Have you ever been catcalled, whistled at, groped, hugged, approached by a strange man, had your ass slapped or just had unwelcome comments. I have! From the time I hit puberty and ongoing. This is a common occurrence for me and I believe it has shaped the person I have become. I’ve received comments like more ounce for your bounce baby, nice body shame about the face, and does that skirt get shorter in the summer to mention a few! It has made me cautious and depressed. I hate walking down the street because I’m afraid of what comments might come out of people’s mouths. I’ve been stalked, followed, interrupted, and I hate it. I’m an overly tall woman so I often get looked at or gawked at and on more than one occasion I have even been asked to take pictures with. A few years back I worked for a Children and Youth centre and had to walk through a very unsafe area of Toronto. I again received a number of cat calls and whistles, and I don’t know what happened but I snapped. I turned around to the man who was cat calling me and I said that is not appropriate. I told him that I didn’t appreciate his verbal attack and could he refrain from doing it again. I think he was quite shocked by my response and he actually apologized. These types of activities are very damming especially for young girls. They encourage a type of inappropriate behaviour and I wish it would stop. It makes women like me, who generally are strong and professional feel demeaned and worth less than they are!
I’m an American and was walking down by the Seine River in Paris one night in 2010. A guy ran to catch up with me, and asked me a question in French. I turned my head to glance at him briefly, then immediately looked ahead again, without slowing down or stopping. When I looked at him, I quickly sized him up. His size was comparable to mine, and he was obviously drunk. I figured I could take him on if necessary, but if I needed a Plan B, there were groups of people around whom I figured I could run to for help.
Me: Je ne comprends pas le français. (I don’t understand French)
Him: (asked another question in French that I couldn’t understand)
Me: Je ne comprends pas.
Him: French (pause) kiss?
Me: (sternly) No.
He reached for my arm, and his hand brushed my elbow as I pulled it away and stopped walking, then threw my fist toward his face and stopped it just inches from his nose. Looking him dead in the eye, I told him slowly and sternly, “Get, the fuck, out of my, face.” He stood stunned for a few moments, looking at me as though I was crazy, then walked back in the direction from which he came.
In the four months I stayed in Paris, only one other guy followed me for a few blocks and tried to talk to me, but he wasn’t as annoying as that guy, nor did I feel threatened. Not like one guy in particular in Michigan…
I was working for a friend who owned a gas station. It was Saturday night, and I was all alone when a guy came in with his friend. This guy was very persistent asking me out, and I kept telling him I wasn’t interested. After several minutes, his friend finally told him, “She’s not interested. Let’s go,” and they left. Later that night, the guy came back by himself. I wasn’t behind the counter that time, and he was standing right next to me. He was much taller than I am, and I felt very intimidated. I kept telling him I wasn’t interested, trying to be polite but not too nice, but he kept asking me out. This whole time, I had my hand on my pepper spray, discreetly, ready to use it, but he was standing too close to use it safely, and was standing between me and the only way out of this small building. I was very nervous, and didn’t know what he was capable of doing. I finally lied and said, “Ok, meet me at (strip club 45 minutes away) tomorrow night. I’ll be working there.” He agreed, and started to leave. Once he reached the door and was far enough for me to use my pepper spray if needed, I said, “No, wait. I can’t let you go all the way out there. I won’t be there tomorrow night.” He asked why I lied, and I said, “Because you wouldn’t take no for an answer.” He was visibly upset, but left. I was worried that he might come back again and jump me as I was leaving for the night, but thank goodness, he never came back.
I don’t know why this guy seemed to believe he could change my mind when I was being very clear from the beginning that I wasn’t interested, but at the time, I only figured that if he didn’t respect my “No” to a date, would he not respect my “No” on a date if I had gone out with him? I hope that he was simply ignorant, and that I planted a seed in his mind that night that he needs to respect a woman’s “No” when she says it.
I attended college in a different county back in 2008, Miami Dade College. I would take the Miami bus then I would transfer and take a Broward county bus. When I first got on the Miami bus to go home I was with my bestfriend. As we got to our seats and sat down, she told me that this old man keeps staring at her. She got off her stop first, and then I later got off to walk to my next bus stop. That same man got off and started to talk to me in a very low voice. He had brown rotten teeth and messed up dirty hair. He looked like he was in his 50’s and was around 6ft tall. I’m only 5’3 and was 22 years old at that time. The man asked me, what was the next bus I was going to take? He then said how I look good, while sizing me from the back. The man also kept asking me for my number. Bus number 2 came and I quickly got on and sat next to a young man, so that the older guy won’t sit next to me. That young man eventually got off the bus and that old man sat down right next to me. The old guy again kept asking me for my number. My stop eventually came and I quickly got off that bus. Now I was a 40 minute walk from my house which is about 2 miles. I could easily take a third bus home or walk, but since I just missed the third bus I decided to walk. I didn’t know I was being followed at that time. I called my bestfriend and then all of a sudden the old guy started walking behind me. He walked so close to me that he was brushing up against my back. He kept saying, “Take my number or I will follow you home.” A lady around my age watched from behind along with a middle aged man. They kept saying out loud, “He is following her.” I yelled at the old man that was following me to leave me alone please. He walked away from me and turn back around. I was still jumpy so I walked to the McDonalds since it was right there. I stayed there for 20 minutes until I felt safe enough to walk home.
I’ve been followed a few times after that incident, but never again to that extreme. Now I have pepper spray and a stun gun.
Night time in the Mission, I’m leaving dinner to meet up with a friend at a bar 8 blocks north. It was later in the evening, most businesses were closed, and the amount of people walking on the streets were fading with each passing block. I was near my destination, and after spending the entire day in Mission, I felt comfortable enough walking to my next destination alone. In San Francisco. I thought, I’m from Detroit and feel safe back home, how sketch can SF be?
It got to the point to where I needed up put my hood up. The only people left roaming the streets were those severely intoxicated to the point of not being able to hold themselves up, groups of men, and the occasional cooky stung out homeless character. Having my hood up and hands in my pockets you think would indicate I am not walking around to have a chat. This man walks up to me and starts walking the same pace as me. Comments on the weather and continues to try to make small talk. I do what Detroiter’s do: look him in the eye, give him a civil head nod, and continue on my way. Apparently this isn’t enough of an indication to this man that I am NOT trying to have a chat.
He asks me if I’m going home, and tells me how beautiful I am (I’m wearing a freaking hood, you can barely see my face). I pick up my pace, so does he. I slow down, so does he. We are the only ones on the street and there are barely any cars driving by.
Finally I look at him and put my hands in front of me to suggest “halt” and say look, I’m not trying to talk. He makes a couple more comments about my hair and my legs and continues to follow me (mind you, I am wearing jeans, sneaks and a baggy coat).
Suddenly he is gone, as if to duck behind an alley. I put my hood down to ensure my peripheral vision is clear. Then luckily see a cab across the street dropping someone off. In a bit of a panic I run across the street to catch the cab, and went back to where I was staying. There went my comfort zone, my plans with a friend I hadn’t seen in over 2 years, and my ability to feel safe in this beautiful city I was visiting.
A man (who had harassed me once before) started following me and asking many personal questions – do I have a boyfriend? well ok you have a boyfriend but you’re not married right? etc.
The same night, I was followed down the street on the way to the metro by men calling after me. One of the men followed me and proceeded to try and “buy” me as if I were a prostitute. He said he had a beautiful room, comfortable bed, until another person grabbed me and said “no” (which I am still confused about). But after I tore away (as I am used to being grabbed), the fruit stand guy grabbed the guy who had been following me and stopped him. I will never forget him: someone finally helped.
Later that night, I went out clubbing and took a taxi home with friends because I was drunk. The taxi driver told me to stay in to pay, which my friend had already paid, and my drunk friends left, which is when he took advantage of my state. Sadly, this isn’t near the first time. I am tired of being raped, sexually assaulted, groped, stalked, etc. It needs to end, and people need to step up. Unfortunately, women often can’t speak out for fear of more violence. This is a moment where men can stop up and help women who are continually being victimized.
So recently i moved to Padova Italy to work there for a while. And since i got here i noticed that the amount of catcalling and streetharrasment is much higher than it was in my home town, which is also a big town. It made me feel very unsafe. When i go out of the house i get catcalled almost every 15minutes. And last week a man followed me for at least 10minutes. Iv never been in a situation like this where is so overwelming and so constant. The friends iv made here are experiencing the same, and even worst than me. Today I saw a short documentary about catcalling and street harrasment and it was very inspiring. I usually ignore my harasser’s but talking back seems like an empowering thing to do naturally when a man grabbed my arm on the street not half n hour later all I did was run away and try not to make eyecontact. Baby steps.
Not very recent at all, but still relevant. Once when I was 11 or 12 years old, I was out with my mom when a man came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go out for drinks. The man was probably 40 years older than me. He followed us up the block before giving up. My mother didn’t try to defend me or get rid of the man, nor did she talk to me about it later. Because my mom blamed me and never tried to protect me from bullying in school, I assumed that street harassment was also my fault.
Was walking downtown on a Sunday afternoon when I noticed someone close behind me and getting closer. I quickened my pace and moved to the side of the sidewalk when he groped my ass. He apologized and I told him to fuck off. 20 minutes later I saw him again, I took his picture and yelled at him, he told me not to take his picture and I told him not to grope women. He looked terrified. I reported it to the police and they did not even want to look at the picture.
At the time i was 15-16 i was alone going to a bus stop and this guy followed me there and asked me where the streetcar is and if i can show him, i said there is none here… Then he walks away and comes back and asks me to bring him to the subway i said no and he’s just staring at my boobs then he left and i called my friend crying and he came running back and i screamed “leave me the fuck alone or I’ll kill u!!” And he just came so close to me in the bus shelter staring at my boobs and my crotch and i told him to leave and he just stood there, slowly walking away. I was screaming cry cause i was alone then these couple came to the bus stop and i felt relived and he asked me whats wrong, i told him , and he said the same guy did the same thing to his gf across the street and said if he came back he would kick his ass so i felt safe. The next morning i woke up to go pick up my phone from a store and the same dude was infront of my condo and tried to hug me i dodged it and ran as fast as i could to a school and called the cops, when i was talking to the police they got a message that they arrested him half way through the interview. I also went downtown to hand out resumes and i needed to push a button to get into this one store, and the guy let me in and he was the only one working, he was like 60 and called me beautiful and was rubbing my leg asking if i was a virgin and he tried raping me.. I was 15!! I ran as fast as i could out of the store hoping i didnt need him to open the door for me to leave, i ran across to the grass and started crying and called the police. Other then that I’ve had about enough of this shit feeling unsafe going anywhere. I’ve had men on subways stalk me i have seen men just stare at me or down my shirt, I’ve also seen a guy masturbate on the subway and laughed about it thinking it was hilarious everyone saw and there were kids there… Like wtf?