I was 8 months pregnant with my baby girl, on my way to a weekly pre-natal appointment at my clinic. I would take two buses to get there. The second being on Chicago and Franklin. Although I ride the bus everyday I have to say, when I have to walk this particular street alone, even in broad daylight I get anxious. I live in the the not so nice part of South Minneapolis. So I get off the first bus and wait to cross the street, standing next to an older, (let’s say 40’s) greasy haired, fast talking man who also got off the same bus. He turns to me and starts asking the usual questions I’ve answered a million times the past 8 months, “How far along? A girl or boy?” I politely answer him with a smile… which I honestly regretted immediately after.
Yes, I regretted having common courtesy and politeness because he took it as an invitation to violate my personal boundaries that I assume everyone has, and stepped closer to me. Then he comments on my pregnant body by saying something about how I must have been “eating a lot of cornbread and collard greens.” It gets very hot during the summer months here in Minnesota and I was wearing shorts and a tank top. Not that it matters much but I got the crazy idea that maybe people wouldn’t be as interested in harassing a pregnant lady in shorter shorts, seeing as how I got even hotter than usual, carrying an extra body and more blood inside me as all.
I begin staring at the light willing it with my mind to change when he asks me “Can I touch your belly?” Without any hesitation I say “No, I do not like being touched.” Before I can even finish my sentence he reaches out and puts his big dirty hand on my belly and takes no time to move it downward.. I push his hand away and start walking across the street and he follows right next to me. Before I can take 5 steps I hear my name! I turn around, right in front of the bus, and see my friend Jessica. The greasy asshole stops too and tries to get me to keep crossing the street with him by warning me of the idle, giant bus, as if I didn’t notice it..
I walk over to her and she walks with me across the street. Funny, he lost interest in me when I was with my 5 foot 10 friend, her children and her friend. I felt angry… I’ve been raped a total of 4 times in my 21 years, assaulted many more. Why is it I don’t have a right to my own body? Why was I ignored? I felt the most beautiful and respectful of my own body being pregnant with my baby girl. To hold a life inside me, I felt gave my body and life more meaning.
Why did his actions and violation anger me more than my previous assaults? I am a Native American woman, I grew up in South Minneapolis, in modern society, without a father, brother or even cousin to protect or teach me what my mother couldn’t. I was and still am seen as vulnerable prey, my mistakes came with such a precious and great cost. I was only 15 years old when I was first raped and sexually assaulted. I was in a physically, sexually and verbally abusive relationship for 2 years. This was only a very small part of my story. I just want to be heard.
I was walking up onto Oxford St when this scruffy creepy guy tried several times to intentionally step right into my path and block my way. After sidestepping twice the third time I physically shoved past him hard with my massive shoulderbag, he shouted something unintelligent but left me alone as it was really busy about. He went on his way hopefully to take a bath.
A guy, mid-30s, dark blonde hair, wearing a tech Network-embroidered shirt and carrying a tech Network-emblazoned backpack, hopped on my relatively empty train (headed in the direction of the business’s main building at rush hour) and chose, among all of the empty benches, the one directly facing me and then aimed his knees so they touched mine.
When walking into a store in Sacramento, a worker approached me and told me that I “better not steal anything”. I am Hispanic so I found it incredibly rude & irrational as I was only looking at some makeup, and did no such thing to provoke her comments.
I just got cat called to by 12 year olds. That is wrong on so many levels.
I was walking home from work when a group of college-aged guys drove by. One of them yelled “Pussy!” out of the car window.
Then just a minute later, I walked past an older man getting something out of the trunk of his car and he looked me up and down and said “Heeeeeeeeeeeey.”
Here are the “highlights” of my day yesterday:
I had three men catcall at me (“Hey baby,” “Hey little lady,” “hey pretty girl”).
I had two men I don’t know at all wave at me accompanied with a smug face.
I also heard a whistle.
I heard some mansplaining at work also (“Why don’t you smile more? You would be so much prettier if you smiled.”)
Here’s the stupidest part of the whole story- all of this happened in my car. I didn’t even look particularly cute yesterday. This just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what measures you take, men who catcall at women are pigs.
On a sunny Thursday morning at 10am, I was walking my bike to the bike shop. A guy walking toward me stepped to the side to, I believe, let me pass but instead he stared at me and said, “Smile. Smile!” I said, “don’t tell me what to do, asshole.” So he stood there screaming, “Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!” Until I was a block away.
I was on my way from to Duane Reade at around 8pm, and this man who was sitting near the edge of the side walk started shouting ‘Hey Hot Stuff’ repeatedly. I had just moved to NYC this past Saturday, so I’m not really used to this stuff. I’m overweight and not very attractive so at first I didn’t realize it was even directed at me. I had completely ignored the offender, I heard them call me a bitch under their breath as I passed. It made me uncomfortable even when I thought it wasn’t directed at me.
I had to walk past them on my way back to my dorm. This time I had my phone out but I could tell they were snickering. It just left an all around bad feeling in my gut. I don’t even think I was dressed proactively, Just a knee length jade dress with some white lace trim and sandals. I think that’s what made it even more unnerving. If it happens again I think I’ll report it to Security.
I was waiting at the light rail station on Tukwila International Boulevard, a very troubled stretch of road near Sea-Tac Airport where there’s been a rash of seedy motel activity in recent years. On my way home from work, I had just gotten off the train and just missed my bus home, so I had to wait half an hour. I used to walk home from there because I love walking and it’s only two miles, but walking there by myself proved extremely dangerous and stressful. There is literally CONSTANT harassment, not a moment’s peace. And not just harassment but stalking and following.
A man in his 20’s approached me, and welcomed himself to sit right next to me in a plaza full of empty seats. He had one of those fake gold teeth, pants belted around his mid-thighs with his flannel boxers on proud display. I have never, ever, ever understood the appeal of this.
“Hey girl”, he said (of course). “Hi”, I said (sheepishly and making a point to appear busy with my phone). He asked me if I would join him on the 128 to the Admiral District. I cringed. That was my bus. I told him, politely, that I was engaged (at the time), flashing my ring for added credibility. He smugly declared “Girl, that’s not real! I’d get you a real one!”.
I was a little fed up with his ego. I said “Really.” flat and sarcastic. Not that it’s anyone’s business, but after doing my research, I directly asked my now-husband to get me a stainless steel, cubic zirconia ring, because it’s still very durable and I can’t make sense of spending thousands of dollars that at the time we didn’t have for something that’s value should be largely sentimental anyway.
Mr. Underpants kept going on, about how my fiance must have been a cheapskate, how a fine-ass bitch like me deserved diamonds, and how if I had a brain I would leave my husband and get with Boxersface (you can see that the underwear thing is a hangup for me).
While I do realize that the reason we women must reveal our relationship statuses because the only way to nullify strange mens’ “ownership” of us is to already be “owned” by a man, my relationship has very serious, significant meaning to me. I have only been with one man (which was not a religious decision), and, ever since, I have never had one iota of interest in going out with anyone else. The thought doesn’t even occur to me, whatsoever. Men=not interesting. So having a man, not to mention one who belongs to a subculture I’m PARTICULARLY turned off by, tell me that my relationship is meaningless to him and if I don’t let him destroy it, I’m “stupid” is in actuality a personal attack on my independent life decisions as a woman.
So I told him, “Gross, you’re gross, leave me alone”. And he said “Bitch, you’re just such a fine bitch, I just wanna show you how a bitch like you is supposed to be treated”. So by now, I’ve been called a “bitch” about sixteen times in my entire life and every last one was by this guy. I don’t think I want this guy to teach me how I’m “supposed” to be treated.
Thinking I was finally going to tell one of these losers off, I took a deep breath, and was interrupted by “Hey, what’s going here? Leave her alone, she doesn’t have to put up with this.”
I looked up and saw an older man, maybe in his 30’s, with a lovely wife holding a lovely little girl with might I add, the most adorable little afro. Think Blue Ivy =) Never you mind how he was dressed because his character is more the issue here, though I feel compelled to share that he was apparently confident that people would know he was wearing underwear whether they saw it or not. I thought, there, look at that, THAT’S a man. Of course, Pantyman mouthed off to him, told him to “Stay out my business.” Funny. Staying out of other people’s business is a virtue for wannabe homewreckers, I guess.
I thanked the family man. He offered to trade seats with me (at this point all the seats were now full). I was so grateful that I gave his family the leftover cookies that I had baked for my coworkers that day. He gave the seat to his wife and child, though, and stood right next to them (what a guy). From across the way, I could see and hear the man lecturing (insert underpants-related nickname I can’t think of any more of here). I was completely sold.
And finally, the bus came and the jerk thought we could reconnect or something. He was saying, “C’mon, c’mon, just go home with me one time, your fiance doesn’t have to know!”. I said “Are you kidding me?”. He said “What? What? You can’t have your own life? Your fiance doesn’t let you kick it with other dudes? What are you, his pet?”. I said… “Are you kidding me…?”…
And then, suddenly, everyone in line to get on the bus started putting him in his place, telling him to give up, leave me alone… He kept trying to bother me on the bus and the driver made him sit in the back. He raised some civil rights argument, and had the nerve to compare his lowly self to Rosa Parks (fighting for his right to harass women is totally the same thing as fighting for equality, not like, the opposite or anything), and I’ll admit it was a tad awkward, but no one else seemed to be offended.
Ultimately, it was both an exhausting and wonderful experience. Having so many people come to my aid was amazing. So often this kind of harassment goes totally unnoticed. In fact, in areas like Tukwila, you can be so surrounded by jerks that they’ll all just cheer a harasser on. It was great to see that there are people on that street who are willing to say it’s not okay.