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During my “year out” backpacking through Europe, I left the hostel with a daypack and was strolling down the street where food and things were for sale. I was eating a banana (my breakfast) and 2 Mid-Eastern men said (in fractured English for my benefit), “She’s so fat, she eats a banana.”
Well, not only was it ignorant of my situation, but that they said it so I’d understand it infuriated me. But I pretended I didn’t hear and continued on my way. It still bothers me even though I ended up losing almost 90 pounds during that year, just by walking everywhere and eating healthy “picnic-style” for most of my meals.
I was going for my 5pm run. I walked passed a guy in his mid 30s, he asked me “When will I see you again”. I gave him that disgusted look. It seems that he didn’t get the point.
While I was out for a run around 4pm, I decided to cross the street at a crosswalk so that I could run on the nearby college campus (less cars, less people, sources for water). When the it was my turn to cross the street, a large SUV started creeping into the path of the crosswalk. I turned to give them a dirty look because I wanted to convey that I thought it was unsafe to be creeping into the crosswalk towards pedestrians. When I turned, they rolled their window down, whistled at me and made a kissy face. I just shook my head and took off running. It made me question my decision to wear a tank top and spandex workout pants. But I am wearing those things for comfort, not to have my body judged. I was just out for a run for my own personal health and I did not want any sort of attention.I hate that is how it made me feel: that I disliked being outside or made me reconsider what clothes I was wearing.
A man driving by me and two others (one of which was a minor) shouted “nice ass” out of the window of his car
I was walking from my apartment late one morning to get to class. It’s a 10 minute walk from my front door to my desk. That day, I was slumming really hard, I don’t care what I look like for a 10 am algebra class: black gym shorts, grubby t shirt. My apartment is on the corner of the intersection. I was about halfway through the intersection when a car suddenly turned left onto the street I am crossing. The driver stopped his car right in my path.
“Where you goin looking like that, you wanna come with me?”
When confronted, my first instinct is to become combative, and this was no different. I screamed at him: “get your f*cking car out of my way, it’s none of your business where I’m going.”
“Aw baby you ain’t got to be like that,” he said as he pulled away.
Ok, dude, you ain’t got to block my path with your whole entire CAR as I’m walking to class. I don’t CARE how short my shorts are.
And this is but a single instance. Where my neighbors were protective and kind, the men who hang out at the corner store were vocal enough about harassing my roommate and I that we began to take a different route to leave the neighborhood. Getting on my bike was impossible without some dude saying something to me. Young teenagers half my age would hit on me on the street, in this neighborhood, street harassment is par for the course.
I got to the gym every week day morning at around 6AM. I can say that I’ve never had issues before at this particular gym…I just put my headphones in, lift, run, and leave. No one has ever bothered me before. This morning, the sun was shining through the windows and I could barely see while putting away my free weights. Now, I do have blue eyes and when the sun hits them, they can look very light blue. A man lifting weights next to me said, “You’re eyes are beautiful!”
I replied with, “Thank you.” and continued to choose weights and go back to lifting. But before I could he said, “What are you doing lifting here? You know a man loves him a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.”
I was repulsed and didn’t know what to say. So I put my headphones back in, smiled, and started to walk away.
Then he said, “You got a man?”
I replied, “Yes.”
He said, “Is he here? You lookin for a man.”
the entire time his eyes just scanning me up and down. It was SO uncomfortable.
I put my weights away and walk to the other side of the gym to get away from him. About three minutes later, he’s at the machine next to me! Still looking at me and making comments.
I decide to just go to a treadmill surrounded by people and run. I felt so uncomfortable that I left the gym after about 15 minutes of running.
You would think that would be all. There is a grocery store next to my gym that I frequent and I needed to pick up a few things. I went directly from the gym to the store to pick up coffee beans, Milk, and a protein bar. Within 5 minutes of being in the store, I see the man again in the store! I quickly grab my things and walk out.
This was absolutely inappropriate, made me feel so uncomfortable, and frankly, unsafe.
It’s not a compliment. It’s harassment.
Group of ~10 guys in the city park drinking, one of which is making a point to go out of his way to come up to women and shake hands or give high fives.
I sit down to eat my sandwich, and there he comes (I think he missed me on the way in because he was busy bothering someone else).
“Gibberish gibberish (in Dutch)”
“I don’t speak Dutch”
“Hello, will you shake my hand please?”
“No thank you”
“What? Please? Everyone else has.”
“No thank you.”
“Are you a friendly person?”
“Please leave me alone.”
Offers fist pound. “This is all I want then I’ll leave you alone.”
“You can leave me alone right now.”
He gives a look of disbelief but departs.
~15 minutes later, another member of the group comes up. He says hello and offers me some food. I say no thank you. He says “What do you want?” He says this to me. I say “I want to be left in peace to eat my lunch.”
~15 minutes later I walk past the entire group, as they are near the entrance. I hear in English “I like that one, but she’s very impolite.”
Kept on walking. Desire was to eat in peace and not be wheedled, whined, shamed, or harassed into interacting with anyone I didn’t feel like interacting with. My free will and desire is not negotiable.
I have been dealing with harassment since my teens (now late 20s), mainly by men who think honking, yelling, or directing some sort of comment at me is the way into my pants. However, I experienced the biggest violation on my way to work one day this summer.
I ride my bike through a slightly sketchy part of town in the morning to get to my job- it’s about a 10 minute ride. This particular morning I was riding and out of the corner of my eye I saw a car get close to my bike on the left side- so close that I thought it was going to hit me. As it came by, a teenage boy stuck out his hand and grabbed my butt while I was still riding and while the car was moving toward a stoplight. He even yelled out a “woo!” as it happened, to the delight of the 3 other guys in the car. Dumbfounded, I sped up trying to catch them…the crazy part is, they went through a red light and illegally went around traffic to try to get away from me. A few lights down the road, I gave them a profanity laced scolding and I took their license plate number down. I sure hope the cop that talked to me gave the groper a speech to remember later that night at his parent’s house.
Invasive pat downs are always in the back of my mind when I fly. I can’t relax until I hear the engines start up.
So, going through PDX security alone and having a TSA agent stop me by the first class lane, look at my id and boarding pass, and ask “You first class or just beautiful?” scared me. I was kinda shocked and said “What?” maybe a little sharper than I needed to. He quickly handed me back my boarding pass and id and waved me over to the line I’d been heading for to begin with without saying anything else.
I was terrified I’d be subjected to a pat down (groped) because I’d been snippy with him and maybe embarrassed him. It’s a miracle I didn’t look suspicious to someone just because I was scared of that happening.
First I should explain myself and how I’ve come to realize unwanted attention is not OK. I live in the South, where ladies are said to be gentle, and I know they put up with a lot of crap. My mother always loved unwanted attention from men, she flirted back and fed off of it.
I myself am much more modest and uncomfortable with such encounters. I grew up thinking it was OK for the attention and that I should bask in it and consider it a validation of my attractiveness and womanhood.
Fast forward to present day. My sister and I decide to go out one weekend for drinks and dancing with our Dad. Two men join our table that dad knows from the bar he frequents. They seem harmless enough, but one constantly lies to me about his age and agonizingly comments on how beautiful I am. No conversation had.
Dad leaves, my sister and I decide to dance, leaving said men at the table. All of a sudden the guy who lies about his age comes up behind me and starts dancing. (Note: I hate dancing with dudes. It’s gross). I try to move away and he immediately smacks my ass. It’s over, but I’m enraged. I give him a verbal lashing how that is never OK and force him to apologize. Although I did get an apology, I have a feeling he didn’t get the message.