I work in the Financial District of Manhattan, a male dominated environment to say the least. As a female professional in this area, I am dressed in business attire daily, and I am frequently the recipient of verbal commentary and gestures on my walks to and from work, as well as on my walks to and from picking up lunch. Today on my walk back to the office from lunch, a man walking with a co-worker turned around as I walked by and yelled “Hey, how are you gorgeous?” and of course, I kept my head down and kept walking. To my utter disbelief, I then heard his friend say to him, “Come on man, have you see that video with the girl getting cat-called? You’re not helping our case.”
As feelings of satisfaction and purpose and joy overwhelmed me, I felt I had to share here to make it known that you are TRULY making an impact. Even if it remains this small–and it won’t–it was remarkable to hear this man calling his friend out for the unsolicited “compliment,” and it’s all because of this movement. THANK YOU for what you are doing, and thank you for spreading the message in a big way.
I was riding the A train downtown around 9AM on my way to work, holding onto the metal bar which situated me directly in front of 3 sitting individuals. Specifically, my body was facing was an older man who was sitting reading a newspaper. When we arrived to our first subway stop, I felt what I thought was the outside of his fist- very lightly- run up the inside of my thigh. I remember thinking “was that what I thought it was?” and looked down find him still inconspicuously reading his newspaper. I quickly dismissed attributed it to the corner of his newspaper. Either way, these things can accidentally happen on busy subways in close quarters. The next stop was Fulton Street. Before I could move out his way, he stood up and as he did he ran his fingers all the way up the inside of thigh. At that moment, I knew the first incident wasn’t his newspaper– it was intentional. I remember thinking “okay, that was a little close for comfort” and watched him step off the subway car ahead of me. I walked up the stairs and jumped on the up escalator. The escalator was so packed that morning leaving no left hand walking lane. So I stood still the whole way up. Just as I am about to reach the top I felt something on the inside of my thigh run all the way up to my butt cheek. It took me a second to register that it was a HAND! I turn around to find the SAME disgusting man from the subway!!! I probably flew about 3 steps forward before turning around and giving him the death stare. I wanted to scream & humiliate him for what he did.. but I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. So instead, I RAN as fast as I could. That morning was extremely traumatizing. I was scared to ride the subway for weeks, especially during rush hour, and I became paranoid that I would see him again on my morning commute. It’s taking me a little time, but I have become so incredibly self aware because of this. Word of Advice to ladies in NYC: when the subways are busy, always check your surroundings (in the front and the back of you). People will take advantage of the close quarters whether its touching you, taking camera pics under your dress or skirt, or just plain standing too close for comfort. Always be cognizant of what’s happening around you on the streets and the subways. Most importantly, if something like this happens to you, MAKE A SCENE- SCREAM, YELL anything you can do to bring attention to yourself. Don’t let the person get away with it. Every so often I cave with the catcalls and lash out at the guilty person. Sometimes, I get attitude back and other times laughter, but most of the time the dudes are silenced & dumbfounded by response. “Yes- I talk. I am a human being not an object.” I can’t find the strength to respond every time, but when I do.. it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.
While running early one morning in Barcelona I realized I ran by a massage place that offered for 1 hour at 25 euros. I thought it was a great deal, but it wasn’t open so I decided to take a picture of the opening hours and name. While taking a photo a man with a shopping cart passed me from behind and slapped my right butt cheek with his hand. I was fuming, but I didn’t say anything. He was laughing sinister like, and I just prayed for God to bring justice to him one day.
I have only lived in San Diego for 6 months and I have already had some experiences that have made me very uncomfortable to walk home from work in my “safe” neighborhood. I’ll start with the least disturbing occurrence and go on from there. I was on my work, sitting outside of Starbucks with my nametag on. A man said “You should smile, Hailey.” I think it was just because I was sitting alone minding my own business. Another time I was walking past this Starbucks when I followed the gaze of two men (one young, one old) as they checked me out from behind. The older man asked “what ethnicity are you?” to which, I didn’t respond and continued to walk, upsetting them. They became upset.
Here is where things get really messed up.
It was a hot night and I was wearing a short, yet long sleeved dress. My boyfriend and I were walking home when we had come to a stop to wait for the light to turn so we could cross the road. A suspicious looking man was waiting for a different light. He had a large jacket on, glasses, a backpack, and his hands in his pockets. Once he saw us, he immediately started laughing and moved to our side of the street. My boyfriend and I decided not to risk waiting with this man, so we turned around and began walking quickly in the opposite direction. We started running full speed when the man yelled “That’s right you keep running!”
Another occasion, I was on my lunch break again. I was walking past the grocery store when a man with a long beard approached me and asked if I would have sex with him. I looked him in the face (as you should do with suspicious characters) and continued to walk. He began screaming hysterically “of course you don’t want to have sex with me!, why would you want to have sex with me!? Come on!!!” To which I looked back and responded by telling him to fuck off. Maybe not the smartest move but, this was a busy shopping center in the day time. I immediately called the police and let the ladies at work know what he looked like. The police said they could do nothing unless he actually physically assaulted me.
This is possibly one of the creepiest things I have ever experienced. A man comes into the store where I work quite often, we will call him Jeff. He appears to be a man in his 40’s. I am a petite 18 year old that looks more like I could be 16. One night just before close, Jeff comes in and mentions that he had just seen me at a specific grocery store. I thought that was very odd because I hadn’t been there for around 3 weeks. I thought he might work there because I do shop there on my breaks and the employees talk to me. Turns out he didn’t work there. Jeff comes in again a few weeks later and gets something for his daughter. I help him find it and ring him up at the register. He begins to ask me questions about my job and make general but, invasive small talk. A few minutes after he leaves we get a phone call. I pick up the work phone. I recognize his voice. He introduces himself as the “bald guy” I just helped and asks if this is a good time. I figure it’s something to do with work and say “of course, how can I help?” He asks me if I’m single! I say no and that I have to get back to work and hang up. What!??? I let my manager know.
University employee (presumably from Facilities, as he had a university jacket) stopped working to tell me “Smile, baby!” He was working with several other men. I had earbuds in, which he pro a l I gave the man a disgusted look and walked away. The man apologized in a “oh, I’m sorry you were offended” manner.
My friend and i went to our local community centre to see a friend of ours that was performing. Remember, my friend and I are only 16. We were both dressed wearing simple simple modest clothing that was not tight or revealing as its still winter and its cold at night. We left after our friend had played and walked about 5 minutes down the street to McDonald’s. On our way we were stopped at traffic lights and 2 cars had drove past and honked their horns and were catcalling at us out the window. We didn’t let this phase us, continued to trek McDonalds, ate our food, and left.
As we are walking back the same set of traffic lights we are stopped by two middle aged men, we try keep our eyes on the destination, ignore their stares and not seem phased until one of them tries to high five me and hold my hand, this was really awkward. They compliment us and ask us where the nearest liquor store is and if we could walk there with them, we denied, said a polite goodnight and kept walking. We were both really scared at this point because silly us go walking alone at night, we’ve already had men stop us and we aren’t even halfway back yet.
So we’re about 2 minutes away, the centre in plain eyesight, 2 drunk men are approaching us, we move to the opposite side of the footpath, even contemplate crossing the road, I decide we would only make the men offended and angry if we did that. I whisper to my friend not to make eye contact, keep walking and do not seem phased by them.
They stop us, slurring, speaking to one another about our appearance and what they would do to us if they got the chance. One of them even says to me “no offence to your friend or anything but i’d totally root you” (this is typical Australian slang for sex) For me personally, it was one of the scariest nights i’ve ever had and i could only imagine what other women older and prettier than me go through on a night out. I felt dirty and downright disrespected having men I don’t even know comment and say disgusting sexual things to my face. I could also honestly write that if i had said what was actually on my mind instead of a simple “ok, thats enough, have a good night guys” me or my friend would have gotten verbally/physically assaulted or raped.
This needs to stop!
Growing up in Los Angeles, from the time I was in my early teens I could not walk down the block with out getting cat calls by men . I would get cat calls from old men, young men , teenage boys etc. As an attractive female I felt trapped that no matter where I went i would get verbally harrased and in some ocassions stalked. I did not always live in the greatest of neighborhoods in Los Angeles, my family was low income and my transportation was public transportation. While standing at a bus stop or even a stop light, men would pull up their car next to me and try to pick me up as though I was a prostitute. I could not even begin to tell you how many times I was cat called and hollard at while I was a teenager going on to my 20 s. Its unbelievable what being an attractive female is like living in a big city. The attention that these men displayed is not the kind of attention that I wished for. I could appreciate a compliment here and there , but to hear them everyday on a regular basis really starts to affect ones mental state and at the end of a long day a woman doesn’t feel beautiful, she feels like a piece of meat .
As an avid runner, I wanted to go for a longer run today as it was nice out. I put on a race shirt thats a little to big for me and my leggings (most comfy to run in) I then began my run. I usually run in residential areas, but today I ran into town. I was heading into the town just running as usual when the first car honked. I disregarded it. 10 minutes later, another honk. To top it off I was outside starbucks on the sidewalk with other people. It was a slowish area due to a yellow light when a car drove slowly next to me with two men in their late teens/early twenties. Note: i am 15. I had my headphones in so I couldnt hear what they said, but one of them leaned out the window with a big grin and started saying something. I just ran away. I was scared. I’m 15 years old. I shouldn’t have to be afraid to run outside of a starbucks at 3:00 in the afternoon.
It’s not just one event, being harassed happens to me as often as I wash my hair. For every day in Neukölln I walk the streets freely and assault free, there is another where young men, old men, guys in groups, fathers with their children walking beside them, comment my appearance, insult me, tell me to have sex with them or grab my butt. In 99% of the cases I don’t dare doing anything because the people who witness the assault and my response would attack me and support the offender! Of course I hate being harassed, but I fear for my safety if I do anything.
This was several years ago now, but my freshman year of college I would commute by walking down my street and catching a public transport bus to campus. On three separate occasions while walking home I was catcalled at. The first time was from two guys in a car going the same direction as I was (so they didn’t even see what I looked like from the front), and the passenger stuck his head out of the window as they passed, trying to get a better look at me, and stretched his arm towards me as if asking, “What, you’re not even giving us a response?” The second time I was walking on the other side of the street and I got yelled at from the passenger of a car coming from the opposite direction in which I was walking, and that made me even more tense since I saw them more clearly than the other guys. The third time was from a school bus with middle school-aged boys who yelled, “Nice ass.” In all three cases I didn’t outwardly react at all because I was afraid of provoking them further, but I felt extremely uncomfortable, angry, and confused-on none of the days had I been wearing anything even remotely revealing, tight, or “provocative,” though even if I had, that would not have been any excuse. The middle schoolers made me particularly angry and sad because it showed how these harmful behaviors and views of women are being pushed even at young ages.
The saddest part was when I complained about the catcalling on Facebook, and a female friend of mine said, “You should be flattered ’cause it means you’re attractive!” This is by no means the kind of attention I want, nor the type of people I want to be attracted to me, and telling someone to be flattered by harassment is absolutely the wrong response to harmful ideas and actions concerning women’s sexuality.