Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I remember the first time this happened to me. I was in 7th grade coming home on the bus near the end of the school year. I usually sat with my best friend (a guy) and there had never been any problem with the three older boys who sat behind us all the time. That day my friend wasn’t there, and a sat alone with another girl across from me. Also that day, it happened to be getting pretty hot, but because of the dress code, I had to wear a jacket over my dress. Like any normal human being would, I took of my jacket on the bus.
Before I knew it, one of the boys behind me started to say things like, ¨Damn, nice tits¨ and ¨Glad your boyfriend isn’t here,” which in my position was pretty scary. I turned around and told them to fuck off, which got me the response, ¨Wow, that pretty little bitch has a vocabulary.¨ Not only was this happening, but one of the other boys sat down next to me. He didn’t do anything, but he was a little too close for comfort. After all of that, I told no one but the male principle, whose response was pretty much ¨boys will be boys.¨
I decided to take a walk to this 24-hour coffee shop down the street from my apartment to visit a friend who was working. It was late at night, so I was of course being careful and paying attention, but the walk is only about 2 blocks. I don’t want to be too scared to walk two blocks. But apparently, I ought to be, because on my way there some men driving by leaned out their windows and yelled, “Damn!!” while leering at me. I glared at them, and thankfully they kept driving, but I didn’t feel safe enough at that point to keep going to the coffee shop and then have to walk back later, so I just turned right around and went home.
I don’t understand the need of some people to assert the way they feel like that. Do they not get that it is an intimidation tactic? Or do they get it, and they think I need to be frightened? Are they just curious as to what the reaction will be? I really don’t understand why, because I’m a woman, I ought to be scared to walk two blocks down my own street.
My cousin is getting married next month, and I am unable to attend due to distance and money issues. I decided to go to the drug store on the way home from running errands to pick up a nice card for her and her fiancée.
On the way home I heard a voice shouting “Hey! Hey!” I turned to see a man in his mid 70s walking towards me. I figured he was going to ask for directions and waited for him.
He gave me a smile and said “Your summer outfit makes my heart beat fast and I want to f*** you!”
I frowned and shook my head “no.” When I turned to go he repeated it and began to follow me.
I flat out lied saying I had a boyfriend and he was waiting for me.
Even then he did not give up! He demanded proof of this boyfriend and asked why I didn’t have an engagement ring on? He wanted to know where I lived among other things.
Finally I said I had to leave as I had people waiting for me and got out of there. When I told the police about what happened they said there was nothing that they could do. They said it’s not illegal to talk to people on the street.
It makes me want to never leave my home. I’ve been harassed by men many, many times in this town. If I had the money I’d leave. I don’t feel safe here.
I experienced cat calling and construction workers making lewd comments towards me.
I’m 19 years old, out of school and looking for a job. I had made plans to go to several local businesses–a clothing store and a couple art shops–to look for a job. To show to potential employers that I’m a creative and unique person while still looking somewhat professional, I wore a white blouse with a steampunk-esque corset over it, skinny jeans and heels. I was feeling pretty confident and fashionable, but that didn’t last long.
Not even five minutes after leaving the house, I get a few wolf whistles. The further into the city I went, the worse it got. The catcalling began, with “hey shawty”, “hey baby” and “sup sexy.” This was coming from men between 20 and 60, mind you, and even a little 10 year old boy (if that) whistled at me. I was so disgusted, especially that it is so acceptable in our society to do that to women that even children that young are doing it. At one point, I passed these three dirty old men sitting on their doorstep, and each one of them made a comment, with the first calling me sexy, that second calling me beautiful, and by that point I was so upset that I didn’t even hear the third. Did they think they were actually complimenting me?
Then came the scary part. I’m always afraid that people in the city have guns that they might use to shoot people over the littlest things, because I see incidents like that on TV. Still, I took a chance. As I was heading back home, a silver car pulled up next to me and cruised along as I walked. My heart began to race and all I could think was, “Uh-oh, one wrong move and I could end up dead.” They said something I couldn’t understand, but I got the gist of it. I told them to fuck off, and the driver said, “Oh, you said you want me to fuck off? Feisty one.” I told them, “Not even in another lifetime,” and continued to walk. They lingered for a moment and then drove away, and I darted down the next corner, trying to distance myself from them as much as I could. I have never been so uncomfortable and frightened in my life. I can never feel safe in this city.
During the afternoon at Sydney Central Station, I was walking past the exit when a man said to me “hey do you want to watch me masturbate?” It shocked me at first, and I walked a couple steps forward before I turned back and saying, “Excuse me?!” in a disgusted tone. I was only able to glare at him for a couple of seconds before I kept walking. But I felt so angry and powerless that I couldn’t retaliate anymore because I didn’t have much time to react and respond. The place was busy and there were people all around us. I couldn’t believe this man could just blatantly say something like that.
I was walking back home, and a young man was standing in a corner with some headphones. As I walked past him, I heard him yell “Bonjour!” I looked back (I wasn’t sure he was talking to me because of the headphones he had, and it’s not the first time some tourist stops me to ask for directions on that street), even though his figure and tone made me uncomfortable. He looked at me and asked if “it was free of charge.”
I usually don’t react to street harassment and catcalling, and I don’t know where I got the courage from this time, but I just turned away, and kept walking while I gave him the finger. He started yelling at me, calling me crazy, a whore and all that. I kept my head (and finger) high until arriving at my place, which was just down the street. I’m really proud of myself for finding the courage to react, but I’m also very afraid. He has seen where I live. I’m too scared to leave the house now.
Scared of walking to catch the bus and walking home!
I am a 21 year old independently going to work via public transportation. As I was walking back home from work, this guy in his twenties stopped his white van in the middle of an intersection. As I was listening to music, he was try to flirt with me and leering at me. I got pissed off and told him to go fuck off and he said why do you have to be so mean and left. I felt so scared and uncomfortable.. I told my mom and she said all guys are like that! That made feel worse!
It happened a second time!
I was waiting for the bus to go to work and I saw that same guy pass by. He decided to turn around. As he turned around and stopped at the other side of the bus, he tried to flirt with me again, so I stuck out my middle finger at him. He said why you do you have to be so mean and left. Again I got so uncomfortable and scared…I felt like he wanted to do something to me like rape me…I was now scared to go walking alone.
The third time, I was walking home after getting off the bus. That same guy showed up again, this time on a bike.. he was trying to flirt with me again, and I screamed FUCK OFF ASSHOLE I’M NOT ASKING FOR IT! He said why do you have to be so mean. I was so pissed off, scared, and uncomfortable. It seems like women like me don’t feel safe! No one will care if a woman gets raped… thanks to this, how will I ever feel safe walking alone?
I am a cis-het white female and I acknowledge that 1) I have benefited, and still benefit, from white privilege 2) we DO NOT live in a post-racial society and 3) my experience pales in comparison to others’. But I think it’s important to share this story.
I’m new to the Atlanta area so when I caused the mirror to fall out of one of my side-view mirrors, I called up the nearest shop to order a new one. It came in at noon today, so I went over to pick it up. When I arrived, I noticed a large group of older men were in and around the entrance.
As I got out of my car, someone yelled something obscene at me. As I walked in the door, someone else made a crude comment to me. As I was waiting in line, someone else attempted to strike up a conversation with me, starting with asking where I was from. All of these men I ignored.
While still waiting in line for my new mirror, the last guy started commenting on my height, my hair, something about a “tall drink of water.” I was fed up and furious with all this unwanted attention so I turned around, looked him in the eye and asked him to “please leave me alone” in the most deadpan and unemotional voice I could muster. He pretended not to hear me, so I had to say it again. His response: “Racism is alive and well!”
I was so angry. How dare he turn the fault of this situation on to me. HE decided making crude comments towards me about my appearance trumped MY desire to go about my business and be left alone, which I made perfectly clear by not responding to him initially. And he took it for racism on my part rather than owning up to his own actions.
An employee rung me up a few minutes later, and I wanted to stay and ask how him I should go about installing my new mirror. But I was so angry and upset, and felt so unsafe, that I got out as quickly as I could. But not before another man tried to hand me his card despite me telling him “no thank you” repeatedly.
After experiencing street-harassment on a daily basis, and heavily researching it throughout the day, I’ve been feeling pretty inspired to speak up. I have another success story to share from this afternoon.
The past two days have seemed laden with honking, whistling, smiling, and other unwanted invasions of my personal and mental space. I work in an industrial neighborhood in Hayward, CA, and sometimes I could swear it’s a breeding ground for this.
And just because I feel that it needs to be stated and emphasized, I can personally confirm that IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOU ARE WEARING. YOU ARE NEVER “ASKING” TO BE HARASSED. Yesterday’s weather was stormy and cloudy. I was in a jacket all day, and still was harassed on the street. Today was warm and sunny. I was in a blouse, and was still harassed on the street. THERE IS NOTHING “WRONG” WITH WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO WEAR. THE HARASSERS ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT YOU.
I take a walk every day during my lunchtime, all in the same neighborhood, on the same route. Today included the usual startling honks, hollers, etc. that cause me to feel tense about every single car and human that passes by. It’s a feeling of bracing myself for impact. That’s really what it is. You never know when it’s coming, how long it will last, and how frequently it will happen during one “round” of walking outside of four walls, into public.
With all of the harassers being in passing vehicles, it was difficult to do anything other than give them the finger, or yell obscenities back. I don’t usually shout back, but I was feeling overly frustrated and objectified today. I even ran after a truck when the driver was stopped at a light, to write down the plate number. Enough is enough.
For the past month or so, there have been a group of men working in the gravel yard of a metal-structuring company. There are always massive metal beams that are being loaded onto truck beds, by the use of cranes and forklifts. These men have stared at me every time I’ve passed by since they’ve begun working there. I’ve walked by this place for over two years, with no incidents until now. They will literally stop what they’re doing and freeze, their eyes boring into me like fucking lasers, I tell you. And that smiiiile. I’m sure you know the one.
Today was different, because I got fed up with it. They’ve been saying things to me in Spanish (“Hola, bebe,” for example), and then pretending that they’re conversing with the other men when I look at them. They don’t know that I can understand them, and it’s hilarious.
I don’t remember what it was they were saying at me today. All I see are gums flapping at this point, to be honest. As I was approaching, I counted three of those smiles, and I couldn’t count the stares. One of the men driving the forklift closest to me said something as I passed, so I slowed my pace and stared back at them. Two of them continued to stare and smile, even looking through the gaps in the metal beams when I was out of sight for one split second. Since they continued to stare and talk at me, I decided to video-record them with my phone. I wasn’t actually recording anything, but they didn’t know that. The one in the forklift asked, “Oh you want a video?” To which I replied, “Yep!” and held the phone pointed at him. HE was now the focus. HE was the one being watched while he was simply minding his own business. He laughed nervously, looked away, and went back to his work. Not another word to or about me. For one second, I WAS INVISIBLE TO HIM.
Once I returned to my workplace, I called the company that the men work for. The receptionist listened intently to the problem I was reporting, and I could swear she sounded happy that a woman chose to speak up. I was then connected to the manager, who was incredibly understanding. It blew me away. He said, “Wow. Those guys work for me, so I’ll be sure to talk to them about this.” He even gave me his name and cell-phone number, and told me to call him immediately if this ever happens again. He apologized that this was happening to me, and truly seemed disgusted at these people.
Neither the receptionist nor the manager seemed aware in any way that this was happening. And that’s part of the problem. Workplace harassment happens out-of-sight of authority. These men knew that the manager couldn’t see or hear them, and they’ve had a field day with it. It’s a game of power-play that I chose to end.