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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.
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 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.
I was walking in the parking lot of my boxing gym (which I started going to partially because I want to be able to protect myself) after a workout. As I was crossing the lot to my car another car drove by and I heard someone yell out the window “heyyyyy Babyyyy.” I have called men out for catcalling many times in the past and this time would have been no different. As I turned to say something, I saw that the person calling out to me was a preteen boy yelling out of the back window of his parents minivan. I was so shocked that they start them that young, I couldn’t even form the words. I can only hope that his parent disciplined him or at least explained to him that what he did was wrong and why. I took to social media to vent about what had happened, and while most people were equally appalled some people thought that it was “cute” that a little kid did it. I can see how that might be cute, kind of like when a little kid curses, but its just a sign of how much this is a societal problem. Kids start catcalling at a young age because they see other people do it and don’t see how it can be damaging to others and nobody explains it because “its cute” and then they grow up and do it as adults, and that is definitely not “cute.”
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.
A guy sitting next to me on the bus and constantly badgering me to go out with him until I got off the bus.
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 was leaving the west village to meet my boyfriend, after having worked a long shift at the west village restaurant I’ve worked at for the past two years. I was wearing jeans, boots, a hoodie with the hood up and my glasses were on. I think I put the hoodie on because it was cold out and wanted to cover my head, not to make any kind of “statement.” It was a Tuesday night. As I’m walking along Macdougal past Turkiss Falafel shop, some guy looks me up and down and says “Wow, you look like Super Girl, and if you took off your glasses you would probably look awesome!” I get endless catcalls leaving work in this area, but this one stuck with me mostly because the nonchalant way this guy said this subversive comment, with no concern for how it actually came out, like he had just sneezed and kept on walking. Who are you to tell me what I do and do not look like to you?! Would you ever say that to a guy who had his hoodie up? And who are you to tell me if I would look better or worse without my glasses on?! I do not just exist for your viewing enjoyment! I am not the couch in you and your roommate’s place that you can just say, hmm it would look better on that wall, and maybe without the couch cover. I am human being. I need glasses to see. And if girls with glasses are not sexy to you, why would you feel the need to say that to a random stranger who wasn’t even making eye contact with you.
Okay, so to start off I’ll give you a little bit of history- this incident happened 3 years ago (I was fifteen at the time). I got on a bus by the local shopping center. Only one seat was open by the time I got on because I made sure all of the elderly people had found a seat first. I was wearing a t-shirt that said University of Virginia Rowing Camp- it wasn’t revealing, just stated that I was a rower attending one of the local training camps.
This guy claims to have been a rowing coach, tells enough stories to convince me that he at least knows a bit about the sport, but I tripped him up on the difference between port and starboard- in maritime world “Port” means the left side, “Starboard” means the right side. In Rowing, this gets reversed. Any real crew coach would have caught on to the difference.
So, after realizing this (and that i didn’t have my cell phone or pepper spray with me) I got off the bus at the next stop. So did the guy. While I’m waiting for the next bus to appear, he proceeds to compliment me on my “southern accent”. I am from Connecticut, okay? The only way I have a southern accent is if you are from either Maine or Canada. I switched buses three more times. Each time I switched, so did he.
Eventually I made my way back to the center of the city and had to walk into the local police department to get this guy to stop following me. And that is only the first time this happened (it has happened three times since, in three separate cities. I was followed by a drunk guy in New York City who kept persistently trying to start a conversation about my shirt. My friend and I were both approached while walking to our local movie theater and asked by some guy who you could literally smell the cloud of weed smoke rolling off of if we wanted to go to a party. And the third time was during my first month of college here in Willimantic. A guy in a red Toyota four door pulled over and asked me: “Excuse me, how old are you?” While looking at my boobs in a way that implied what he was really asking, which was: “Is it legal to have sex with you”. I guess my real question is will it ever stop? I’m no more or less attractive than anybody else. What makes it okay for a man (or anyone ever) to do that to someone- taking away their sense of security to the point that they don’t feel safe to walk alone without pepper spray?