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I’ve only had two particularly bad instances of street harassment. There was one time I was walking to the charity shop I worked at at the weekend (bear in mind this was at around 9 in the morning) and one man who looked about 50 got all up in my personal space and said “hey sexy what’s your name” – I ignored him and tried to get past him but he kept blocking my way and leering at me. When I eventually got past he grabbed my arm and pulled me back to him so I had to physically shove him off me, which he responded to by hurling slurs and derogatory comments at me and spitting as I speed walked as fast as I could away from him. There was also another instance where I was doing this crappy minimum wage morning job handing out flyers for a pasta place in town and as I was working these two men decided that it would be an appropriate time for them to try it on with me. Again, they both looked old enough to be my dad. They said things like “hey gorgeous is your number on this flyer?” and “you’re too pretty to be doing this – you should be modelling” but when I ignored them and kept working they switched to more sexually explicit comments about my body and what they’d like to do to it, and they started trying to touch my face and my bum. When I told them to get the f away from me I got in trouble with my manager for being rude to potential customers. I actually quit that job because of the amount of harassment I received. Both times were in broad daylight on busy streets and I was under 18.
I was sitting in the lobby of the hospital, waiting for my job required screening. There was one other person in the room with me. A middle aged man sat across from me. We had not engaged in eye contact or conversation. I looked up from my phone to see him pointing the camera of HIS phone directly at me. I stared at him in defiance hoping the fact that I caught him red handed would deter him from actually taking my picture. Unmoved in the slightest, I heard the shutter sound. I was in shock. He proceeded to pretend to take photos of the chairs directly to my right, fiddling with them as he took them. I stealthily took a picture of HIM and posted this exchange on my Facebook wall. I remained silent and waited till I was called by the doctor to call this man on his violation. As I passed him I spoke quietly, “I truly hope, that I am NOT in ANY of those pictures you were taking earlier.”
He replied, “Oh no you are not”
I emphasized my displeasure, “I better not be.” And followed the doctor back. I alerted the nurse who attended me of the incident.
The man was called back shortly after I was called. This is his picture.
I was 12 years old when I was sexually harassed for the first time. It was at a public event. I was seated in an auditorium and couldn’t get away. The incident involved verbal comments and touching. The harasser ignored my requests to stop. When I spoke up about what happened I was reminded that I was thin, had blonde hair and blue eyes so I should probably get used to it as “boys will be boys”.
These sorts of incidents have played out time and time again throughout my life. These days I wear a few extra pounds that I have come to realize are for self-protection. I’ve learned that if I dare to lose a few pounds and dress nicely, the harassment will begin again.
I also understand why men feel under attack by this campaign. I don’t believe most men engage in this sort of behavior. At the same time we need men on our side to help send the message that this sort of behavior is not funny or harmless and is certainly not “a compliment”.
I work behind a bar so take your pick! Last night a couple of lads shouting ‘stop staring at her arse’ to each other so I could hear as I was taking lights down from the ceiling….then the obligatory ‘bye gorgeous’ and sleazy wink as they left…. An older man at the bar holding onto my hand for what felt like forever while repeatedly telling me how beautiful I am and that it’s nice ‘to have something to look at’ for a change….
I was standing at a crossing waiting to cross the road when a guy turned around and said “Nice!” to me, and then took a photo of me on his phone and walked off.
One morning on my way to work, I got on the bus and was the only person on besides the bus driver when a man gets on and sits directly in front of me in the back of the bus. Although I had my headphones on I could hear the man trying to get my attention and motioning towards me so that I could give him my full attention. Thinking I should probably be cautious, I moved my seat and sat directly in front of the bus driver under the impression that if anything were to happen the bus driver would protect me or at least ask the man to get off the bus. This was not the case though. The man followed me to the front of the bus and began to yell at me and laugh maniacal. At this point I was terrified, yet the bus driver still did NOTHING. My stop finally came and I attempted to walk towards the exit, only to have this strange man attempt to follow me off the bus. I then took a step back looking at the bus driver with no prevail, but the man then sat back down and I got off the bus only to have the man get off on the next stop. Thankfully it was as though God was on my side and it began to rain very hard and the man ran opposite to the direction I was in. This experience has left me completely traumatized and in the realization that I am not protected in the streets and not even on public transportation, which I have to take every single day.
I’m not terribly attractive compared to a lot of other girls I know. Plus I wear baggy hoodies, jeans and my hair’s naturally messy. Even so, I did experience street harassment twice in the past. What happened recently took the cake; even if it wasn’t on the street, where it happened was as public as a street was.
I was at the library, buried in a book. All of a sudden, a guy just sat down on the other end of the couch and said hi. I gave a nod, politely said hi and turned back to the book. The guy looked to be in his 50’s or 60’s. When he started rambling, I nodded and replied with the occasional “mhm” because I was taught to respect your elders.
I began to notice he was slowly sliding over to me. And his eyes were looking everywhere else on my body BUT my eyes. Some of the language he was using made me feel uncomfortable and the stranger began asking me very personal questions.
I made up a quick act about how I’m running late to meet my friend, got up and hustled down the stairs. A moment later, while scanning the bookshelves, I noticed the same guy following me. Panicking, I fast-walked through the library to the girls bathroom. I stayed in there for a few minutes and when I asked another woman to see if the guy was still out there, he was.
Lucky for me, the bathroom had two doors. I used the other exit and ran down the hall to the elevator. I was back upstairs where I could hide out in one of the secluded areas and spy on the first floor through a special window.
It took an hour before that guy left the library. Entire time, he was looking around the first floor.
The library has always been my sanctuary to escape from stress and to relax for awhile. But that creep ruined the library for me. I can’t go back there cause he could return and the librarians won’t do anything about it. The library may not be the street. However it’s still a public place and women do have the right to be in public without harassment.
I was sixteen years old and my father sent me into Target to pick up a few things. While shopping I was followed around by a much older man. He would smile at me and he came up to me about three times asking me for my phone number. I tried to ignore him but he got more aggresive when I did. I told a store employee and was informed there was nothing they could do for me. But the part that upset me the most was when I told my father what happened and that I didn’t want to go into places by myself anymore, he informed me that this is just what happens when your pretty and that I just needed to ignore them and deal with the comments.
This is only the most recent story of harassment in my life. It’s not the worst either, not even the worst this month.
I didn’t have enough money to get out of the bus station. My husband had already gone through the barrier and was waiting for me on the other side. I go to pay at one of the atm like stations. While I’m standing there 2 men come up behind me, too close, and I ask them to back up. Instead they get in my face and says he isn’t doing anything, it escalates too fast. I’m terrified, I let my guard down because I was out with my husband so I didn’t have any pepper spray at the ready. I start freaking out and my husband rushes around the corner and starts screaming at these guys to back off. They don’t back off, they say they’re gonna hurt us. I really don’t want to say what my husband did next, but it was pretty obvious that he was going to kill these guys if he had to. I finally start thinking straight & run to jump the barrier and we ran for blocks.
There are too many, sadly, to report here but I’ll relay few of them: There was one good ol’ boy who was somehow in LA and when I walked by said “Mmmmmm, I’d LOVE to have you between my sheets!” One old man asked me “Would you be willing to model nude for me?” An elderly man was walking toward me on the sidewalk and when I smiled respectfully at the old fella, he leered back with “Mamacita!” (I do not dress provocatively.)
As has been mentioned before, I have often experienced first hand that a man can go from hitting on you to insulting you within seconds if you don’t play his game. It is frightening.
The stupidest comment was one time I had cut my hand badly on a broken glass while washing dishes. I was waiting outside on the sidewalk for a friend to come drive me to the hospital; the towel around my hand was growing increasingly heavier with blood. Two young guys walked by me and one of them said pseudo-suavely “Hello, beautiful”. When I looked away, painfully cradling my gushing hand, he lashed back with “Beauty is as beauty does” with a harsh tone despite the corny cliche. A woman can’t even be injured in peace!!!
Then there’s the bus driver who wouldn’t let me out of the bus until I gave him a kiss. It was bad enough but thank Heaven, not as bad as that could’ve been.