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Guy walking by me on Fort Totten Metro platform: You are so pretty. You sexy too.
(I give him the stink-eye. He keeps walking.)
Harasser: I was just giving you a compliment.
Me: That’s not a compliment.
Harasser: I just said you’re pretty.
Me: That’s not a compliment.
Harasser (walks back over to me): I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.
Me: When you comment on a woman’s looks without her asking you, it’s disrespectful.
Harasser: It was a compliment. You’re supposed to say, “thank you”.
Me: That’s not a compliment. When you comment on a woman’s looks without her asking, it’s disrespectful, it’s not a compliment.
Harasser: Where you from?
Me: I don’t have to talk to you.
Harasser: When someone gives you a compliment, you’re supposed to say “thank you”.
Me: That’s not a compliment when you comment on a woman’s body without her asking you.
Harasser: How many women you think ask “How do I look today?” Next time say thank you.
Me: No. It’s not a compliment.
(Harasser starts to walk away)
Harasser: Just because you pretty don’t mean you smart. Think before you speak next time. Dumb bitch.
I’ve been harassed on the street many, many times, and it felt good to respond in that moment. But he got the last word. Until now.
My best friend and I were at Union Station taking photos for her school project when a man yelled across a large aisle to us, asking if we were photographers in an obviously mocking voice. We immediately became hesitant, but I answered and said we were just taking pictures for school. He then came closer and asked us if we’d take a picture of him, we told him some reason why we couldn’t and he followed us as we headed to the ballroom area, asking us questions the entire way. When we got back to ballroom entrance, we found that we were completely alone with the man, who was easily 4 years older than us and 50 pounds larger. He asked us if we had boyfriends, if we wanted to hang with him and his friends, have a drink, etc, and when we said no to all of it, he said something along the lines of “Y’all are good girls then, huh?” and stepped closer. I don’t remember what made him leave, but finally he wandered off. We haven’t been back there since, but if I do go back, at least now I’m old enough to carry the pepper spray that would have helped me feel safer in that situation.
In August of 2011, my city held a “clean commuting challenge” to encourage people to walk, bike, carpool, etc. to work. Having recently moved from a city where walking was very much a part of my lifestyle, I was excited for the opportunity to get into the habit again — exercise, fresh air, saving my gas money. So all week long, I walked the one mile each way to and from work. And I felt great.
But on Friday, everything changed.
I was about a third of the way home when I crossed the railroad tracks, and a young man came out of the barbershop nearby. He watched me pass, whistled, and said something derogatory. I ignored him and kept walking, as I always did in such instances. But this time was different. This time, he followed me, and continued to “talk” to me, with increasingly angry comments. “Too good for me huh,” “White girl with her nose in the air,” and some other, more personal things too profane to repeat here.
I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I had no mace, no self-defense training. Didn’t know anybody in the area yet. Cars zoomed by on Grand River Avenue, but nobody was paying any attention. I felt completely powerless.
Finally, he stopped talking. But he kept following me. I tried walking faster. He sped up, too. I tried slowing down to let him pass me. He slowed down, too. Finally I turned down my street, thinking he wouldn’t dare turn and follow me, not with an elementary school right there on the corner. But the schoolyard was empty, and no one was around on my street. And he kept following me.
A few doors down from my house, I walked up the driveway of a neighbor’s house and hid behind it, imagining that he would think this was my house and his little game would end there. I waited, watching the time. Five minutes passed. I peeked out from the side of the house — and there he was, standing on the sidewalk, arms folded. Watching me. Waiting.
I finally called 911 and when the police came, he tried to run away. They caught him and took him in, but had to let him go the next day. I was told I couldn’t press charges because he hadn’t actually done anything to me.
But he did do something to me.
I never walked to work again. I never felt safe in my neighborhood again, or even in my own house — as close as I was to the street, I kept imagining he, or someone like him, might be waiting outside for me.
Eventually, I moved to a different neighborhood. But I still don’t walk anywhere by myself. And I feel angry about it. A man can walk around practically anywhere he wants and have no fear. But a woman has to be told, has to feel, it’s not safe.
It’s not fair.
I was leaving a store, and I saw a man staring at me, sitting in his car parked next to mine. Then I realized he was masturbating. Called the police; by the time they got there he had stopped. They didn’t even file a report. I would have liked to press charges, but I don’t know who he was, and they didn’t bother to take down his info.
I am a small town girl in texas. During the summers and winters i go down to mexico to visit family. Everytime i walk down the street i hear men whistling at me. My friends think its so cool to be recognized like that yet i feel threatend. One night coming out of a dance club( we did not drink) 4 men approached us asking for our number. We felt very uncomfortble so we started to walk off and they kept following us. My friends and i felt so threatend that we start to walk faster. Then i felt the man’s arm around me. Earlier that year at work this guy showed me a few self defence moves ( which i thought were useless because i never thought i would use them.) one of them was how to flip a person on their back (i felt like a spy when i learned it:)). I put my leg in between his and with all my might i flipped the guy on his back. The guy hit the pavement hard that he didnt get up. My friends and i ran straight home. Its been a year since that encounter. I think im still a little paranoid. All i have to say for my girls out there is that we are strong and no person will ever hurt me again!!
I have had so many instances of harassment its ridiculous. I’ve been asked, “Hey Slut how much?” while walking my dog and wearing sweatpants to having men twice my age yell, “nice tits!” at me to having a guy come up to me and tell me, “with boobs like that you have to be a porn star.” I naturally have a larger bust and I don’t want to feel like it automatically makes me a slut. It makes me feel powerless and angry. It got to the point where I started yelling back at men who screamed obscenities at me and they always respond with some horrible insult when I tell them to leave me alone. My friends and family have told me not to do so because the guys could retaliate and hurt me. I don’t think its fair that because I happen to be a women I have to let men harass me because they are physically stronger and bigger than me. Its gotten so bad sometimes that I dont even want to wear makeup or dress in a nice outfit when I am going to be walking because I dont want to be harassed. I take a lot of pride in my appearance and I dont want that to be taken from me but I dont want to draw attention to myself that will lead to harassment.
The worst incident occurred two Halloweens ago. I was out celebrating in costume with three friends. We were leaving a bar in Hollywood and walking to the lot where we parked the car. A group of five guys came up to us and started harassing us and telling us we should go home with them. We politely responded we were just going home and to have a nice night and they started calling us whores and one grabbed my friends butt. She told him to stop and he said he would “Do whatever the fuck he wanted.” I had a soda in my hand and I turned around and threw it at him. I kept walking when I realized one of my friend wasn’t with me. She was being punched and kicked by two of the guys. I ran over to help her and one of the other guys punched me in the chest and jaw and then started running away. I called 911 and chased the guy who hit me for four blocks. The other guys ran. The police pulled into the parking lot as one of the guys came back and was running into his car. He was arrested but they never found the other four guys. My friend had choke marks on her neck. One of the guys told her he would, “fucking kill her.” She was eight weeks pregnant at the time and suffered a miscarriage most likely due to the blows to her stomach. I was very afraid to go out at night for a long time because I was so scared of being assaulted again.
Since I was 12 and first started jogging on city streets, I’ve always encountered leers and comments. I’ve jogged in suburban neighborhoods of Silicon Valley, the capital of Costa Rica, Paris, San Diego CA, etc. As your research bears out, I perceive it to be a simple fact of life and my only response has either been retreat or anger. As a 12-16 year old, I would often yell back my age, hoping to expose to the adult male that he was my father’s age. My older brother believed I was exaggerating the extent of the staring and sexual comments, that perhaps I was flattering myself. Until, one day he ran with me. He was utterly shocked at how watched and violated he felt after experiencing the level of attention I received. He had an entirely new perspective on how poorly women and girls are treated in public, even with a chaperone. To this day, (25 years later), I will still reflexively flip off anyone who whistles or slows down to stare, etc. It sometimes makes me so angry I will chase after them and hit their car with my fists if they are forced to stop at an upcoming stoplight. I fully understand that some are raised to think that calling out sexual comments is a compliment, but I don’t think they’ve thought it through – to have every single moment on a public street be an invitation for being sexualized is simply not fun.
This actually happened to me multiple times, at the same mall: I go there with two of my cousins and my sister, and I don’t think there was ever a time when we were NOT followed. Once we were followed into a cafe and the stalkers just lurked outside — we had to wait an extra half hour for them to get bored and walk away. Another time we were literally being chased — we had to go into a big supermarket and weave through a bunch of aisles and go to a different floor ’till we finally lost the stalkers. Another time a bunch of guys caught up with us on an escalator and one of them tried to shove a slip of paper into my cousin’s hand! At one point we had to get the security involved, but all they did was tell the stalkers to stop following us, which was ineffective. I wish I could go to that mall without being harassed, for once. The thing is, it’s the only good one (in terms of shops, restaurants, etc) in the city.
I was on the bus with a friend of mine in broad daylight going to the subway. At our stop we got up to walk out and these two men were sitting by the doors. As we were standing there they started making comments about our clothes and our bodies so my friend turned around and told him to f*** off. They did not take kindly to this and started calling us terrible things. One of them came very close to us and said “you don’t appreciate my compliments, fine, you deserve this” and he dumped his water on both of us. At this point we had expected someone to intervene but nobody did. One man asked if my friend (who was now in tears) was ok but the other people on the bus just grumbled about the water that had gotten on them. I was so shocked at what had happened that I turned to him and said, “do you know how old I am?” and he said “you’re a stone cold b****” and then got off the bus. We followed and stood outside the station and as he was walking away I said “I’m fourteen” he turned and gave me a disgusted look and then walked away. Now both these men were probably in their mid to late 40′s and they hadn’t even shown the slightest bit of remorse when they found out they had just harassed two teenage girls. Before this I didn’t feel safe going places in my neighborhood at night, but now I don’t even feel safe going places during the day.
I was attacked this morning by a man: Keep yourselves safe.
This morning while walking to my car to get to work I passed two men on the street standing on a corner. One man made a B-line for me while the other called out to him, “Don’t go over there.” The man did not listen, he sped up to me, and grabbed me. I screamed, “Let go of me!”, he did not listen. “Stop!”, he did not listen. “Let go off me, get your fucking hands off of me!”, he did not listen.” I yelled, “Somebody help me!,” the man nor his friend listened. I kicked and yelled with no result, “You are just going to stand there while your friend attacks me. Help me!” The man grabbing me stared me down, he could have been drunk or high or whatever but he stared me down and made gestures to his pants. The other man slowly crossed the street coming up behind the man, “There are things you don’t understand,” grabbing his friend off of me. I immediately ran away towards my car and began to cry.
I am so violated and shaken.
This has never happened to me.
I hate this man. I hate his friend.
I hate my terrified screams.
Please keep yourself safe.