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I was 12 years old when I was sexually harassed for the first time. It was at a public event. I was seated in an auditorium and couldn’t get away. The incident involved verbal comments and touching. The harasser ignored my requests to stop. When I spoke up about what happened I was reminded that I was thin, had blonde hair and blue eyes so I should probably get used to it as “boys will be boys”.
These sorts of incidents have played out time and time again throughout my life. These days I wear a few extra pounds that I have come to realize are for self-protection. I’ve learned that if I dare to lose a few pounds and dress nicely, the harassment will begin again.
I also understand why men feel under attack by this campaign. I don’t believe most men engage in this sort of behavior. At the same time we need men on our side to help send the message that this sort of behavior is not funny or harmless and is certainly not “a compliment”.
On Saturday night, I went to a beautiful concert downtown Seattle with six of my closest friends. The gorgeous venue and music made me feel alive and free and full. On our way back to the car a couple of blocks away, we were verbally harassed by a car full of men catcalling to us out the window, talking about our body parts, etc. This went on for an entire block. The evening had been so perfect. I was pissed that even a small portion of the evening with my dear friends was ruined by being forced to endure a verbal sexual assault at the end of our night.
I work behind a bar so take your pick! Last night a couple of lads shouting ‘stop staring at her arse’ to each other so I could hear as I was taking lights down from the ceiling….then the obligatory ‘bye gorgeous’ and sleazy wink as they left…. An older man at the bar holding onto my hand for what felt like forever while repeatedly telling me how beautiful I am and that it’s nice ‘to have something to look at’ for a change….
Was cycling on the road in Glasgow and a car full of four men went by me too fast and too close while they all hollered at me from the car. The one in the front passenger seat was leaning right out the window and whooping at me.
In my country, verbal harassment is, unfortunately, very common. For me, it started when I was 11 or 12. At that age, I was terrified of walking in front of construction works, because I knew that the cat-calls, the whistling and the shouts wouldn’t stop. I felt like an object every time someone call me like that, and now, as the 16 years old I am, it has only became worse. I was walking to buy some chips and a soda, in a not-at-all revealing outfit (like, jeans and a sweater) and in that really short walk, 5 men stared at my ass, some even try to talk to me, asking me if I was single or something like that. Some of them could have been my grandparents! I mean, they don’t have sisters, wife or daughters? They would like that some creepy man would shout something about her boobs or ass, like it was the weather? It’s so unfair that we had to change clothes twice or thrice times, not because we want to look better or something like that, but because we know that if we wear shorts or a tank top, some perv would take that as an invitation to shout how “good they would feel in bed” or “better you would look naked”. How I wish I have made up those lines, but they are true. My friends, cousins, mother, aunts, sister and every woman I know has experienced that and we’re tired of all these. Government, authorities and media can’t talk about equality until this stops. It’s not like we’re asking for impossible. It’s not like harassment is a right that man have to feel manlier. Machismo starts at winking, and it can end in worse things.
I was walking home at around 8pm at night when a man in a van slowed down next to me and whistled out his window, asking me if I wanted ‘to go for a ride’
I was standing at a crossing waiting to cross the road when a guy turned around and said “Nice!” to me, and then took a photo of me on his phone and walked off.
A few months ago I was followed and harassed by a man on the street. He verbally harassed me and did some very displeasing noises while he walked nearby. This went on for a few blocks and I kept telling him to stop, but he wouldn’t. The street was relatively lonely and I felt nervous and very angry. Some people on the street saw what was happening but did nothing; if anything, they looked away. When I finally got to a main road, I saw a policeman and decided to report what was happening. The policeman looked very confused and asked the man what was happening, to which he responded that he was just giving me a compliment. I told him that I had asked him to stop several times and that sexual harassment was a crime. The policeman kept doing nothing; he just asked for the man’s ID. I was feeling really angry and impotent, so I caught a bus to go home. When I looked outside the bus window, I saw the policeman letting my harasser go. I felt even worst than before, I was frustrated and a part of me felt that what I had done was wrong.
When I told my friends about wat happened they tried to be comprehensive but some of them made me feel like I had overreacted. They made me feel guilty and exaggerated.
A few days later I was walking on the same street (It was very near to my workplace), and I ran into the same man. He recognized me and started calling me names and saying “report me again bitch”. He insulted me from a distance and shouted really demeaning and hurtful things at me, such as “I will fuck you, whore”. I tried to defend myself but got really scared that he would hurt me physically, so I tried to walk away fast. Two men were going by while this happened and didn’t to anything, they just stood by and looked down, although this man was clearly threatening me. I told them that they could have done something to help me and they just ignored me. After this happened I felt really helpless, depressed, nervous, angry and scared. I cried all my way home, thinking that I should never have reported this man; If I had walked by and ignored him nothing would have happened. I knew, rationally, that I hadn´t done anything wrong, but I felt so guilty and foolish. For the next few days I felt terrified to walk to work and run into the man again. Still, sometimes when I walk through this area I try to make myself unnoticed and I feel really nervous. I know that I did the right thing, but I was silenced and now I look dow when I walk near there. And this makes me so angry. Public harassment is real, it happens almost daily, it is hurtful, and it needs to stop.
I was walking in the parking lot of my boxing gym (which I started going to partially because I want to be able to protect myself) after a workout. As I was crossing the lot to my car another car drove by and I heard someone yell out the window “heyyyyy Babyyyy.” I have called men out for catcalling many times in the past and this time would have been no different. As I turned to say something, I saw that the person calling out to me was a preteen boy yelling out of the back window of his parents minivan. I was so shocked that they start them that young, I couldn’t even form the words. I can only hope that his parent disciplined him or at least explained to him that what he did was wrong and why. I took to social media to vent about what had happened, and while most people were equally appalled some people thought that it was “cute” that a little kid did it. I can see how that might be cute, kind of like when a little kid curses, but its just a sign of how much this is a societal problem. Kids start catcalling at a young age because they see other people do it and don’t see how it can be damaging to others and nobody explains it because “its cute” and then they grow up and do it as adults, and that is definitely not “cute.”
One morning on my way to work, I got on the bus and was the only person on besides the bus driver when a man gets on and sits directly in front of me in the back of the bus. Although I had my headphones on I could hear the man trying to get my attention and motioning towards me so that I could give him my full attention. Thinking I should probably be cautious, I moved my seat and sat directly in front of the bus driver under the impression that if anything were to happen the bus driver would protect me or at least ask the man to get off the bus. This was not the case though. The man followed me to the front of the bus and began to yell at me and laugh maniacal. At this point I was terrified, yet the bus driver still did NOTHING. My stop finally came and I attempted to walk towards the exit, only to have this strange man attempt to follow me off the bus. I then took a step back looking at the bus driver with no prevail, but the man then sat back down and I got off the bus only to have the man get off on the next stop. Thankfully it was as though God was on my side and it began to rain very hard and the man ran opposite to the direction I was in. This experience has left me completely traumatized and in the realization that I am not protected in the streets and not even on public transportation, which I have to take every single day.