and a button up uniform shirt for my internship in an office. I was on a crowded bus and found a pole to grab onto when I felt a man place his hand at the nape of my neck and run his hand down the length of my spine towards my rear. I froze in place: there was no mistaking the man’s touch for a simple accidental bump. Fortunately for me, a gentleman witnessed what happened and stood up and gave me his seat while calling out the other guy on his inappropriate behavior. He informed the bus driver of what had occurred and the creep was kicked off the bus. But the damage was done. I felt dirty. Worse, I caught myself thinking “I deserve this.” That’s what angered me most. I’m grateful someone stood up for me, though. It reminded me that it wasn’t my fault and that there are people who will stand up against injustices.
This happened last week. I know it’s not on the street but it was still uncalled for. It happened in a grocery store. It was my first time in the store since I had just moved to the area. Not 5 minutes into shopping, I hear someone whistling. When I look up, there’s a male employee looking at me and making kissy noises. He does it twice. I immediately turn down another aisle and far away as possible. But since the incident, I have emailed the store who say they will discuss it with their employees. My husband was very angry when I told him about it. Now I’m just paranoid to go places by myself.
More than once as I’ve walked to and from TAFE I’ve had the people who approach you on the street (to sign you up to a charity, to make donations etcetc) actually stand in front of me and not allow me to walk past. The first time it happened I was terrified. It was 2 in the afternoon, there was a lot of people walking around and this guy was shouting at me trying to get my attention, demanding to know why I wouldn’t stop and speak to him about (whoever he was working for) and it wasn’t until I looked up at him, and he saw how frightened I was and he looked around and saw all the people staring at him that he actually stood aside and let me walk past, still shouting after me.
BY EMILY MAY AND CATHERINE FAVORITE
Today Gawker featured the story of a woman who witnessed public masturbation on the subway – and the pictures she took in response. While we are happy to see Gawker highlighting the issue of street harassment, their analysis was off. Way off.
“Obviously, there’s no proof of lewd behavior in these pictures, just one woman’s story so, who knows, this guy could be innocent [emphasis added].
What is it with the media’s insistence that women’s reports of sexual violence are untrustworthy? It’s an old myth that stands in the way of progress. The FBI says that “unfounded” rape claims stand at 8%. But that tiny little 8% gives the media enough ammo to question all reports of sexual violence. Articles like Gawker’s tend to have a silencing effect on the rest of us, which is perhaps why 75-95% of rapes go unreported, making rape the “most under-reported crime” according to the American Medical Association. But why stop at questioning the victim? Gawker also offered the victim a little advice:
Also, it’s probably wise to contact the police before reaching out to a gossip blog when a crime has occurred.
Oh, Gawker. We know you’re DC-based so let’s fill you in on how this goes down. If you tell the NYPD, they might ignore you. If they don’t, you have to sit in front of a big black book of all the sexual offenders in the subway. If you don’t get totally freaked out and run screaming, you *might* find your guy. And then what? It’s a long, painful court process. No wonder victims turn to the internet for reprieve. And no wonder we have a robust “no coulda woulda shoulda” policy. Victims of sexual violence deserve to have whatever response makes sense to them most, because after all, it wasn’t their fault.
So Gawker, next time someone shares their experience of street harassment with you, perhaps you could politely suggest that gentlemen of the world refrain from public masturbation? It seems like good advice to us.
About 10 years ago (~2001) while I was living in Alexandria, VA, a friend and I decided to hit the Target store. I drove, and after parking we walked through the parking lot towards the store. As we neared the store, a car coming from our right slowed and stopped as we approached it I thought, “how nice, he’s stopping to let us pass in front of him.” How wrong I was. As we stepped in front of his car, I looked over to see the male driver with his penis out, masturbating madly with a huge grin on his face. I was still holding my keys in my hand, and I was so angry I acted without thinking. I jammed my keys into his car hood as we walked past, leaving a huge gouge in the paint all the way across. He didn’t do a thing…didn’t yell, didn’t honk, didn’t say a word, and we continued into a store. I still have fantasies about what I could have done with a can of pepper spray, given that his window was open!
We’ve been sending personal responses to all our donors thanking them, and this reply really struck a cord with us. The writer anonymously agreed to share it with us.
Thank YOU for everything you do. I only wish I could contribute more. I live in New York City and when I was working in an office I would get harassed almost every day going to or from work. Now I’m a freelance writer and I work from home so I encounter it less on the street but have started experiencing truly frightening things in bars. In the last few weeks, I had a man walk in on me in a bathroom stall (the lock was apparently broken) in an empty women’s bathroom, and just stand there and stare at me for a good ten seconds. He didn’t say anything or act surprised that he’d walked in on me or that he was in the wrong bathroom, and then he just calmly left. A week later, I was at another bar with all male friends and a guy who was alone at the bar, only about five feet away from me, was turning around to look at me every 30 seconds. Sometimes he’d turn his chair around completely and stare for a solid five minutes and listen to what I was saying as though he was in the conversation. When I took my phone out at one point to check my texts and Facebook and such, he took his phone out and pointed it directly at mine, so that it was only like two feet away, and then immediately spun his chair back around as soon as I put my phone away. (That was one of the strangest things and really scared me.) He was completely undeterred by me and all of my friends and my very angry boyfriend giving him nasty looks, and he did all of this for over an hour until I was so uncomfortable that I had stopped talking completely because I didn’t want him listening to me and didn’t want to leave the bar for fear of him following me anywhere, even if I was with other people. I’ve lived in cities before, but have never experienced anything like this, or the level and frequency of street harassment that occurs in New York. I lived in Baltimore for college for four years. I was harassed on the street ONCE, and another man sitting near him got up and started yelling at him, “How dare you speak to her that way?! Have some respect!” So it actually ended up being a rather endearing experience. I’m constantly harassed in New York, always in front of plenty of people, and no one has ever come to my defense here. Not that I can’t fight my own battles, but the acknowledgment of others who witness it that it is not okay would be nice. (What a cruel joke it is that I pay SO much more money to live here than other places and I’m not even treated like a human being when I walk around the city.)
Sorry for venting all of this to you completely unsolicited. I just really hope you know how important this is to so many of us. If you ever have those days that are frustrating or hopeless, we appreciate what you do so much.
I’ve been scared to drive ever since I was little. So when I announced at the beginning of the spring of 2011 that I was going to get my driver’s license, my friends and family were in disbelief. Imagine their surprise a few months later when at the wonderful age of 23 I proudly showed off my official license.
The first time I drove with my older sister in the car, I pulled up to a stop light next to a black SUV. An ordinary enough occurrence, but when I looked over and saw four boys leaning out of the SUV and making jack-off and cunnilingus gestures at us. I was absolutely stunned at their lack of respect. So stunned in fact, that I unknowingly switched lanes once the light turned green and cut off the person in the red car behind the black SUV full of jerks. The boys in the SUV pointed and laughed out of their windows as the guy in the red car honked mercilessly at me. My sister started screaming at me, saying that she shouldn’t have let me drive. I told her about how stunned I was with the guys making rude gestures at me, and her only response was:
“You’re going to have to get used to it. Guys do that to cute girls.”
I drove the rest of the trip in silence. I don’t want to ‘get used to it’ and I don’t think it’s fair that women have to add one more thing to worry about on the road.
To help build a world where Sara doesn’t have to “get used to it,” donate here to support our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign.
A guy in a white car: The ubiquitous ‘hey baby,’ something else I couldn’t make out, a jacking off gesture.
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This happened a long time ago. I grew up in a pretty, quiet middle-class neighborhood in the middle of the Bible belt. My mom was always watchful. My best friend and I rarely played in our front yard, but this one day we took our dolls out front like this once in our whole childhood. Usually my mom wouldn’t let us play alone out front. A jeep drove up with a slightly built youngish white guy who asked us if we’d seen his puppy, and if we wanted to go help him find it. We were terrified and right away ran into the house. But DEAR GOD!!!! He could have put his car in park and thrown one of us into the back seat, but luckily, he sped off. We never saw him again. That’s one brush with a rapist that I hope I never have again.
The second creepy incident happened at a park with my mom. My mom was walking the track around the small park as me and the same friend played. This was a very hot summer day. We noticed a guy get out of his car, and smoke. He stared at us intently and he was wearing a thick black coat, and black boots. And it was hot outside. He smoked a few cigarettes. He had dark sunglasses on. He watched us. My mom noticed and decided to sit in her car, which was next to hers, and she started it. He had no children with him. He left as soon as my mom got in her car. He left.
Third story. And these are all true, and luckily for us end happily. This SAME friend and I were at her house and went to a park. Alone. Her mom let us go. Stupid, don’t let your kids go to parks alone. These boys that were 12 or so said really gross sexual things to us, but never attacked us physically. We escaped, mostly unscathed.
I just don’t get it. Why are there so many creepy, evil and sick men out there???????? WHAT THE FUCK? It’s so sad. It makes me so angry. So women let’s get angry, fight back and shame the assholes!!!
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