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I was sixteen years old and my father sent me into Target to pick up a few things. While shopping I was followed around by a much older man. He would smile at me and he came up to me about three times asking me for my phone number. I tried to ignore him but he got more aggresive when I did. I told a store employee and was informed there was nothing they could do for me. But the part that upset me the most was when I told my father what happened and that I didn’t want to go into places by myself anymore, he informed me that this is just what happens when your pretty and that I just needed to ignore them and deal with the comments.
This is only the most recent story of harassment in my life. It’s not the worst either, not even the worst this month.
I didn’t have enough money to get out of the bus station. My husband had already gone through the barrier and was waiting for me on the other side. I go to pay at one of the atm like stations. While I’m standing there 2 men come up behind me, too close, and I ask them to back up. Instead they get in my face and says he isn’t doing anything, it escalates too fast. I’m terrified, I let my guard down because I was out with my husband so I didn’t have any pepper spray at the ready. I start freaking out and my husband rushes around the corner and starts screaming at these guys to back off. They don’t back off, they say they’re gonna hurt us. I really don’t want to say what my husband did next, but it was pretty obvious that he was going to kill these guys if he had to. I finally start thinking straight & run to jump the barrier and we ran for blocks.
This is not that recent, but I’d like to share. I was 33 and minding my own business on an airplane. The guy next to me started chatting me up and telling me what he did for a living (military, arms development). I played along because I didn’t want to be rude. I thought, “Well, I’m on a plane to Memphis, and I’ve heard that people are more outgoing or friendly or whatever in the South.” Then it turned into a dinner invitation, which I hedged. THEN it turned into this guy knocking repeatedly on my hotel room door and saying “Helllllooooo? You were going to go to dinner with me?! Hey!” several times in a row. I was cowering in my hotel room, at the age of 33 and with several years of being in a male-dominated profession. But what could I do? This still creeps me out.
I’m so glad you guys exist. When I was 13, I accidentally strayed away from my parents as we were walking in Manhattan one Sunday afternoon when a tall man cat called me saying, “hey baby.” It was the most scary, uncomfortable and traumatizing experience of my adolescence. I quickly ran away from the man as my eyes pinpointed my parents location. As a 30 something adult now, I still get chills walking alone because of this experience.
I can’t even recall all the things I’ve heard, street harassment is real everywhere in the world, but it seems to be taken to a whole new level when we are talking about Brazil. Since it is a country that is pretty much in summer all year long women tend to wear shorts and tank tops pretty much everywhere and I have lost count of how many times my mom told me she would not let me out on the streets wearing what I was wearing–she didn’t mean wrong, it’s just that she was afraid for my safety, what makes me sad is that she had to be, is that I have to be worried and constantly looking back so that I can spot a potential raper and have time to run or call for help, it is simply not OK to walk around in fear 24/7. Once I was walking down the street with some friends and a guy catcalled us, we had been catcalled at least 10 times in a short period of time and I’ve had enough, so I showed him my middle finger and told him to fuck off (sorry for the vocabulary), don’t get me wrong I know this is not the best way to handle the situation, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. You know what my friends did? They were horrified that I even answered the guy and told me I should have just stayed quiet and kept walking. No, I’m sorry I can’t stay quiet anymore. It is not fair that I can’t run in the street anymore because my gym outfit is too provocative, it is not ok that I’ve never taken the public transport of my city because I am too afraid of being harassed, it is ok that I have to be scared of being a girl.
In my 20’s and 30’s I was regularly subjected to verbal harassment on the street, inside shopping malls, and basically in public places. Eventually I carried what appeared to be small business cards (which I bought at a NOW convention). I would turn and smile at the harasser and give him a card, which he inevitably assumed contained my phone number. Instead it said, “You have just insulted a woman. This card has been chemically treated. In 3 days, your prick will fall off.” It was my way of taking control.
watching the video reminds me of what I go through everyday of my life since I was 13 years old. I have had men grab my arm, one man crashed his car just to say vulgar things or try to talk to me. I have had notes left on my car that I was being followed, I even got attacked by a cable guy installing cable once who then decided to move into my complex to watch me everyday. I am 40 now and even as I write this story by 8:30 am today I already got 3 cat calls from the gas station to walking into my building at work. It’s literally everyday. I hate to see what the count is when I go out at lunch. I had a scary incident recently where I had a stalker and he actually came up to me and said “hey during sex do you like to be tied up and choked?” I mean really!!! everyday he was in my parking lot at work, security had to get involved. I lost a good girlfriend because of her husband’s advances. I try my best to ignore it and watching that video just makes me see I am not the only one that goes through this everyday of my life!
About a month ago I saw a substitute Street Sense guy really getting in this woman’s business near my Metro station. He followed her for a half a block, telling her she was pretty and just needed to smile.
It’s been eating me that not only did no one say something, I didn’t say anything either.
Today, I saw the same guy start the same routine with another woman. So I got his attention and said in a loud voice, “That woman doesn’t owe you a smile.”
I reported him to the company too. I don’t have a lot of hope that this guy will necessarily stop, but I hope that any of the dozen or so people who saw me get loud will remember for next time that street harassment stops with them.
There was a man harassing women on the street yesterday and getting a sick sense of amusement out of it. He would intentionally walk in the pathway of women and intimidate them with his size so they would have no choice but to move or walk another route. I observed him doing this and laughing every time he got the intended response he wanted.
He did this to me, and then proceeded to follow me into a fast food restaurant where I was ordering food. He came up to the cash register and made a false order of fries, played animal sounds from a phone app he had, startled us (me and the cashier) and walked off laughing.
As I was walking towards the subway I saw him continue to do this to other women. I also noticed that he was heading towards the subway where I was headed. I made a plan that if it turned out he was following me I’d yell and make a commotion about him stalking me and about contacting the police.
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!