Assault, groping, Stalking, Story, Verbal

Michelle’s Story: “I hate walking down the street”

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!

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Story, Verbal

Pat’s Story: Saddened that harassment still exists today.

My 20 something friend was working in Cambridge Ma. She wanted to take a power walk at lunch. She wore an oversized hoodie as to not attract attention. She had to stop walking as she go so many verbal sexual comments that she did not feel safe.

At 58 years old, I experienced such issues in the 70’s and believe me I dressed conservative. This made me so sad that things never change.

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Nonverbal Harassment, Story

Sarah’s Story: “We had not idea what he was intending to do…”

I was walking with my friends through Digbeth, in Birmingham. We were visiting a friend and she was showing us this really cool graffiti art. There was 4 of us. So, we were starting to leave the area towards the street when we noticed a man who was just staring at us.

We could tell that he was probably drunk – even though it was around 3pm – because, he was walking really slowly and in rough short movements. He started to walk faster and faster towards us until he was directly in front of us. We had no where to go as he had cornered us (we had linked arms). Then he walked straight up to us, nose to nose to my friend as if he was trying to intimidate her. Then she pushed him away with her hand, so he left us walking away slowly, but still staring. We quickly left the area and did not have another encounter, but we could still see him back there from afar, just waiting.

That is the closest contact I have had with someone before on the street and it was easily the most frightening thing, because we had no idea what he was intending to do or what we was going to do.

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Story, Verbal

HOLLA ON THE GO: Told to smile

Was told to “smile pretty girl” while walking down the street.

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Story, Verbal, youth

Gwynne’s Story: Blamed for walking at night

I have always been a night person, and a lover of walking. My style is laid back, loose clothing – it has always been this way.
The first time I experienced sexual harassment was when I was 12 and was walking late at night maybe around 1am, in a neighborhood that is not none as ‘dangerous’. A man followed me in a van encouraging me into it, eventually he left, but I learned a lot from that experience.
Last year I was walking down Bloor street (near Dundas west) going west, I had just finished work and it was around 2am and I lived about 30min away, so I decided to walk. A man in a car stopped and started to talk to me, I said nothing, he followed me – he would drive then park up ahead then when I passed he’d do it all over again, every time asking me questions as I passed. He followed me for 20min.
One summer night for some reason the street car was taking far to long – I must of waited like 20min, till I started walking and then when the street car did arrive I’d been walking for more then 30min. Anyways I was walking from the Rogers Centre at around 3-4 in the morning – I was wearing loose fitting clothes, a hard hat, and steal toed boots, I had just got off work. The streets were alive with people (going home or whatever) I must of had 50 men, from across the street, in cars, etc, – cat call, whistle and follow me for a little. They would say “love the outfit”, “love the Halloween costume”,”Want to get a drink” , etc. Well I got pretty angry real fast, cause dame! I was not wearing a Halloween costume thank you very much! Anyways after the downtown area I got to this tunnel, and there was this older women waiting at the corner, she asked me if I would accompany her through the darkish tunnel – I did. This older women was afraid of the neighborhood, afraid of this tunnel because it was dark. We got through without incident. This was a night of many experiences.
I still walk at night even though everyone I talk to tells me I shouldn’t and that it’s because I’m walking at night that I have men harass me, or they just flat out say it’s my fault. But to me I don’t see it like that, I am always smart about walking at night, and I shouldn’t be afraid to go outside passed a certain time, for I don’t live in a war torn city, or a city full of crime, I live in the 20th century Canada.
What I’m trying to say is the solution is not to tell Girls/Women/Females (in this part of the world at least) that they should just not go out walking at night. We should not instill fear of the dark in our young females. I have never talked to a male who has been told not to walk around at night. Why not instead of instilling fear into someone you give them another solution to the problem, something they can use – if ever they get caught in a bad situation,instead of a mind numbing stillness that occurs with fear. Let us stop being afraid of the dark, for darkness is just a colour, and instead shine the light on those that use the night for ill because we’ve told them they can.

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Story, Verbal

Keisha’s Story: “It’s hard for me to have the courage to stand up for myself”

I was dressed in normal workout clothes, jogging at the country club near my house in the off season when there weren’t golfers. There’s a chain link fence that divides the golf course from the road that runs parallel.

A car that was driving beside me on the other side of the fence slowed down and a man stuck his head out of the window. I knew what was coming.

“You lookin’ good out there girl!”

I had been so fed up with street harassment and felt safe enough with a fence between us that I just flipped him off and kept running.

“Why the fuck you flippin me off?” he snapped at me. I didn’t respond. “I was giving you a compliment, why you flippin me off?” he insisted.

“You’re being disrespectful,” I shouted to him.

“You’re the one who’s flippin’ people off, you fuckin white bitch. That’s what I think is disrespectful. Suck DICK.”

And he sped off.

My heart was racing by the end of the conversation. A chain link fence couldn’t stop bullets. My husband and I moved into a house we could afford despite our the student loan debt which meant we had to move into a new area.

I know it’s wrong to be harassed, but it’s not safe to confront harassers. I came home and told my husband and male roommate what I had done. They looked at me like I was stupid. “You could have gotten yourself hurt.”

*I* could have gotten *myself* hurt. If something had happened. It would have been MY fault.

It’s hard for me to have the courage to stand up for myself.

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Story, Verbal

Heather’s Story: “I don’t owe you anything…”

I went into a Walgreens last week to pick up a calendar I had made in the photo department. There were two young men in the section, one that worked there, and another who was trying to print something next to me. The man at the counter was helping me while I examined the calendar when all the sudden I heard the second man say, “Hey, I’m talking to you. You probably didn’t realize it but I am.” I just looked at him with a confused look on my face. He said, “I just wanted to tell you that you look very nice. Your outfit is really nice. I don’t mean any disrespect by that, I just wanted to tell you.” It was awkward but I just said thank you and looked back at my calendar. The man just kept talking though. He said, “I don’t want you to think I’m disrespecting you, I just wanted to give you a compliment.” The guy behind the counter shook his head like he thought the man was ridiculous but said nothing. In the end, the only way I could get the man to stop talking to me was to assure him that I took it as a compliment and that I wasn’t offended. Now that I think about it though, I shouldn’t have to assure someone that being creepy and weird is ok. Even if it is a compliment, I don’t owe you anything for saying it to me and I certainly shouldn’t have to reassure you that bothering me is ok.

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Story, Verbal

Becca’s Story: Holla-ing-back at construction workers

Yesterday afternoon, two construction workers took a long stare at my rear end when I walked by and one exclaimed to the other “Wow. That’s nice.”
I get this ALL the time. If I could walk by men on the street without them seeing my rear somehow, I would. Unfortunately, that’s impossible.
This time I was so angry after having learned about a friend who was raped by a massage therapist, that I turned to the men and said “Are you talking to me?” At first they replied “Yeah! Yes!”, very pleased with themselves. Then I loudly said “I do NOT appreciate that!” They looked shocked and were pretty much speechless. Then they tried to backpedal as if they hadn’t said something offensive to me, claiming “Oh no, I was just saying ‘Oh my god'”, as if it was just a passing comment not even related to me. I gave them a good long scolding and angry stare, and then went on my way.
I’m sure my scolding won’t stop these men’s behavior, but maybe it will make them think just a bit more about what effect their misogynistic comments might have on women. I hope so.

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Story, Verbal

Andrea’s Story: “Every woman I know in NYC deals with this”

If you’re a woman in NYC, without fail this happens to you every day. When I lived on the UWS there was this spot right by my apartment door where men congregated and they would catcall me every day. (It’s a basement level barber shop on W 83rd St. between Columbus and Amsterdam). There were days I didn’t want to leave. There were times I felt ashamed, or embarrassed. And there have been many many times I have felt unsafe. I have also been followed by men. What people around the country don’t realize when reacting to your PSA, is that in NYC everyone HAS to walk to get around. There is no way for women to avoid this. And as your video shows it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. I have been catcalled when I was dressed conservatively, on bad hair days with no make up, and in winter wearing a giant puffy coat. Across the board, every woman I know in NYC deals with this problem, no matter their background or appearance.

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Nonverbal Harassment, Story, Verbal

Priscilla’s Story: Harassed while studying abroad

I recently came to France to study for a single semester and the 2nd day I was here, I was walking down the street with my new roommate (she and I were going to get some food and chat to get to know each other) and this RANDOM guy (who I’ll admit, I didn’t even notice at first because he was shouting at us in French) started following us and kept calling “Bonjour, bonjour.. Bon midi… HELLO? Excuse me, hello?”. I only turned around once I noticed someone speaking English (as that’s what my ear is used to) and he caught up to us and started trying to talk in French. Long story short, I didn’t understand him but my roommate did and she was translating for me… he kept calling us beautiful, kept saying he wanted to talk to us, kept saying that he wanted to know where we lived, TOOK OUR PICTURE (which I’m pretty sure were showed the most uncomfortable looking faces), then said he was going to kiss us goodbye (on the cheeks – as this is French custom) and wanted our numbers. When we said we needed to leave now, he asked us where we were going and we just said “out for some food” and he even INVITED HIMSELF TO COME WITH US. We obviously said no. But, I felt so awkward and under pressure even though I refused to give him any of our information. So he insisted on giving us his number and was like “promise you’ll call me when you get a French number”. HA, sure, pal. First thing on my to-do list.

​Now, I’m not really used to that kind of thing because I’m not seen as a “conventionally” beautiful woman. I don’t have curves, I’m very petite. But this was insane. We were giving him very obvious signals that we weren’t interested and wanted to get away.​ I know that we stood our ground (to some extent) but we definitely should have been harsher and more firm. I guess that’s the patriarchal conditioning getting the better of me. Don’t wanna “let them down too hard”. I’m not a mean person but I don’t feel like men should find it acceptable to just approach women like that. Telling someone to have a nice day doesn’t seem so insidious to me, but all the other bullshit really gets to me. This experience in France so far hasn’t been repeated, but I was utterly shocked at how intense it was. I don’t want to feel like I have to look over my shoulder when I walk down the street because some dude with a self-entitlement complex feels like because I am female he deserves something from me.

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