My boyfriend and I were on the 19 San Bruno bus going to Safeway. the bus was pretty full so he stood next to me in the aisle while I sat next to a stranger. the person next to me got off the bus so I moved over into the window seat and crossed my legs, putting my foot on the seat next to me to briefly save it for my boyfriend. before he could sit down, a man who had been sitting across the aisle, got out of his own seat, barged in front of my boyfriend, and sat down right on my foot! I said “excuse me I was saving this seat so my boyfriend could sit with me why did you have to get out of your own seat to sit next to me?” and also, y’know, get off my foot! he stood up, grabbed my leg hard, and roughly pulled it off the seat. then he leaned over me and literally uncrossed my legs with his hands, pulling them apart, and placing my foot on the floor. I tried to resist and keep my leg in place but he was being very rough and forceful using all of his strength to reposition me like some sort of doll. when he was done he just sat back down next to me and looked straight ahead like nothing had happened. I tried to say something but I was in shock and instead I just burst into tears. my boyfriend yelled “what the hell is wrong with you!? you don’t put your hands on her!” and then took my hand and helped me step over the guy (he made no effort to get out of my way) and into the aisle. two people in back kindly gave up their seats for us. I struggle with PTSD because I was raped in the past, and I do not like it when strangers touch me at all, but especially the way this man pulled my legs apart to uncross them while I physically resisted was very triggering to me. I couldn’t stop crying and shaking until we got off the bus. I felt so unbelievably powerless, violated, and objectified… like I was some kind of mannequin or ragdoll whose body is just an object to be posed and positioned at whim. it ruined my day.
I’ve only had two particularly bad instances of street harassment. There was one time I was walking to the charity shop I worked at at the weekend (bear in mind this was at around 9 in the morning) and one man who looked about 50 got all up in my personal space and said “hey sexy what’s your name” – I ignored him and tried to get past him but he kept blocking my way and leering at me. When I eventually got past he grabbed my arm and pulled me back to him so I had to physically shove him off me, which he responded to by hurling slurs and derogatory comments at me and spitting as I speed walked as fast as I could away from him. There was also another instance where I was doing this crappy minimum wage morning job handing out flyers for a pasta place in town and as I was working these two men decided that it would be an appropriate time for them to try it on with me. Again, they both looked old enough to be my dad. They said things like “hey gorgeous is your number on this flyer?” and “you’re too pretty to be doing this – you should be modelling” but when I ignored them and kept working they switched to more sexually explicit comments about my body and what they’d like to do to it, and they started trying to touch my face and my bum. When I told them to get the f away from me I got in trouble with my manager for being rude to potential customers. I actually quit that job because of the amount of harassment I received. Both times were in broad daylight on busy streets and I was under 18.
So I was walking back from one of my classes that I take about 5 minutes away from the dorm I live in. I rode my bike that day and was wearing a nice white dress. It had started raining so I was walking my bike so I didn’t get mud all over my dress. As I was walking my bike a man standing outside smoking said “You should get a wheel guard for your bike, wouldn’t want to get mud up that pretty white dress” I felt like this was more than just an innocent friendly suggestion. I was very embarrassed and just kept walking. As I approached the bus stop I met the eyes of an older man. I smiled politely only to be met with “Nice legs, and the rest of your body is good too.” I was so shocked. I told him “You can’t just say that to me.” to which he replied “Yes I can.” I was so afraid I got on my bike and quickly rode back not caring if I got mud all over my dress. At first I felt guilty but then I realized what I wear is not an invitation to talk to me especially if it will make me uncomfortable or feel unsafe.
I was running errands in town, and because parking is limited was doing most of it on foot. as I was nearing the bank, a man was saying terrible things to his young female child and using the situation to intimidate the women who looked up in dismay. He shouted at the toddler to intimidate the crowd. “don’t even bother looking at them, they ain’t going to help you, they don’t care about you,” was how he addressed the crowd and made eye contact with the crowd inbetween saying awful sexiest things to a baby girl who could not be older than 4.
people were staring, and I was disgusted. So I said to him very politely and sternly that is inappropriate to act that way in public or at home would you please stop.
the man, who was very tall, proceded to describe how he was going to follow me home and kill me. he used very derogatory terms toward me, hinted that he was going to rape me and in a very short time frame did everything he could to frighten intimidate me.
so I whipped out my cell phone press record and held it right up in the air. And I said something along the lines of “what an interesting conversation why don’t we share it with the local police department.”
at that point I said “I believe you just threatened me and I need to respond in some way,” but then he grabbed his little girl and was running away.
before I moved away from Binghamton, New York, I saw that pattern a lot. Where men who were caretakers of little girls would say awful things to the little girls in public and look around challenging people to do something about it. It was one of the sickest things I think a person can do, using a little child to try to show how tough they are by emotionally destroying that child in public.
each time I had those interactions I would always whip out my cell phone and the guy who was threatening to kill me, rape me, sodomize me, f*** my skull, etc, would immediately get silent and either run away or walk away very quickly.
I think it is important to point out that street harassment occurs to little girls who don’t know what it is and have no voice within this discussion. instead of strangers, children get it from family members and friends who use the public venue to power trip on harming little children.
Last night I was by myself getting a piece of pizza, when two guys whistled and said ‘eyyyy guapa ey ey’ at a girl passing in front of the shop. I turned to them and said in Spanish, why did you say that? One guy said because she is ‘guapa’ and I replied but why do you have to comment on her and you know women don’t like or appreciate it – at least the majority. He replied saying well what i should call her ugly? I responded no just don’t comment, it is harassment we are women, human beings, not things. His friend joined in and said to me that I was ugly. I said fine I don’t care what you think, because what you are actually trying to do is defend yourself from the fact that I and the people in this pizza place agree with me that you should not speak to women that way (the bystanders were nodding their heads in agreement). Then a friend of the two guys, tried ‘consoling’ me, which i told him was unnecessary and ridiculous i was just standing up for myself and other women, and that he should not let his friends talk to women that way, and then he tried escorting me home and hitting on me! I then took a sharp turn onto a different street to avoid him and walked home.
I live across from an autobody shop and experienced daily harassment from the men who worked there (middle of the day during work hours, all backgrounds). I’m dressed for the grocery store and they’re hollering, whistling, or just making loud, unneccesary noises at me. Clicking their tongues at me? How little you must care for a human being to reduce your interaction (harassment) to sounds you’d use to coo an animal. Anyway I began to tell them to fuck off, yelling it at them from across the street, which is embarassing as it’s right infront of an educational facility. I told my boyfriend about it many times but, as men who don’t have these experiences do, mostly gave me a “that’s weird” and brushed it off. Finally one day we were walking by and I told my boyfriend “it’s funny how they only show me respect because i am walking with a man” when we were almost at my front door and one of them yelled “YOU’VE GOT A FAT ASS”. My boyfriend quickly turned and stormed over and demanded that they show me some respect. The harassment stopped immediately, they have not bothered me since. But now, i feel angry with myself for not being the one with the power to end this situation on my own. I want to know how to stop this as a woman without endangering myself.
I was at the mall, browsing for Christmas gifts and killing time before meeting a friend for lunch. In Goldsboro, the mall is pretty deserted during the weekday. I was walking, texting my husband, minding my own business, and it shouldn’t matter, but I was wearing a jacket and a crew neck t-shirt, and looseish jeans, when I heard…
“Mmmmmmmmmmmmm-MMM”. I realized that the sound came from a group of three males walking in the other direction. At first I felt vaguely gratified, because I’ve been trying to lose weight. Then I felt dirty, horrible, and ashamed, because I realized that it sounded like he was looking at a plate of brownies or a steak.
I turned around, and realized all three were walking backwards to keep their gaze on my backside. It would have been comical if I wasn’t so offended by having treated like a side of bacon.
I saw red, and informed this group of men that I was a person, not a slab of meat, and the next time they wanted to treat a woman that way, they should keep their goddamn mouths shut. They started laughing, and then one said, “Fucking cracker cunts” and walked off.
I have never felt so angered and humiliated in my life.
I was sitting in the lobby of the hospital, waiting for my job required screening. There was one other person in the room with me. A middle aged man sat across from me. We had not engaged in eye contact or conversation. I looked up from my phone to see him pointing the camera of HIS phone directly at me. I stared at him in defiance hoping the fact that I caught him red handed would deter him from actually taking my picture. Unmoved in the slightest, I heard the shutter sound. I was in shock. He proceeded to pretend to take photos of the chairs directly to my right, fiddling with them as he took them. I stealthily took a picture of HIM and posted this exchange on my Facebook wall. I remained silent and waited till I was called by the doctor to call this man on his violation. As I passed him I spoke quietly, “I truly hope, that I am NOT in ANY of those pictures you were taking earlier.”
He replied, “Oh no you are not”
I emphasized my displeasure, “I better not be.” And followed the doctor back. I alerted the nurse who attended me of the incident.
The man was called back shortly after I was called. This is his picture.
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.