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I have been harassed lots of times but the time that sticks out the most happened a couple of months ago.
I was sitting at the bus stop waiting for my bus when I noticed a skinny man in his 30′s walking towards me. The entire time he was walking towards me he was staring at my legs. At this point I already felt suspicious of him, but chose to ignore him when he sat down next to me. For the next ten minutes, while waiting for the bus, he would alternatively stare at my face and then my legs. A couple times he even got up and walked around me, as if inspecting me from all angles. I was freaked out, but still felt a little unsure. When my bus came, I kept sitting and waited for the other passengers to get on first. I wanted to see if he was going to get on. When he didn’t move I was relieved and assumed it wasn’t his bus. However when I got up to get on the bus he immediately darted from his seat and followed me on the bus.
I went to the back of the bus (stupid me, should have stayed near the driver). He sat in the same row, but on the other side of the aisle. I put in my earphones and started listening to music. I kept feeling weird about him but chose to ignore him. About 20 minutes into the ride I suddenly hear the sound of a camera taking a picture. I glance over at him and lo and behold he has his phone pointed straight at me and has just taken a picture. Now, there is no way he took a picture of anything else other than me. There was nobody else in that section of the bus. There was nothing near me or in my vicinity which could possibly have been something interesting to take a picture of. And in order to take a picture of me he had to shift his body sideways, which he had done. If he had by mistake just clicked the picture taking thing when doing something else on his phone he wouldn’t have been turned towards me. I was fuming angry. FUMING. And grossed out and pissed and angry to no extent. And what I can’t forgive myself for is what I did next: nothing. I literally just sat there in my seat pissed off and creeped out but didn’t want to cause a scene. And there was that tiny nagging voice in my head that said maybe I was wrong, maybe I was just imagining things.
What happened next wasn’t my imagination. When I got up to get off the bus, he also got up. I strategically placed myself behind him so that he would have to step off the bus first. That way, he would have to “choose” which direction to start walking in. He chose right, which would have been the direction I would have had to walk to get home, but no way was I going to walk behind him. So I turned left. I went into a little shop a little ways off from where I could still see him. He was back at the bus stop. And looking at the bus schedule. So clearly, he had only gotten off because I was getting off. If he had gotten off because he lived there he wouldn’t have stayed at the bus stop. I waited until the next bus, going back to town, came. He got on. Then I went home, annoyed and frustrated. I don’t even want to imagine what he did with that picture he took of me.
Submitted by Sonja
Submitted by Elsa
A few months ago, I was riding my bike from my boyfriend’s house at the time in Bushwick, to my apartment in South Park Slope. We’d been packing up things in his place and it was during one of the first heat waves of the summer, so I was dripping with sweat by the time I finally climbed on my bike and headed back. It was still light out, as I won’t ride through that area at night by myself. I was pulling onto Franklin Avenue and noticed a black Cadillac SUV in front of me – all shiny and chrome and clearly not cheap. The street is wide, so I was able to pull ahead of it while it stopped for a red light and noticed two 30-ish men in the front seat. The light turned green and the SUV pulled in front. I then noticed the driver sticking his hand out of the window with a camera pointed at me. The flash flickered a few times in rapid succession while I tried to hide my face. The SUV hit another red light and I allowed my handlebars to scrape that beautiful, shiny chrome bumper while telling the drivers to “get f*cked.” The pair just laughed as I sprinted passed them and turned the corner.
Submitted by Erin
“Hey, baby,” he said, as I rode my bike down an idyllic block in Brooklyn on a hot July day. Of course, I ignored him. I dare assume that most women have heard this or something similar as they attempted to go about the mundane. For me, this was the 5th “Hey,:: insert something I don’t want anyone but my boyfriend or grandmother to call me::”, in only about ten minutes into my first bike ride of the summer. I swerved past him and around his car and continued on riding down the block, hoping that he understood the look on my face and my tensed body to mean that I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t enjoy being hit on, and I just wanted this to end.
Instead for him, he was turned on by my ignoring him and eventually peeved that I wasn’t responding. His comments, during the 3 block span of time that he FOLLOWED ME [I know he was following me because his car was poised to make a right, and instead upon my arrival and his lascivious comments, he decided to go straight. He later made a u-turn back to wherever else he was going,] ranged from, “Don’t you hear me talking to you, girl,” [don’t ever call me girl. I was now not only scared but pissed] to “Ride that bike like you need to ride my dick,” [I see you’ve mastered the English language, you fuck] to “I’m gonna make that ass fold over my face just like that,” [I hope you burn in a fiery single-car crash on your way home tonight, you asshole.] Increasingly violent and verbal, he had his bumper literally inches away from my tire. I considered slowing down, turning around and saying, “why are you doing this?” when images of old “Unsolved Mysteries” episodes flashed through my head— I didn’t want to be the girl who went missing because she was dumb enough righteous enough/smart enough/fearless enough to try to defend herself. Instead, I shut up and shoved my rising tears deep down inside of me along with the feeling that I needed to take a shower, bow my head, and hide in a corner of my dark room. I kept riding until I found a block that was person free and stopped, took out my phone and called my boyfriend.
There are few things in this world as demoralizing and frightening as sexual harassment. It’s a mental, emotional and often, a physical violation. I cannot name the amount of times that someone has grabbed my arm walking down a block, or felt up my sister’s ass “accidentally” on the train, or touched my best friend’s shoulder or hair. The worst and most common of these offenders, get confrontational when we say, “Stop.” Must be nice. Male privilege, that is.
I’m sick and tired of going to the gym/ /buying tampons and Midol/going to the doctor’s office/reading a book/bumping to my iPod and GETTING HIT ON HARRASSED. I’m tired of wearing my best dresses to parties and getting the expected uncalled for touches and comments but then going out in sweats, drool, and head wraps and still getting the “psssst” and the “yo.”
Men: Do you randomly approach, touch, and threaten other men? Do you say things like “I will loosen dat ass up” to other dudes? How does it make you feel to know that you scared someone so much that they had to stop on a corner and take a breather? I bet it feels really powerful. Do you gaze so hard at other men that it makes them feel like you can see through their flesh and bones into their souls? Do you get livid when other men ignore your “compliments’ on the street? Do you wonder why [insert generalizations: black women] always look “stank”? It’s probably because she just walked down a block and every fool between the ages of 12 and 92 said something [looks can talk, too] offensive. Probably not. If you have done these things to women, it’s because you’re a sexual harasser. A sexist. A predator. I beseech you:
LEAVE US ALONE.
When I’m on the treadmill at The Y – it’s not an invitation for you to tap my shoulders and chat me up. When I’m carrying groceries it’s not an invitation for you to make some sort of gross innuendo [they always find a way, don’t they?] These are not compliments and it isn’t chivalry and we aren’t stupid: they aren’t benign offers. Go ahead and call me a man- basher and a “feminist” [you know, implying that being a feminist is bad]. Go ahead and tell me to wear something else, or that I’m being overly sensitive, or that women need to learn to take a “compliment.” All I want is to be left alone to live and exist—and the issue isn’t with me, it’s with you [men]. I needn’t my female- bodiedness to be a scarlet letter. I just want to live and not think twice about whether my mini is too short, or if my hair frames my face too well, or if my jeans accentuate too well. I don’t want to weigh sides of the streets to determine which side I should cross to in order to avoid the most men. I don’t want to walk with my head down and my headphones blaring to protect myself from nonsense. I don’t want to judge all male-kind and be afraid for my future daughters, my mother, my 4 sisters, and my best friends. I do not need for a man to tell me to “smile” as I walk down the street with my only weapon in this war, my scowl. You have no rights to this body [also, you don’t know me.]
I just want to live and be treated with equality and respect. I want to be viewed as human—with emotions and purpose—rather than some lifeless museum exhibit for your petting and leering pleasure. I want to not feel threatened in my everyday life. I want to not think twice about my body or whether it’s my fault that I get catcalled. I’m happy that I live in a place where being a woman means I can work and have kids or do neither of those things, and that I can vote, and walk around [in theory] without a chaperone. But, I need to live in a world where I am not touched against my will, where I am not labeled a crazy bitch for complaining about inappropriate behavior, and where people see me as more than my ass and my breasts. I haven’t surveyed all the women in the world but I can say confidently that very few of “us” enjoy this kind of attention. So stop it. We are fed up.
To my girls: START SAYING SOMETHING.
I’m not going to blame us. We have strength and presence as victims but as with every other ill in the world, nothing gets changed with silence. The more often we ride our bikes off onto empty streets and call our boyfriends, the more often we pull down our skirts and tie sweaters around our waists, the more often we “laugh it off” when our bosses lean too close, the more often these people will do what they do because we’ve taught them that it’s okay. Silence is allowance. Your body is your own and no one has any physical, mental, or emotional rights to it. I refuse to remain silent. I refuse to feel dirty and used and ashamed because someone else doesn’t understand limits and because some male- bodied person takes advantage of, dismisses and underestimates the value of me being female- bodied. I refuse to be a second- class citizen in regards to race, economics, disability, and age but for far too long, I’ve done nothing about my second- class standing as a woman. This… this is my protest—the voice I didn’t have earlier today. This is the kick that, I hope for you, will be the catalyst.
We will be empowered and fearless. This stops today.
I appreciate a good compliment every now and again. “Sis, you are beautiful,” “I like your unique style,” “You have a nice smile.” I’m not a grinch and I’m not impossible. But I need for the invasion of the female form to cease and I need for the boundaries, respect, sensibility, and the humanity to be put in its place.
The stinker of today is that as I rode my bike on the sidewalk [instead of the street] to avoid the weirdoes in cars following me [there’s something about people saying threatening things in a stronger, faster vehicle that added a whole new layer to this experience] I was stopped by a googley- eyed, ambulated policeman who ticketed me for riding my bike on the sidewalk. No, my protests of “I’ve never done this before” [I really have never ridden a bike on the sidewalk before] did not get me out of a ticket. Nor did, “I was trying to avoid the men who were harassing me” work. The man had a job to do but if that doesn’t say something about society I don’t know what does.
Submitted by A.E.
Ugh… lately I’ve been getting harassed so much that it’s become really tiring. Every day for the past week or two I’ve had some pervert say something gross to me or do something creepy. I’m very independent and like to be on my own a lot, but since I’m a young (20) female, I feel like that makes me a prime target for harassment. To sum up the creepiest people:
About two weeks ago I was waiting for a train in a very corporate part of the city. I was standing near another girl, and then a very professional looking man came and stood between the two of us. I wrongly assumed he wouldn’t be creepy because of the way he was dressed. He started pacing back and forth between the two of us, and I also noticed him staring at me. When we got on the train he took a seat, and the girl and I stood across from each other in opposite doorways. He was VERY obviously looking at her and when she darted her head in his direction he quickly looked away. Then she went to a different part of the train, probably because he was freaking her out. Then he turned his attention to me. Okay, whatever, he’s looking at me. Creepy, but I can deal with it. BUT THEN he whipped out his phone and REALLY OBVIOUSLY took a picture of me. I got off at the next stop. Now this creepy asshole has a picture of me and probably jerked off to it. Ugh.
A few days ago I was at Columbus Circle sitting at the fountain. For awhile I noticed that this guy was sitting next to me, not doing anything in particular. But a lot of people were sitting at the fountain so I didn’t think much of it. I was on the phone with someone for a long time, and right when I hung up he tried to start a conversation with me but I could tell he was trying something so I got up and left. As I’m walking away, listening to my music, I notice the same guy walking behind me. He was walking behind me for a few minutes and I could tell he was looking at me… I couldn’t believe he was actually following me. He started asking me questions like my name and what I’m doing in the city. I know I shouldn’t have responded to him and should have just told him to fuck off, but I made up some bullshit and then when I quickly took an unexpected turn he finally left me alone.
Finally, today I was once again at Columbus Circle at the fountain (yeah, maybe I should just stop going there) taking pictures. This guy was trying to talk to me, saying things like “hey, hey girl. Hey, hey, hey!” But I just kept ignoring him and calmly walked away like I couldn’t hear him. As I was walking away though I saw the same guy following me. I thought maybe he just happened to be walking the same direction as me, but that definitely wasn’t the case. At first I wanted to just try to ignore him but I knew it wouldn’t work. He told me something like “Hey, I want to talk to you. You look really good.” I told him twice that I didn’t want to talk to him, but then he started describing the parts of me that looked good to him… gross. Then he asked me if I was single, and even when I said no he asked if I wanted to do something sexual with him (although he didn’t put it so conservatively). I didn’t show my rage because I didn’t want him to know he was affecting me. So I just calmly told him “nope” and he turned around and walked the opposite direction.
Submitted by A.
It happened a few years ago while I was in college. I was working as a waitress at a busy restaurant/bar in town and would usually get home around 1:30 am. One night I came home at the usual time, took a shower and went to bed. The next morning I find a business card stuck to my door from a local police officer asking me to contact him ASAP. I called the precinct, and he tells me that a man was arrested the night before for masturbating outside of my window. Apparently, some people at a party in the next building saw him from their balcony and called the police. I was listening to my iPod when I went to bed, so I never heard the cops knock on my door.
Incidentally, I always have my curtains closed, but apparently there was an opening at the bottom where they overlapped (about the size of a quarter, according to the cops who were at the scene), so he could see into my bedroom through this limited space. As the officer is telling me this, I realize that this man saw me completely naked after my shower the night before and watched me rub lotion all over myself, too, so apparently he got quite a show.
The officer tells me the guy’s name and asks if I know him. He says that the day before this “peeping” incident the man had been released from prison where he had been serving time for a sex crime. I don’t recognize the man’s name or description, but now I am panicking. This perv knows where I live, where I work (due to my waitress uniform), what kind of car I drive, and he can probably guess that at the end of the night I come home with an apron full of cash…plus he’s a convicted sex offender. I ask the officer if I can see the guy’s mug shot, to see if I recognize him from the restaurant, and so I will know who he is if I see him anywhere near me, and he says no, that he’s not allowed to show me a photo because it would be a violation of the guy’s rights! So this guy can look at my fully naked body without my knowledge or consent, but I can’t look at his face after he’s been arrested for peeping and wanking outside of my window. So glad that his rights weren’t violated!
I seriously feared for my safety after that. I felt so exposed, and not just because he had seen me naked, but because I felt that I was denied the option to protect myself. This guy was a convicted criminal with a history of sexually assaulting women! I hated not knowing if he was out there following me or watching me again– maybe I had even unknowingly waited on him? I never spent another night at that apartment and moved three weeks later. I also never heard back from the police about the case. When I called to follow up, I was told that the charges had been dropped due to a lack of “evidence”, meaning that he had not left a DNA sample at the scene. He had been interrupted by the police approaching and so he never finished, and apparently the statements from my neighbors weren’t proof enough of his crime. I hope with all my heart that I was the last woman he violated, but somehow I doubt it.
Submitted by Anne
Thanks for all the work you are doing in the city. I sent you a story a while back and wanted to relay another disgusting event to you.
I live in Queens and I was going home a little late getting on the 7 at Grand Central and this guy in a suit was like walking really close down the stairs behind me. So I stopped right at the bottom of the stairs where the train pulls up and he walked to my left like 20 feet away and I could tell the perv was staring at me. It took a long time for the train to get there and he was staring at me the whole time. So the train pulls up and all the sudden he is like RIGHT on my ass like pushing me in. I got in and there was a corner seat by the connecting door open so I sat there thinking he couldn’t rub up on me there. So he comes and stands right in front of me and is looking right down my top.
He was like 35, 6 feet, really good looking, wavy black hair with a wedding ring on. If you guys see him watch out. So I see that his hand is moving in his right pocket and he starts flicking his tongue at me. I was fuckin repulsed and like no one could even see him cause he had me in the corner. I am like 5’1″ and I was scared so I didn’t do anything but pretend he wasn’t there.
I could see his hard on and him rubbing it in his pants. He was like mumbling stuff too. I know one time he said o so u like that huh? It was so obvious. He was also like tapping my shoe with his foot like HEY look up at me jerking off and staring at you. My stop was 2 stops away but when the next stop came up I got up and got off. He purposely blocked me and groped my boob on the way out. I was scared and pissed too. This was on Monday and I havent seen him since. I cant wait to get the phone app you are putting out. I tried to get a pic but the train pulled away as I was trying to get his picture. You can share this story because I think it might help anyone else on that line at night.
Thanks for all your help.
Submitted by Krista
I have no picture, because this happened to me back in the nineties. I lived in Ecuador and the harrassment was an everpresent part of my life. So many things happened, and my policy was to be angry and let them have it. This one time, though, this little man was following behind me closely, muttering disgusting things. I yelled, I tried to act intimidating, but he would not stop. Then I noticed that we were alone-it was the middle of the day, and the businesses were closed. So I made a plan. I pretended to give up, and I walked a few blocks, with him muttering the whole way, always trying to get closer. I walked right to a walkway full of people, and when we were in the middle, I yelled “pervert, leave me alone!” at the top of my lungs. He froze, and I saw his eyes darting around in panic. Right before he ran off, he looked at me and I smirked.
Submitted by Ellen
Yesterday, I decided to wear a dress. The weather was beautiful and I was going to see Sandra Day O’Connor speak after work. Last night around 5:30 I was walking to the 175th St station on the A train when this man came up next to me and started walking along side me. I had my ipod on, but the volume was low enough that I could hear him saying that he thought I was beautiful and that he wanted to talk to me. I ignored him, tried to walk fast, but he kept along my side. When I realized I couldn’t walk faster, I stopped and let him keep going, getting a safe distance between us. However, when I got to the subway turnstiles, he was waiting for me. Again he told me I was beautiful and whatever and I yelled “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!” He called me a bitch and followed me on to the platform. I tried to stay close to groups of people and slowly sneak farther down the platform, but he kept following. When the train finally came, i ran down to another car, but he followed me again. As we approached 145th St, he walked down to where I was sitting and started staring at me. I had my cell phone out and started taking his picture. He saw me doing it, but didn’t try to hide. He exited the train at 145th, mumbling on his way out, and I finally felt relieved. Checked the photos I took and started taking notes of everything that happened.
I ran to the closest ticket booth when I got off the A at 42nd. I didn’t see the creep anywhere but I wanted to report what happened to the police. The station agent wasn’t helpful at first. She told me to wander around to find a police officer and didn’t make the call until I yelled that I wasn’t going anywhere until a police officer arrived. As I waited for the police, the creep came up to me. He was maybe 5 feet away, but he hid behind a column so the station agent couldn’t see him. He had taken off his t shirt and was just wearing a black tank top. Told me he was sorry, that he wanted to apologize, that he just wanted to talk to me but I was a bitch and an asshole and wouldn’t talk to him. He left after about a minute, and less than a minute later the police arrived.
Both officers were very good. They listened to me, they looked at the pictures, one of them did a sweep of the area, and when they couldn’t locate him they took me to their base and took my complaint. I made sure to mention to them that I am an attorney, so that may have had something to do with the excellent treatment I received. When they were done taking my statement, one of the officers escorted me to my transfer. I’m currently waiting for the detective to call. I’m really scared that I’m going to run into him again tonight.
On my way home last night, another man approached me in Times Square station. He said “Nice” as I walked past him and then he followed me to the platform. When he tried to talk to me and tell me he thought I was beautiful, I screamed and waved my arms and told him to get the fuck away. There were so many people and police around that he ran off. I didn’t make another complaint, but it scared the shit out of me.
I know that I’m not to blame. I’m proud that I had the wherewithall to remain calm, to take pictures, to make a complaint to the police. I know that I have the right to wear a modest, work appropriate dress and heels, and have my hair looking nice and wear lipstick and not be bothered by creeps. But today I dressed pretty frumpy and I don’t know if I’ll wear that dress again anytime soon.
It was a hot and sticky day and my best friend couldn’t get out of the house so I decided to go to her house and chill. I’m about a block away from her house when I notice a car driving alongside of me. I look over, and there is a man with sunglasses on flashing a huge smile. Now, I’m already on the defensive because his approach is so creepy. So now he has my attention.
I stopped walking and asked him why he was following me. He says “I just want to tell you how beautiful you are”. So I thank him for the compliment and resume walking. But he didn’t stop following me. He then asks me for my name. I didn’t answer. At this point I’m turning the block and I realize he is also. I start to speed walk because I am getting a little frightened and I don’t know what he is trying to pull. This is where it gets aggressive. The man puts his car in park, gets out of the car, and says loudly “I JUST WANTED TO KNOW YOUR NAME!”.
Submitted by Mahasiah