Running Encounters in Beechview – Part II
Saturday morning I decided to do a run in my neighborhood – Beechview. I left the house around 7am. Heading South on Broadway Avenue, a man (I would guess him in his 60s) gets off the “T” and is walking toward me. As I approach, he asks “How’s that concrete treat your knees?” I respond “they are fine.” As I pass, he turns and begins running with me, asking “Do you mind if I run with you a little while?” I look him up and down (he’s in street clothes, but is wearing some sort of New Balance type shoe) and slightly baffled say “Are you kidding me?” No, he says. “I’d rather you didn’t. This is my time.” Oh, okay, he says I will just follow you for a while. Then I hear his voice trailing off – have a nice day… As I’m heading North by the No. 28 Fire Station, I see a guy walking on the sidewalk and I move over into the street, as we pass, he says to me “Keep on runnin’, little girl.” “Why do you think it’s okay to say that to me?” I ask. “uhh, I was just trying to be encouraging” “It’s not okay”, I respond. I’ve continued running so I hear some unintelligible yelling and then very loudly “F*** YOU! F*** YOU!
So, in case you don’t understand what is wrong with this – a good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t say it to a male, don’t say it to a female (ESPECIALLY ONE YOU DON’T KNOW). I highly doubt either of those encounters would have happened if I was male.
I was only baffled by the old guy – Sir, I don’t know you, you are in street clothes and I’m trying to exercise. This isn’t social hour. A good morning is appropriate, but keep moving. The other guy, I would guess at 30s – 40s. What you said, could be interpreted as menacing – Keep on Running – like if you don’t I”m going to get you AND calling me a little girl is wrong on every conceivable level. Calling a grown woman whether you know her or not a little girl is sexist and demeaning. My husband was mortified that I spoke up to this second guy, but my argument is if we don’t speak up, how will anyone get the message? I can’t keep my head down and pretend like I didn’t hear it and I’m not going to fake smile at the guy awkwardly like “aw gee thanks”.
So glad to find out that an organization like Hollaback now exists. When I lived in New York, I was followed by men, got cat calls from men in cars and generally harassed on a daily basis. It never occurred to me at the time that it was a form of sexual harassment and in fact, could be dangerous. It is a form of power that some men use over single women. A woman walking alone is an easy target.
After awhile, it makes women afraid to be women. Just going to the grocery store becomes a drama filled occasion. It’s not even about dressing sexy. Women get harassed in just a t-shirt and jeans.
The worse would be when I was groped in a crowd. It’s hard because you really learn not to trust men. Then, you finally meet a good one, like my husband. I’ve always missed my time in New York, but now I remember how hard it can be.
It’s hard to be a single woman in New York. Harassment is never cool. hollaback!
A few years ago I was in a store in the feminine care aisle. There was a guy standing there in front of the brand of pads I wanted for a long time so I went to do my other shopping and then went back to get my pads that I was looking for. He was still there but in a different section of the aisle. I took my pads off the shelf and put them in my basket. As I was walking out of the aisle (which had one exit) he sort of blocked my path and asked if he could “ask some questions” I said no thanks and sort of shuffled to the side to walk around him and he blocked me again. So I said fine ask your question. He proceeded to ask me a series of increasingly personal questions about my love life which I tried not to answer. After about five minutes of this he aggressively asked for my number and I did the old “oh sorry I have a boyfriend” thing. Then he proceeded to give me this lecture about how I should dump my boyfriend for him and all this stuff about how manly he was. I continued telling him I wasn’t interested and eventually he let me out of the isle. I made my purchases and walked back to my dorm feeling quite uncomfortable and shaken up. About a week later I was at my job, the front desk of the building I lived in. And he showed up and kind if hung around the lobby. My next shift he was there and asked if I had dumped my boyfriend yet. He showed up a few times after that and I started asking my friend who lived in the building come pick me up from work (I work late) even though I only lived a few floors above. I was afraid he would corner me in the elevator or stairs or follow me to my room.
I live in one of my university dorms and was leaving for class in the middle of the day. Often, men, never women for some reason, hang around the corner by my building. Normally I don’t experience issues with the ones that are regularly there and have had some good conversations with them. One day there was a man I didn’t recognize standing at the corner. While I was waiting at the light he asked me if I had any change, which I did not as I rarely carry cash or change. When I said no he responded that it was ok, that my beautiful smile made up for it. Which was innocent enough and kind. As the light changed though he then remarked to his friend that “[he] would do [me]” and then commented to me that “[he] would f*** [me] given the chance.” I said nothing and crossed the street to get to my class and hoped that walking away would be enough to end the crude comments. Rather, he followed me for a couple of blocks until I reached my class. I was very glad he didn’t do anything but his remarks sent chills through my body and left me feeling very violated as he followed me to my class.
Well. It’s been a week ago, I started seeing this guy on the street. He kept staring at me until I went inside my house. He wouldn’t even leave his eye off me and my sis. We are teenagers. (13). But he looked like he was in his late 30s. For about 2 days he waited outside of my house and kept staring. I felt soo uncomfortable. Than the 3rd day he waved at me. I thought maybe he thinks I’m someone else. But the most scary part was that my mom was with me. And he still did it. But my mom didn’t noticed. Than again he waved at me and my sis. I wanted to tell mom but I was really scared bcuz I’m from a culture where my parents will think that it’s my fault. Than for another 2 days, he kept staring but I pretended like I don’t even know him and I didn’t even looked at him. Than this day my mom wasn’t with me. It was only me and my sis. So we were really scared. We decided to he late home so maybe he won’t be there. But he was there wondering around our house. So today when me and my sis were entering the house, he through a paper folded at us. I got soo angry and scared. I didn’t think golf anything and I yelled at him but not face to face. I was something like “why the fuck is wrong with you nigga. Leave us alone.” My voice sounded horrible due to nervousness. But that was the first time I ever yelled at a stranger and defended myself. It was like my brain was confidant but my stomach was nervous. I don’t know if he heard me or wht. I told my sis not to touch the letter but she wouldn’t listen to me and she read the letter. It said his phone number and said that ” call me cause I like you” my sis ripped the paper and threw it on the street. But I wish that he is scared and tommarow god protects me. It is mentally disturbing us. I couldn’t sleep these days due to him and I hate it. Plzzz for heaven sake, stop the street harassment.
I am 15 and had a school exchange to Italy. In the first couple days I was in Rome, taking in all the sites. I wanted to walk around by myself when we had time to ourself to shop. I walked quite a while away from where we were allowed to go and since I didn’t know the city well enough I got lost. I stopped at an information centre on one very busy street. The guy helping me said I was very beautiful and he wanted to kiss me and asked me where I live and how long I was in Italy for. I lied. But was very polite because I thought he might get angry and follow me. He even spoke to other people and gave them directions while he told me to wait. He wasn’t giving me directions to where I wanted to go so I said I was alright and began to leave then he gave me directions. He then nodded at someone behind me so I got scared and thought if I left someone would follow me. I left and was very scared, the path he showed me had some dark streets but I began to run when I saw the logo of his information place on the side of a van near me, afraid I ran into stores and asked strangers to show me the way. A very nice american group was going to the same place as me and have me directions. I was so unbelievably scared for my life and I was only 15. It was the worst experience and the way this man made me feel was horrible….
A few months ago I was followed and harassed by a man on the street. He verbally harassed me and did some very displeasing noises while he walked nearby. This went on for a few blocks and I kept telling him to stop, but he wouldn’t. The street was relatively lonely and I felt nervous and very angry. Some people on the street saw what was happening but did nothing; if anything, they looked away. When I finally got to a main road, I saw a policeman and decided to report what was happening. The policeman looked very confused and asked the man what was happening, to which he responded that he was just giving me a compliment. I told him that I had asked him to stop several times and that sexual harassment was a crime. The policeman kept doing nothing; he just asked for the man’s ID. I was feeling really angry and impotent, so I caught a bus to go home. When I looked outside the bus window, I saw the policeman letting my harasser go. I felt even worst than before, I was frustrated and a part of me felt that what I had done was wrong.
When I told my friends about wat happened they tried to be comprehensive but some of them made me feel like I had overreacted. They made me feel guilty and exaggerated.
A few days later I was walking on the same street (It was very near to my workplace), and I ran into the same man. He recognized me and started calling me names and saying “report me again bitch”. He insulted me from a distance and shouted really demeaning and hurtful things at me, such as “I will fuck you, whore”. I tried to defend myself but got really scared that he would hurt me physically, so I tried to walk away fast. Two men were going by while this happened and didn’t to anything, they just stood by and looked down, although this man was clearly threatening me. I told them that they could have done something to help me and they just ignored me. After this happened I felt really helpless, depressed, nervous, angry and scared. I cried all my way home, thinking that I should never have reported this man; If I had walked by and ignored him nothing would have happened. I knew, rationally, that I hadn´t done anything wrong, but I felt so guilty and foolish. For the next few days I felt terrified to walk to work and run into the man again. Still, sometimes when I walk through this area I try to make myself unnoticed and I feel really nervous. I know that I did the right thing, but I was silenced and now I look dow when I walk near there. And this makes me so angry. Public harassment is real, it happens almost daily, it is hurtful, and it needs to stop.
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 was biking home from work last night, way after dark. I had stopped at an intersection because a few cars were crossing. A man pulled up in his car next to me. I remember his car was an SUV with an Auburn University sticker on it. I could tell he was looking at me, and I thought he was saying something. I figured he was lost, so I asked if he needed help. He couldn’t find a certain road, he said, so I gave him directions, then pedaled off toward my house. I expected him to turn at the intersection behind me, because that was where I had told him he could get to the road he was looking for. Instead, he followed me. I was worried, but I thought he may have forgotten the directions, so I hoped he didn’t mean any harm. As I was riding down a hill, he pulled alongside me. “You want to make some extra money tonight?” he said. I was so freaked out that I replied, “No thanks!” If I had had the presence of mind, I would have told him to fuck off. I braked my bike, hoping his momentum would carry him past me, but he braked, too. We repeated these maneuvers several times. I remembered feeling guilty for wearing a tank top and shorts, riding my bike so late at night, but at the same time realizing that what was happening was not my fault. I was terrified that he was going to knock me off my bike and rape me. And I remember being furious that a man had the power to make me so afraid. I was about to reach my apartment, and I wasn’t about to show him where I lived, so I cut in front of him and pedaled down a dark street a block away from my apartment. Luckily, he didn’t follow. I pedaled for couple of blocks and finally stopped, hiding in the darkness under a tree, still so angry that I was hiding, fearing for my life in a supposedly free country. I called my roommate and kept her on the phone the whole ride home. I never saw him again. I knew I was lucky, but I didn’t want to have to call it lucky. “Lucky” isn’t being able to keep your rights, is it? At the time, it never occurred to me to call it harassment.
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.