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I’m in my early 20s and a student at a community college. It was late in the evening a month or so ago, and I was on campus walking to class and passed by a group of young men who were talking and joking around with each other. As I proceeded to walk one of them started to loudly make comments like “Hey, you. Can I get your number?” I knew he was talking to me, but I ignored him hoping that wasn’t the case.
I realized that the group was now walking behind me, and I didn’t know what to do. I had never been harassed in public before. I ignored them and kept walking, not indicating that I had heard them at all, but they continued to follow me saying, “Hey, I like girls with square backpacks.” That one almost made me laugh at how ridiculous it was before he said, “Hey, you in the green shirt, I’m talking to you.” I started to get really afraid that they’d try to follow me into the parking structure that I usually cut through and began to walk faster, taking an alternate route where there were more people. Eventually I stopped hearing them behind me. The whole time I could hear the guy laughing with his friends.
A couple of weeks afterwards I was waiting for the city bus and a guy looking to be in his fifties came up to me to ask me what time the bus usually came. I answered him and he walked away. He ended up getting on my bus, and sat a few seats away. As we got closer to campus, he switched seats to sit closer to me, and after asking if I was on my way to school, to which I replied yes, he out of nowhere turned and asked me, “Hey, do you want to go out with me?” I was startled, but I calmly and clearly replied, “No.” He then asked if I was over eighteen to which I replied, without thinking, yes. He continued to try to convince me, asking if I was sure because he had “a Starbucks gift card.” I again replied no. I didn’t feel threatened at the time, just because it seemed so random and he didn’t act upset or threatening; I just thought he was weird/creepy.
However, the next week as I was boarding the bus to go home, I heard someone say hi to me. I began to say hello before I realized it was the same guy. I immediately went to a seat far away from him, but as soon as I sat down he got up and took the seat behind me. It scared me that I couldn’t see him. I immediately took out my phone and dialed the first person I thought would answer. I was really freaked out and didn’t want him to try and talk to me. I talked on the phone about anything I could think of for the entire trip. After I got off, I kept looking behind me, afraid he’d follow me. When I told my sister she told me I should just take one of the metro buses instead, but I was reluctant because the city bus drops me off much closer to home, and I thought that surely he couldn’t be on the bus at all times of the day, as I had never seen him prior to this and I had been taking that bus for years.
Even so, I took the metro bus for a few days, before the weather turned especially warm and I decided to try the city bus one more time. The bus was unusually full, and I took a seat in the front where there were no available seats around me, I thought I was in the clear before the same creep came up beside me in the aisle and presented me with a flower asking me if I wanted it. I said no, and he asked again, I again said no. He left, and I got off early at one of the busier bus stops afraid he’d try to bother me off the bus. That was over a month ago and I haven’t taken that bus since.
Before these incidents I had heard about street harassment and recognized it as an issue, but I had never experienced it myself. I wasn’t prepared for how afraid and insecure it made me feel, I wish I would have said something at the time, but I don’t know if it would have mattered. I feel like it was so obvious both guys were bothering me, and in the second case it freaked me out even more that he didn’t seem to take my answer at face value. It made me afraid that he didn’t seem to have a clear sense of what the word “no” meant. I mean I repeatedly rejected him with my words and body language. Why should I have to bluntly and loudly confront him? Ugh, it happened weeks ago and I’m still thinking I should have told him off.
It was a balmy summer evening, and I was walking home from the subway along Flatbush Avenue. Just ahead of me was a girl in her early twenties in a pair of shorts. Men started hooting, and one of them began following her down the street and aggressively asking for her number, her name, and a date. She kept walking, and he kept following. I came up next to her and asked if she’d like a walk home. She quickly said yes, and I slid my arm into her’s and we walked together. The hooting kept up, but the stalking stopped. After a block I asked if she was ok, and she smiled and said yes.
As upset as I was (and still am), it feels good to be able to do something.
A couple of months ago, I posted a success story on here regarding harassment near my workplace. I’ve been reading everyone’s stories since, and sadly there are so few where the victims are able to feel powerful after an incident.
I’ve decided to make it a point to share any successful experiences that I have, to hopefully inspire others to keep going, speak up, and take action. I believe that we can make a world of difference together. We really can.
The most recent experience occurred yesterday. This one was pretty hilarious. I was jogging down a main street in Hayward, California. At one point, I was running on a slight incline, enjoying the focus and pace. I heard a bicycle approaching in the street, alongside the sidewalk where I was. I always look when I hear a bike, to make sure the person is paying attention, not attempting to assault me, etc.
When I looked at the rider, he looked back at me in acknowledgement. Then he looked back again. And again. At that point, I asked, “What?” Not in a confrontational way, but as if you had spinach in your teeth and someone continued to stare. The dialogue was as follows:
Me: “I don’t know, man. You’re making me uncomfortable right now.”
Him: *laughs* “What?”
Me: “Wow, this is really awkward, the way you’re looking at me.”
Him: “I’m just looking at you, looking to see who you are. This is how I look at all the girls!”
Me: “You know I’m only 16, right?”
Him: *pauses and looks back in a double-take* “…Woooow. Woo, oh boy! Oh…” *throws both hands up and starts riding away with increasing speed*
Me: *laughing* “Yeah that’s right, buddy, you just keep on riding!”
He hauled ass out of there like you wouldn’t believe. I wish I had recorded his reaction, or even taken a picture. One of the best ones I’ve seen. I could still hear him in the distance as he was riding away, shaking his head and “woo!”-ing in fear of being caught for his predatory actions. He didn’t look back at me once after that!
I had so much positive energy after the incident, that I was able to jog home in half the time it would normally take me. I went home smiling, laughing, in good spirits. Because I took the power back in the situation.
The funny thing is, I’m actually 25. I mean, I’ll take the compliment, but when a grown man refers to all human females as “girls” regardless of age, I automatically get the vibe that they’re a predator. It’s offensive and insulting to women, but in this instance, I used it to my advantage. I dared to be a woman who stepped outside of her house without a man next to her, and I walked away with the power.
It was a beautiful sunny day in my beach town of Isla Vista, CA, and I decided to go tanning with my boyfriend at Sands Beach, which is a decent walk from our apartment and not actually a part of the town. The beach was nearly deserted, so we walked up into one of the secluded sand dunes to go tanning as we usually do. I took my top off because I hate tan lines and there were hardly any people in sight; also it is impossible for anyone walking on the beach to see what is happening up in the dunes.
After an hour or so of peacefully lying there, my boyfriend looked up to see a scary looking man in his 40s crouching in a bush in a nearby dune and taking pictures of me. He immediately sprung up and chased after the creep, who ran away but was finally caught up to. He claimed to be the neighborhood watch (there is no such thing in Isla Vista) and said he was taking pictures to collect “evidence” of my apparent crime of being topless (a common occurrence at Sands Beach) and when my boyfriend demanded he delete the pictures, the guy made hollow threats to call the cops, tried to run away, threatened my boyfriend, etc.
Finally, my boyfriend had intimidated this sicko enough to convince him to delete the pictures off the camera while he watched, so luckily I don’t have to worry about them showing up anywhere. This occurrence is especially unsettling to me after the tragic events that happened here last weekend, and as a women especially, I have never felt less safe in Isla Vista. I hope things get better here soon.
A group of men were on the stoop, drinking and hanging out. I walked past them around 9 PM at night (after dark) after parking my car nearby.
Several men started hooting and making kissing noises. I kept my eyes forward and ignored them. Then one man started following me saying, “Can I talk to you” and “Just give me a minute baby.” I hoped he would stop following me at the end of the block, but he didn’t.
I turned the corner and continued to walk towards my apartment, feeling increasingly scared. The man followed close behind me for two blocks saying things until he finally gave up and went back to his friends.
I thought I was going to be raped.
I was walking my dog at approximately 11:36 am on a Thursday. A man in his mid twenties approached in a red sedan and whistled quite obnoxiously. It frightened my dog and startled me. I proceeded walking on my route and from another street I could see him circling. He passed me three times. I eventually picked up my dog and ran home.
I walk 2.5 miles home from work almost everyday and there is a man in a white, unmarked work van who passes me each day, driving in either direction. He has yelled everything from “Nice ASS!” “Check out them TITS!” to “Hey I’m talking to you bitch!” Since he passes around the same time everyday, and has been seen driving in both directions, I have reason to believe he drives up and down that section of road looking for me. I have no other route to take home.
A man, late 50s about 5’7″ heavy set, started to verbally harass and follow my friend and I on pacific avenue. He was yelling out rude comments about our clothes while “praising The Lord” for our legs. The wind blew my skirt up and he started whooping and hollering like a child. It was a 95 degree day and of course I was wearing a dress. He followed us from in front of the Del Mar theater to the corner of Taco Bell and we retreated to Saturns Cafe for safety.
I am an employee of a school district, and I frequently travel between all the schools in the district. One day, I was driving from the high school to an elementary school in a residential neighborhood. It was warm, so my windows were down. As I drove past an older man (probably in his 50s), hey shouted “Hey”. I ignored him and kept driving. He started to chase after my car until I stopped at a stop sign a few feet ahead of him. He started to scream “Hey bitch, who the hell do you think you are ignoring me? I just wanted to tell you that you’re hot”. I immediately put up my windows and continued driving to the school. I ran inside, just in case he saw where I parked (the elementary school was visible from where this took place). I also haven’t driven in that area with my windows down since, and I get very nervous traveling to that particular elementary school now, where as before I didn’t.
I don’t have a single story. I have tons of stories. Growing up I learned not to take walks, to never acknowledge people, and pretend to talk on the phone (with 911 already dialed).
I began riding a bike for exercise, as I receive less comments and gestures, although they still happen.
The most recent was when a car came up right alongside me, a man leaned out and seemed to try and grab me while yelling “HEY B****!!!” I wasn’t sure what to do, so I kept going and thankfully another car came up, so he had to go back in his lane.
I’ve had people make offers for me to sell my body, as if I were on auction. I’ve had people call me names, whistle, etc. In one walk I could have four incidents. I stopped walking to church, because it got too uncomfortable and someone would follow me consistently.
When I go out with my male friend, it is so NICE not to have the comments or be on guard as much. I was shocked the first time walking around the city with him how NO ONE tired anything. It makes me want to have an escort all the time. Which is extremely sad.
I’ve become to expect the harassment, and am pleasantly surprised when I don’t receive any. However, most of the time I get at least some. I don’t even bring up all the incidents to people, cause I know they will think they aren’t a big deal, but they ARE a big deal.
I wish I knew of a SAFE way of telling the jerks that it is NOT okay. However, I try not to engage, because I don’t want it to escalate.