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Hi. I was walking outside my apartment building today and as I was rounding a bend, after being adjacent to a busy street, I heard a young man shouting something after me from across the street. It was unintelligible, but made me feel like I had done something wrong, and disappointed me because it disturbed my sense of peace and tranquility. It made me feel like I can’t even take a walk.
I feel like something in our culture has changed because I used to not get any harassment and now it seems like its the easiest thing in the world to just go somewhere and have someone verbally attack me. I was a victim of bullying 20 years ago at college but had not been bullied very much in K-12 and I was not bullied significantly again until 2010. I wonder of it is cyclical and, during certain times, the streets are inhospitable, but at other times (for me 2006-7) people are respectful. One thing is for certain, where I live it is currently hostile.
Today when I was at work I went down to the food court to get some water. I walked over to the drinking fountains to dump out my old water before I had it refilled, and as I was walking away, this man who was walking my way looked at me in a strange way and then started to walk closer to me.
It weirded me out a bit but I kept walking. As I was waiting in line to have them refill my cup, I kind of spaced out looking ahead, when I felt someone’s presence next to me. I turned my head and the man was standing literally right there next to me, uncomfortably close. He spoke very quietly, asking me how old I was. I felt extremely uncomfortable and tried to show that with my body language by trying to distance myself from him, but he just got closer. I replied slowly and awkwardly, “I’m 22.”
He then asked me if I was mad or something, because I obviously did NOT want to talk to him. So I said, “No, I just don’t really understand why you are talking to me right now.” He replied with “Cuz you cute.” I was like “Oh. Ok. Thanks I guess.” Then he said something about me being anti-social, so I said yeah, I’m shy, even though I’m not at all. And he said, “I wouldn’t judge you, I’m schizophrenic and bipolar.” At this point it was my turn to order, so I just ignored him and proceeded with what I was doing.
The guy at the counter was definitely aware of what was going on, and I could see that in his face. The man asked them about where the bus stop was and I left as quickly as possible. The thing that freaked me out was when he told me about is mental problems. Why would anyone share that information with a complete stranger? It scared me, because if he was already being creepy by hitting on me, but he was ALSO struggling with mental issues, who knows what this guy could do! And I was wearing my lanyard for work so he could easily figure out where I’m working! Ugh it was just creepy and weird and it got my heart racing. Totally uncool.
Today, I got verbally assaulted because of a car accident…I was the one at fault and I tried to take responsibility for it by switching information, however….the woman said she was going to call her husband because it was his car, ok…understandable…She said “oh no you don’t understand..he’s going to be mean to you” Then why are you calling him, especially since no damage was done to his car???
He shows up and immediately goes into it with “What did this stupid bitch do to my car?!” Ok…..he saw the tiny scratch that you can’t see and went up to me and said “Well look at this stupid bitches car! She clearly is doing this all the time with what her car looks like! Stupid fucking bitch, get the fuck out of here this is your fucking freebie bitch, leave! I said GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE BITCH!”
I’m not kidding….here I am trying to literally make things right and what not, and this guy is verbal harassing me! I was like, I said I was sorry, I said I was at fault, I will help with any damage and you are accusing me of being a terrible driver for a single incident and what you think my car looks like? My car doesn’t have any damage except my paint job which is flaking off because it is a cheap paint job…then while I’m trying to figure out what to do for myself he continues to yell at me telling me to “get the fuck out of here,” when my door isn’t able to close anymore on my car while him and his friends make jokes on how women suck at driving…and when one of his friends is trying to “console” me I just nod and he walks off and starts telling his friends what a bitch I am…..
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!??!
Today I was going for a walk to get some exercise and two men in a car drove past me and yelled something to me. When I kept walking and ignored them, the driver honked at me.
While walking through the downtown arts district, on my way to get a sandwich, a man started walking very close to me. He asked me if he could follow me. I ignored him. He asked if I was afraid of him and said that most girls are. He continued to follow me for a few more blocks, asking if he could touch my dimples. Ew. Finally he gave up and walked away. This is only one experience of dozens I’ve had with street harassment on this block.
I’ve been in Morocco for 3.5 days now, traveling with my 60-year-old godparents and usually a Moroccan guide walking through these cities. Even with this group around me, I could not possibly count the number of times men have blatantly (and creepily) stared at me, called me “beautiful,” muttered “nice” under their breath as I walked past, yelled from a passing motorcycle, etc. One man standing outside a restaurant called over to me as I got out of a car, “I was born for you!” Today in Meknes a guy outside a restaurant whispered to me “ich liebe dich,” which means “I love you” in German. This one, like many of them, was a restaurant worker trying to get customers to come in and eat and I’d like to think my refusing them service is an act of fighting back, but it’s not much. At least I’m not positively reinforcing their behavior. I wish I could single-handedly change the culture of street harassment in Morocco, but I guess I’ll settle for trying to at least make the occasional man feel uncomfortable after harassing me. I just have to start trying to say something when it happens.
Men along the sidewalk lined up, drinking in public. Said obnoxious things- compliments meant to intimidate, not flatter.
Harassment also happens to older women who walk. This has happened more than once in Rockville. I have been out walking because I do not drive and I choose not to take the bus. People driving by yell at me because I am walking (and wearing a hat). They yell “hey, I like your hat” and the like. It makes me angry because I am just going about my business. Once it even happened right by my workplace. I don’t know what to do.
When I was thirteen, I was taking the city’s metro back home. A man, far older than me, came and sat by me. He started to talk to me and told me I was too “sexy” to be that young. As I stood up to get off at my stop, he tried to block my path and trap me in the seat. Another passenger pulled him out of my way. I was so scared I ran all the way home, and didn’t tell my parents because I blamed myself for dressing a certain way. Without that man pulling him out of my way, who knows what could have happened?
The first time I was harassed, I was seven, sitting in a movie theater, watching a kids’ movie. A man came and sat-down next to me. He put his hand on my seat and spread his fingers open, trying to touch me as I squeezed over as far to my left as I could get without leaving my seat. (Changing seats never occurred to me; I was a shy child.) Maybe the creepiest part of the whole creepy thing is that as he left, he dropped three dollars into my popcorn, which was quite a bit for a kid in 1958. I was so innocent, I was totally bewildered.
An interesting footnote is that I was groped again in a movie theater, in Denver, CO, when I was in my late twenties. The man behind me put his hand through the space between the chairs and touched me on the breast. I chased him out of the theater but gave it up when he ran out the door.