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I have experienced street harassment. Last year, I walked past an Italian restaurant in Watertown, near Boston, when two men hollered at me from the patio. These men looked about 75 years old, and I was 16 when this happened. They told me, “Hey girl! Come over here!” I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I really felt offended. I hadn’t approached them or talked to them or anything, and yet it seemed that they saw a young woman and thought I must be a good target. I was worried about what they would do. There were no witnesses, so all I could do was run away. Thankfully, I haven’t seen them since. But the memory continues to haunt me.
My best friend and I were staying in Surfer’s Paradise in Feb 2012 and we were walking to our hotel room around 1:30am and this weird guy roughly 35 came up and said he just arrived here and wanted to know the best night club. He constantly tried to get us in his car. Was very scary. Be aware.
I was sweaty and gross walking to my car from the gym when a truck with two men in it drove behind me. One of them whistled. I was already in a bad mood and my blood was pumping from my workout. I turned around and flipped off the truck. This, predictably, elicited a, “Yeah, sure! Right now?” from one of the men. They were on their way to the Home Depot nearby, so I got into my car and followed them. As they were walking in, I rolled down my window and yelled at them, “It is not ok to speak to people like that! It is inappropriate, it is NOT OK!” One apologized, the other said, “Yeah it is.” I drove off.
I was at Walgreens when two men in the aisle made a comment about the size of my “buns” as I walked away. They also called, “Hey sexy,” at me as they saw me drive out of the parking lot. I felt disgusted and completely humiliated.
I was walking on a crowded street in midtown Manhattan when a man blocked my path. He said, “how you doin’, gorgeous?” I responded, “that’s street harassment! You should be ashamed of yourself” and then walked away without giving him a chance to engage further. Hollaback has taught me that I should call street harassment what it is since many people don’t realize that what they are doing is perpetrating violence against women.
I come from NYC where cat calls are bad, my comfort was there are people everywhere. Now I’m in Pittsburgh and I feel so vulnerable I don’t like to even leave my apt. I am always nervous walking, at bus stations, and on the bus.
Yesterday, when I was walking towards the train after a meeting in a gentrified and generally considered safe neighborhood in Brooklyn, a young white construction worker started harassing me. He was walking right toward me, arms outstretched, asking me where I was going looking so beautiful. This made me feel threatened and irritated–I was already in a bad mood.
“Women are not just objects to be ogled at.”
“Who’s ogling you? No one’s ogling you! I don’t even like white chicks! I don’t even like white chicks, you ugly bitch!”
“It’s mutual. Get a life! Get a life!”
Of course, those last two transcribed lines were largely yelled at almost the same time, but he did walk away defeated. I don’t care if I’m called ugly right after being called beautiful by a racist sexist construction worker. I felt empowered, and I hope that he doesn’t just assume one can harass any girl walking down the street–she might be a “crazy bitch” like me!
Construction men working on Jared Jewelers in the Target shopping center on Putty Hill whistling and waving at me and a number of other women walking to and from their cars.
I had parked a bit farther away from them and they still proceeded to call attention to themselves. Ridiculous grown men.
I am running with the gang – the rest of my university’s women’s cross-country running team. We’re warming up, heading along a downtown street toward the track for our workout. We pass a group of boys who look like fellow students. No one in our group acknowledges them.
They would have been just a few random strangers among the hundreds I pass every day, except then I hear some noise – garbled talking that I can’t make out, and what might have been a whistle.
And then I can make it out, can tell exactly what it is, and I’m furious but we’re past them and it’s too late to say anything without getting left behind.
I resign myself to doing nothing and moving on. But these guys aren’t done yet. The vocal one and his “pack” follow us around the corner, and I hear him shout “can I get a number ladies?”
Because clearly those of us on the VARSITY WOMEN’S CROSS-COUNTRY RUNNING TEAM have NOTHING better to do than stop to exchange contact info with some stranger in the middle of our workout. Clearly.
I keep running, afraid of what might happen if I stop – for whatever reason. And I don’t yell back, unwilling to start something and involve the whole team. But I refuse to roll over completely. Without even looking back, I raise my hand high and I give him the finger.
I don’t know if he sees, or knows what I’m trying to convey, but I feel better after taking some action. I doubt I changed anything today, but it’s not about that – it’s about there being a record of someone having said: this is not okay.
I was walking to campus from Walgreens when some guy with his hands shoved in his sweatpants pockets started following me. He followed me almost to the park, at which point I was basically running, yelling about how big his dick was and how much I’d like it. When he stopped following, he started calling me a bitch and an assortment of other great names. I’m just glad he didn’t follow me any further.