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It’s a shame that in this day and age, taking the bus can be a bit of a scary experience. I was on my way from work and had to wait for a while at a connecting stop. A man who I noticed was on the bus earlier had walked over to my stop and sat at the bench with me. He kept his distance but I just tend to stare face forward with my mp3 player on and my phone in my pocket. Eventually he says hello. I say hello back but continue to look forward. Minutes pass and he tells me his name. Noticing he’s waiting for a response I just tell him my name is ‘Marie’. It’s not real, it was just the first random name that came to mind. It got even more uncomfortable when he would periodically ask where’s the computer lab, do I go to school here, and so on. It got worse when another bus showed up but he decided to wait for MY bus to get here. He said, “I WAS going to get on this bus, but do you mind if I get on the same bus as you?” I didn’t answer so he took it upon himself to do so. I should have just walked into one of the university buildings ages ago, but I just wanted to go home. Eventually my bus gets here and I sit near the front so I could be by the driver and he sits towards the back. He later comes to a seat just behind me and asks if I had a place for him to stay during the night and gave him a firmly toned NO. He went back to his seat but it didn’t stop me from getting off my stop and looking around to make sure he didn’t follow me. The walk home was so scary because the apartment complex I’m at seems to have no interest in getting the street lamps fixed and the entire walk was me rushed in a zig zag pattern with my hand on the number 9 on my phone. Later when my boyfriend came back, we went out to get some pepper spray and so far, I will wait for him to give me a ride, even if I have to wait for hours.
Reading the rest of these entries makes me feel more empowered, but there needs to be more! I want to do my part for this website and tell my friends about it. I also think it would be a wonderful idea to have this for all universities and public transportation systems. Thanks.
Submitted by Menia
While walking to my car this morning a man who was driving slowed down his vehicle just to make “smooching” sounds to me. I gave him a disgusted look and got in my car. I sat in my car for a moment, and then realized that the man had driven back around and was sitting in his car, stopping traffic to stare at me. I was very scared because I was trapped between two cars, and him, and had no way of driving away. He eventually left, but it was not the best way to start my day.
Submitted by Desiree
This is a constant occurrence on the A train at the Rockaway Boulevard Train Station in Ozone Park Queens (At least for me). I enter the station and head for the Manhattan-bound A train side of the platform. My entrance is the one at the front of the train and I usually walk to the middle area of the platform and wait for the train. This morning, reminiscent of many others, there was a man already waiting for the train on the platform close to the top of the stairs.
I passed him on my way to my waiting area. When I got to where I usually wait, he was right behind me, casually reading his paper. I felt awkward and walked down to the area about ¾ of the way to the end of the platform. When I turned around to check, the man had followed me down and was half a car-length away from me. The train started pulling into the station, so I walked down the platform some more to make sure there was a car and half between me and him.
I got on thinking he would be in the other car that pulled up right in front of him, but then saw him getting into the same car, one door away from me. So I sat in the seat facing the back of the train, with my back toward the door he was standing at. Two stops later, he moves to the door that my seat is facing and is casually reading the paper and stealing glances at me.
At this point, I’m disgusted because he’s not the first guy that’s followed me down the platform, but was definitely the first to follow me all the way down, into the car I was in, and into my face. That’s when I took the first picture of the creep. He spent the whole ride (from Rockaway Boulevard to Fulton Street) creeping me out with his looks. I was sure he was waiting for me to get up and follow me off the train. He stopped reading his newspaper after Jay Street and was just staring at me the rest of the way.
I was pretending to doze off as I waited for the train to let a bit more of the crowd off at Fulton Street. At Fulton Street, I had had it with the creep staring me down. He had no intention to get off while the crowd was unloading so I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of him with the flash on. The crowd around me looked confused but didn’t question my extremely disgruntled face as I took the picture of him. The shot shows the guilt on his face and surprise that I would actually take his picture. He disappeared into the crowd (or ran off right before the doors closed) right after my picture.
If there’s anything that gets me upset, it’s disrespectful creeps on the train. Don’t follow me, ESPECIALLY at 8:30AM when I’m half asleep. Had I been awake, I would have caused a stir on the train. Though I think my quiet decision to shame him with a flash photo in front of a crowd worked too. He wasn’t there to follow me off the train. I don’t appreciate creeps pretending to casually stand around after they follow me.
Even if this post doesn’t cause the creep to get arrested, at least I feel better that I made him nervous by taking his picture. It would be really nice to not be followed by douchebags.
Submitted by Maria
One day while I was running errands I came across a group of men who were hanging out in front of a barber shop. All I heard was “drug store, blondie” and they followed me for five blocks harassing and stalking me until I lead them the wrong way. After that experience I don’t go often near that block.
Submitted by Samantha
I was walking home from [law] school last night around 10:20 p.m. My walk is only about 15 minutes, from Tribeca to the Financial District, and I normally walk very rapidly.
I’m always aware of my surroundings, especially at night, and am careful to remain in well-lit areas where other people are as well. As I was walking down Broadway, I noticed 2 boys in front of me. One was on a razr-type scooter, the other one (orange polo) was just walking.
Eventually I passed them, and as I did, the one of the scooter, who had been going around in a circle said, “Hey gorgeous.” I ignored him and walked faster. After about 30 seconds I could hear both of them behind me, and they were beginning to keep pace with me. They followed me all the way down Broadway, to Fulton Street. Along the way, they were muttering things to each other like “Yeah, she does have a nice ass though.” I probably behaved pretty stupidly, but I thought because there were people all around me, that these guys would give up and leave eventually. They seemed younger and weren’t overly intimidating. I pulled my phone out and had 911 ready-dialed in case it escalated too quickly. They continued to follow me down Fulton Street, but eventually the guy on the scooter pulled back. The second guy was still keeping stride, though, and as I neared a cross street, I heard the scooter guy yell, “Now, Man (Max, Mac?)” and the guy in the orange polo said “Now?,” began running past me, and grabbed my ass. He then slowed, stood at the next corner, and watched me pass. I felt so violated and completely degraded. I took a picture of him with my camera phone as I walked by him, because it\’s all I could think to do, but it came out very blurry.
I’m so glad this site exists, so people can share there experiences and realise they’re not the only ones – well done guys!!! I’ve had many unfortunately, but I will just mention a few. My city has no official blog yet.
As a introverted and shy teenager, I was carrying 2 heavy bags of shopping (and looking pretty rough, old jean and sweatshirt) in, A circle of at least 10 drunk guys surrounded me, blocking me and not letting me walk off. They were wearing novelty costumes (a stag night, maybe). I felt so intimidated that a froze. The “ring leader” came forward, and said, “we won’t let you go until you give us all a kiss”. I was still frozen. He started to move his face closer to mine, it was so disgusting. I squeaked, “I have a boyfriend” (I didn’t) and pushed past them. And they were all laughing, I felt so humiliated and sick for the rest of the evening.
Not too long after that, another woman I didn’t know and I were walking down a narrow street with scaffolding in the pouring rain and wolf whistles started from the builders. We both turned around and one went “No, not you, you train wreck” I don’t know which of us the attention was aimed at, but again this made my day just a little worse.
Another time drunk guy in club maneuvered me into a corner and wouldn’t let me go until I gave him my (fake) number.
To top this off, I went abroad to a certain foreign country (religiously conservative and by some standards 3rd world) for study reasons, where street harassment is the norm. In fact sexual responsibility and “sin” falls almost entirely on the women’s side. Women are belittled, some are not allowed out on their own, and stared at constantly even if they are dressed extremely modestly (as I was). Some women particularly of minority ethnic origins, have stones thrown at them (I think since I was taller than most of the men, they didn’t dare with me). Also if a man is staring at you, they won’t stop staring even if you make eye contact – they think they have the right. They would talk to me, even though it is meant to be unacceptable to talk to women they do not know.
Yes, I was aware of this behavior before I went, I am aware it is a different culture and values and I am a guest in their country etc etc but it still made me feel sick and it doesn’t make it right – I talked to many women who lived there and they all hated the harassment too, but they felt powerless about it. I felt under siege. Another sent flowers to my school and tried to negotiate with the school principal to marry me. Urghh. At a tourist festival, all the local men were photographing US, western women, more than we were photographing the festival itself. The one time that was almost funny was when I was visiting a local landmark and a rich looking man started filming us even though he was with his family! Then his wife saw and smacked him hard across the head and a torrent of verbal abuse was aimed at him by the women. Hah! That showed him!
It got more serious though. There was one incident where I felt my life was genuinely threatened, when I was stranded due to circumstances beyond my control. A man I didn’t know (whose unwanted attentions and sexual threats I had rejected) accelerated his taxi at me, almost running me down while I was alone on a dark night and deliberately intimidating me, then drove off in the night. In that moment my brain flashed to the attacks that’s had happened in South Africa, where a gang ran women down with cars to disable and rape them. I was so scared and numb. I stood for 10 minutes in the dark in the pouring rain, waiting to get in through the gate to my house (gatekeeper was in the toilet), all the time thinking he was coming back. The feral (and sometimes rabid) dogs prowling about added a nice atmospheric touch.
After 2 months of this, the effect on me, in addition to my other experiences, was profound. I’m sorry if this sounds cliche but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel tears pricking at my eyes as I typed the previous paragraph. Since I’ve returned home I’m very sensitive to street harassment.
When I go out, I tend to wear hoodies and jeans, and don’t call attention to myself. I walk tall and confident and with purpose, but I don’t feel that way, even though I’m 5’7 and reasonably attractive. I keep my face blank, carry keys or perfume in my pockets (for defence if needs be) and my phone in other. I tend to be hyper-vigilant and I get really angry, mostly inside, at street harassment, particularly by drunks. My body language becomes very defensive even if a man is being respectful and friendly in showing interest in me, I blank them and turn my head away.
Even now in my mid twenties I feel vulnerable going out alone wearing skirts and dresses (although I will with a group of friends, rarely, in house parties or places I feel safe), even though I love girly dresses, especially retro ones. I want to go out and feel beautiful within myself and respected, and you know what, one day I want to meet the right guy, get married and be happy – but if keep acting this way I worry I’ll never get that close to a guy again. Its sad but I think I have had more negative contact from guys in my life than positive.
Things are getting a little better now, I feel happier and more confident than I have in years although the emotional distance is still there. I have travelled alone to many countries, made new friends, skydived, climbed mountains. If you met me in a social situation you would probably never guess any of it – I would come across a pretty, friendly girl, not a wallflower.
But I have to say this – Guys, please be considerate. Try not to be obnoxious assholes who stare and and yell and grope. I’m a nice, funny, person and although I try to be strong, I have a thin skin and these things still hurt me. And it has been these little incidents, the harassment which guys don’t even seem to think about, and which still happen to me occasionally, which make it worse.
Submitted by A.
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.