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Today I went to my local (mixed) gym in Brussels.
An older man came up to me while I was on a cardio bike. He asked me if he had seen me before. I told him that I didn’t remember him so probably not (staying friendly but not engaging in the conversation).
At the end of my 1 hour cardio session he comes back telling me he likes my thighs and that my shorts made me show too much leg and that I should wear something else the next time I would come to the gym. Because he could “control” himself but maybe other younger men in the gym would not be able to”control” themselves. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I told him it was not my job to dress to his “standards” (less eloquent because my french isn’t that awesome). I blocked the following of the conversation and the man left.
When I was done (ten more minutes of anger pedalling and not believing this happened. I went to the desk and asked the employee if there is another female-only gym in the neighbourhood (they have it for a reason). She replies nicely and then I explain I will not be coming back and explained what happened.
I went for my bag and the head-employee storms towards me with her sandwich steaming. She was not-amused something like that happened and wanted to know who had said such a thing. I pointed out the man by saying what machine but told her I didn’t want a confrontation.
her colleague told her to confront the men when I left (which I was about to) and she almost stormed toward him. She also confirmed me that I was in my right and that being properly dressed wasn’t up to the man to decide. the short was good enough.
So I am sad I am leaving this place though.
Honestly, today’s experience of verbal harassment is nothing new to me. I am so tired. I was walking into my place of work (which I love and always feel safe at) when a group of five men that were by a moving truck started barking at me and said “we see what you got and we like it.” I was grabbing stuff out of my car and trying to hurry into work as they continued barking. I turned to them and just said “can you not” and they all laughed. I can’t tell if they were moving into the building next door (God I hope not) or just helping someone move. I work in the vicinity of the University of Michigan, where verbal harassment (and sexual assault) are huge issues. I feel so powerless and sad. I came into work and texted my supportive, feminist boyfriend. I am sitting at my desk trying not to cry. This happens to me weekly, at the least. I am sick of not feeling safe. My boyfriend suggested calling the non-emergency police line and reporting verbal harassment. I wasn’t even sure if I really should…will anything be done? This happens to me all the time. It’s nothing new. But that doesn’t mean that I am immune to it. I hate it, I resent it. I feel sad and helpless. I preach being a strong, independent woman. But nothing makes me feel smaller or weaker than being verbally harassed. I. a.m so. tired.
I was walking by Balcony Bar minding my own business when a creepy, dirty man (about 48-49 years old) wearing a blue bandana around his head says to me “beautiful body.” I stopped, turned around and said “please don’t say that, I don’t appreciate it.” He then went on to call me a “fuckin bitch.” Thankfully I was in a public space because this man looked like he could’ve gotten physically violent. It’s definitely something to be aware of when fighting against this verbal abuse. The man was drinking and looked like he was intoxicated, which could’ve elevated the situation.
It was a gorgeous day and I was driving to work with my windows open and stopped at an intersection. I was just eating an ice cream bar I had just purchased at 711 when a guy driving a minivan next to me yells “I wanna bite!” I yell back “f*ck off you f*cking weirdo!” and start to roll up my window. But then I think “no damn it! I was enjoying the nice weather and opened my window back down and turned up my music. I’m not going to let some creeper ruin my day!
I’m a server, at a small family owned restaurant. I love it, but the hours are so crazy sometimes. I typically get out after midnight. This night in particular I had to stop by Kroger on the way home to grab some tampons and groceries. No big deal. But as I was walking down the bread isle, some guy crosses my path and doubles back. He’s around my age. Frat guy looking. And I’m thinking “okay here we go.” So he keeps pace behind me. Doesn’t say anything. So I’m like “well maybe he’s forgotten something ahead and I’m being paranoid.” No. He follows me down several isles. He pretends to look at things as I continue to shop. He hasn’t even picked anything up. He doesn’t have a cart or a basket. So I start to get weirded out. Then I guess he musters up the courage to talk to me, so he says “having a good night, darlin?” And it’s so freaking creepy. He’s not even making eye contact with me, just staring at my body like I’m meat on the grill. So I’m like “I was, creep.” And I turn and walk away. This I guess, pisses him off. So he follows me in a huff and I can hear him muttering to him self “bitch” so I decide, ‘you know, I really need a giant box of tampons and pads.’ So I turn down the feminine hygiene isle. I guess he realizes where he is, and is disgusted, so he turns around and leaves. I made sure I had a manager walk me to my car. Thank god for tampons.
I’m just sitting at a red light, first car in line, minding my own business. This runner stops across the intersection from me and locks eyes with me and starts staring me down. He puts his hand in his shorts and starts masturbating, never breaking eye contact. So I took a picture, because at the very least, I have proof. But when I did that, he slowly took his hand out of his pants, raises his hands over his head, beamed from ear to ear, let out a delighted whoop, and ran off in the opposite direction. Creeper.
Today I was walking with my friend trying to get to the subway when a male passed me and told me I shouldn’t look so angry anymore. I was annoyed by the comment but let it go and put some distance between us. Sadly him and his group of friends stopped and I had to pass them again. I guess one of his friends made a comment about me and the original male said aloud that “I just told her about herself”. I know I shouldn’t have but I snapped and told him to f*** himself. Something about him thinking I needed to listen to a stranger on the street really got to me. I regretted saying anything tho because as I made my way to the train I got scared that he was following me and that him and his friend would try and hurt my friend and me. I hate that I let him gain power over me. I feel like he won.
I am an avid yogi and I work hard to make it to yoga class every day with my busy schedule. I was so excited when I moved into the city within walking distance from my yoga studio. I usually walk the 5 minutes to class then walk home when it’s over, still in my yoga clothes. Apparently me wearing yoga pants is an invitation for men to comment on my most blessed attributes. Two days ago I was walking home from class when about 3 blocks from my house a white car drove up next to me, rolled down the side window and said “damn girl look at that ass”. I ignored them as I always do… the car drove down the block, turned around at the round about and rolled past me again, “ASS all day!”. He did this turn around/drive-by and yell thing about 6 times before I ended up running the last block home. I hid in the alley behind my house so that he wouldn’t be able to tell where I live and I cried. I now drive the 7 blocks to my yoga studio everyday out of fear that the same man or someone else might take it even further than that.
I was walking down a main road in my town to go to a local park. About 100 yards ahead of me sat a man on a bench. At this distance, he looked straight at me and then quickly stood up and crossed the street. I noticed his abrupt movement and thought it was a little odd, but didn’t think that much of it. I kept walking. After another five minutes or so of walking down that same street, I looked over and there was the same man, still across the street, walking in the same direction parallel to me. I tried to calm my paranoia and figured, “Maybe he’s going to the park too” or to some other nearby location. As we both kept walking, however, I noticed that he would frequently look over at me from across the street and made sure to walk at the exact same pace that I was walking. When I slowed down, he slowed down. When I sped up, he sped up. At this point, we were in a very residential part of town where there were no businesses or public places, only houses, and I was getting scared. We were the only two people on the street. Finally we passed by a church. I decided to try an experiment to see if he really was following me: in front of the church, I stopped dead in my tracks and took out my cell phone. I figured the man would keep walking without regard for my direction, and I would feel silly. To my horror, he stopped when I stopped, and turned to look at me, as if he was waiting for me to keep moving so he could continue to follow me. At this point I made direct eye contact with him from across the street, put on a serious face, and pretended to make a phone call (it could have been to 911 or the police or whatever; the point was just to let him know that I knew he was following me and I was calling someone to report it). At this point, the man turned around down a random side street and stopped following me.
It was another seven minutes of walking to the park, and I was turning around to look over my shoulder the entire time.
I went to my first college dance last semester as a sophomore with friends. A guy I only knew from one of my classes was intoxicated and was leaning on me and asked if me and my friend could get a pic in the photo booth. In the booth he groped me below the waist and leaned into me from behind while doing it. I was shocked and scared so my friend and I eventually got away from him. A few minutes later he came by grabbed me and started to pull me away from my friends but they stopped him. It freaked me out but I reported him to the college and he was punished. Speaking up felt like a weight off my shoulders, but it still scares me.