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I have a pair of thigh high boots that I love. They make me feel like a superheroine, these boots. I put them on and I instantly feel kickass. It’s such an awesome feeling. Some days, these boots are my shield against all the terrible, shitty things in the world. They’re my reminder that I have the power to make a difference just by being me.
They also attract a lot of negative comments.
One day, I was getting on the bus when an older man started muttering to himself about how I was dressed. You know the drill – hooker, streetwalker, skank, whore, slut. For a few moments I felt utterly paralysed. This guy was old enough to be my grandfather. What was the play here? What should I do?
I turned around, I looked at him, and I asked, “I’m sorry, did you have something to say?”
He couldn’t even look me in the eye. He turned away, muttered something about me minding my own business and shut up.
It was the greatest feeling in the world.
I’ve experienced a lot of street harassment no matter how I’ve been dressed. But that one time, on that one day, I was able to stand up and do something about it. I was in a safe space (a bus full of people in broad daylight going down a very busy main street) and I was able to say something that disarmed the person harassing me. And goddamn, it felt so good.
I’m sharing this story in the hope that people will read it and feel like when the time is right, they can stand up and say something too. You don’t have to endure people’s rude comments – you totally have the right to holla back! And when you’re able to do it, it feels so great.
It’s happened several times in Old Town Pasadena. Mostly by men handing out advertisements, I’ve experienced such things as “damn those are some nice pants” and stare downs by several men. It’s severely embarrassing when there’s hundreds of others around you in this shopping area. The ridicules are obnoxious and I wish the verbal harassers who work in these stores would receive some kind of discipline or punishment for this slander. There’s no respect for women here.
I have had several disturbing experiences with street harassment. My most recent experience is as follows:
Last week I was exercising at the track around the corner from my house. I noticed a man loitering around between where I was exercising and the public toilets close by me. He was there for a long while just watching. I didn’t think anything of it and walked home with my music turned up loud on my ipod. A few minutes after arriving home I decided to go to the store. Outside, I noticed a couple of police cars but didn’t think anything of that either. As I neared the store, two police men walked toward me from a side street. They stopped me, telling me they were waiting for me to pass and needed to talk to me. They asked me, “have you noticed the man following you?” I responded that I had no idea and that I had my music on really loud. They asked, “has a man approached you this morning?” and I said no, no one had. They then proceeded to tell me that I must be extremely careful and alert all my friends that the man who was following me had been reported by several people, loitering around my house, and that he had been masturbating on the street.
It is frustrating to not feel safe doing a regular, everyday things like exercising and going to the store. What’s even more frustrating is some of the reactions to my experience from some of my close guy friends. Things like, “I can’t believe the police caught me!!” or “I know I shouldn’t laugh but that’s hilarious!” or “If that were me I’d take it as a compliment” or “You must be flattered.” Are you kidding me? THERE IS NOTHING FUNNY OR FLATTERING ABOUT BEING FOLLOWED BY A FREAK!
In southern Holland, Carnaval is a big event sort of like Halloween minus the trick or treating. It’s basically a big party where everyone wears costumes, but it takes place throughout a large section of the city.
I’m studying here and decided I wanted to go, since it was one of those typical Dutch things I didn’t want to miss. I was with 2 other exchange students, and at the end of the night, we were walking back to the train/bus station. I definitely felt the alcohol at that point, but I wasn’t wasted or anything. Anyway, it was dark but the street we were on still had people scattered about. It wasn’t completely deserted. A man I’d guess to be about 30 physically grabbed me and blocked my path after calling to me and my friends and getting ignored. He started making kissing noises in my face while puckering his lips, his group of large male friends in the background laughing. I remember being terrified of what might happen and giving him a quick peck on the lips before running away, hoping he’d leave me alone after that.
No one did anything to stop it. One of the girls I was with even laughed while penalizing ME for kissing him, despite the fact that I did it solely out of fear that he’d hurt me if I didn’t. I changed the subject, but was reduced to tears the second I’d gotten home and had the chance to think about it.
I was sitting outside when a guy I knew stopped by to chat with his girlfriend. A man was passing by and stopped and told my friend that his girlfriend was “hot” and that he was lucky. He said “damn!” then turned and looked me up and down and said “How YOU doing? and stared at me as he walked away. It was wholly inappropriate.
I’m a university student studying abroad in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.
It was 10am on a bright, sunny day. The street was empty except for me and another woman who was ahead of me and walking the same way. I was on my way to the airporter bus, so I had my luggage rolling behind me.
This creep walking the other way sees us coming. Despite the empty street and the sidewalk so wide you could park a bus in the width, he get’s that small, leery smile and sneering eyes as he squares his shoulders and intercepts out path. Both me and the other woman veer sharply out of the way. My suitcase, however, catches him in the ankle with the wheel.
Made me feel a bit better.
Another time, I was reading on my campus grounds at around 11pm. A really drunk guy comes up and starts asking if I have a boyfriend, where I’m from, if I spoke Chinese, etc. When I don’t understand some of what he says, he touches my crotch. When I go to walk away, he makes a grab for my boob.
It’s made me a little leery when random men sit next to me just to speak English.
I told my roommate this. She said that some men once came to her and told her that she should be cheaper because she was small. My other roommate had a 40-year-old-ish guy kiss her on the lips after she had been nice enough to give him directions someplace.
I was driving home from an errand with my younger sister in the car. A guy in a giant pickup truck that said “GDM Electric” cut me off, not once, but twice. The second time he did it, he nearly hit my car, so I honked my horn.
I was stuck behind him at the stoplight, and while the light was red, he got out of his truck and walked over to my car and started screaming at me, asking what the hell my problem was, etc. I just glared at him until he got back in his truck.
I wish that he’d been run over while he was walking on a busy street in traffic to threaten me and my sister–he deserved it.
My wife and I went to a show at a club last night hoping to have fun. Instead I was assaulted by some idiot; my ass was grabbed and I was pushed down stairs. I approached club security for help. Instead of help I further harassed, asked how much I’d been drinking, and asked if I knew I was at a ska show.
The security staff told me that these things happen at shows. I told him that’s no excuse, I didn’t come to a show to get groped. As a result of this, I got kicked out of the venue. So I called the cops, hoping someone would help me find the guy who groped and pushed me. Instead of helping me find the guy who assaulted me they gave me attitude.
So I waited outside trying to id the guy myself, and a collection of security guards and cops led me back into the venue, put hands on me, and made a big show of kicking me out again. So I called the cops again and asked for female officers to respond. So two male officers responded and got all mad I asked for females and refused to give me their badge numbers and names. They refused to speak to me saying I was irrational and yelling.
Additionally I was subject to further harassment by another security member; he catcalled and taunted me as I stood on the sidewalk. For the record I was freaked out and crying, not at all irrational. The actions of all of the so-called professionals last night was a sorry sight. Yeah, I’d heard stories about the bad behavior of “Bostons Finest” but seeing is believing for sure.
Walking around through town, some guy looks me up and down. I looked at the ground and he walks off shouting “cheer up”. I was cheerful before he turned up!
Three times now, when I’ve dropped my little sister at Elementary School, I have been “hit on” by students there. All were boys under ten. One boy stared at my chest and tried to touch me. It made me feel filthy inside.
I know this is very minor compared to what other women have gone through, but these were children! They are getting it from somewhere. It has to stop!