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I was 12 years old when I was sexually harassed for the first time. It was at a public event. I was seated in an auditorium and couldn’t get away. The incident involved verbal comments and touching. The harasser ignored my requests to stop. When I spoke up about what happened I was reminded that I was thin, had blonde hair and blue eyes so I should probably get used to it as “boys will be boys”.
These sorts of incidents have played out time and time again throughout my life. These days I wear a few extra pounds that I have come to realize are for self-protection. I’ve learned that if I dare to lose a few pounds and dress nicely, the harassment will begin again.
I also understand why men feel under attack by this campaign. I don’t believe most men engage in this sort of behavior. At the same time we need men on our side to help send the message that this sort of behavior is not funny or harmless and is certainly not “a compliment”.
On Saturday night, I went to a beautiful concert downtown Seattle with six of my closest friends. The gorgeous venue and music made me feel alive and free and full. On our way back to the car a couple of blocks away, we were verbally harassed by a car full of men catcalling to us out the window, talking about our body parts, etc. This went on for an entire block. The evening had been so perfect. I was pissed that even a small portion of the evening with my dear friends was ruined by being forced to endure a verbal sexual assault at the end of our night.
I work behind a bar so take your pick! Last night a couple of lads shouting ‘stop staring at her arse’ to each other so I could hear as I was taking lights down from the ceiling….then the obligatory ‘bye gorgeous’ and sleazy wink as they left…. An older man at the bar holding onto my hand for what felt like forever while repeatedly telling me how beautiful I am and that it’s nice ‘to have something to look at’ for a change….
I was walking to the cinema at around 8pm when I passed a group of 6-8 young men that were bouncing a basketball. They started staring at me and yelling “hey, you” “hey, girl” so I told them to fuck off. They then threw a basketball at me, which hit the wall behind me and started telling me to get over there and fuck them. When they started walking closer I yelled “I have pepper spray and I will spray all of you” to which they replied by calling me a “spicy mama” and then rambling in spanish.
Was cycling on the road in Glasgow and a car full of four men went by me too fast and too close while they all hollered at me from the car. The one in the front passenger seat was leaning right out the window and whooping at me.
In my country, verbal harassment is, unfortunately, very common. For me, it started when I was 11 or 12. At that age, I was terrified of walking in front of construction works, because I knew that the cat-calls, the whistling and the shouts wouldn’t stop. I felt like an object every time someone call me like that, and now, as the 16 years old I am, it has only became worse. I was walking to buy some chips and a soda, in a not-at-all revealing outfit (like, jeans and a sweater) and in that really short walk, 5 men stared at my ass, some even try to talk to me, asking me if I was single or something like that. Some of them could have been my grandparents! I mean, they don’t have sisters, wife or daughters? They would like that some creepy man would shout something about her boobs or ass, like it was the weather? It’s so unfair that we had to change clothes twice or thrice times, not because we want to look better or something like that, but because we know that if we wear shorts or a tank top, some perv would take that as an invitation to shout how “good they would feel in bed” or “better you would look naked”. How I wish I have made up those lines, but they are true. My friends, cousins, mother, aunts, sister and every woman I know has experienced that and we’re tired of all these. Government, authorities and media can’t talk about equality until this stops. It’s not like we’re asking for impossible. It’s not like harassment is a right that man have to feel manlier. Machismo starts at winking, and it can end in worse things.
It was last year my senior year in high school. My small class had went to attend Grad Bash at Universal and Island of adventures. The park is open to only seniors until 1 in the morning. It had been a long night and hundreds of seniors were standing to be let out (we had to go in and come out certain parts of the parks.) I was wearing loose shorts and a guy behind me ran his hand up the back of my thigh, into my shorts, and grabbed my ass. I quickly turned around not being able to tell who did it with the group of guys laughing probably with who ever put his hand in my shorts.
I was walking home at around 8pm at night when a man in a van slowed down next to me and whistled out his window, asking me if I wanted ‘to go for a ride’
I was standing at a crossing waiting to cross the road when a guy turned around and said “Nice!” to me, and then took a photo of me on his phone and walked off.
A guy singing lady in red at me loudly.