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Walking down the sidewalk, I passed a guy who was panhandling. He said, ‘Why don’t you put a smile on that pretty face?’
I turned to him and said, ‘I don’t like it when men tell me to smile.’
He backtracked, saying, ‘I wasn’t telling you, I was just suggesting!’
We went back and forth a few times, and he eventually apologized.
I’ve seen the guy a few other times. Our interactions are now, ‘Good Morning/Have a good day.’
There was a group of kids hanging out after dark in front of the grocery store. As a woman came out of the store, one of them took a few steps towards her and asked, ‘Hey baby, do you want to come home with me?’
She didn’t say anything, but I saw her grimace as she walked away. As I passed the group, the guy said, ‘Hey baby, smile!’
I turned to face him and said, ‘Don’t call me baby.’
One of the other kids in the group, a girl, said, ‘Oh, he didn’t mean anything by it.’ We chatted for a few minutes and the guy apologized.
I was walking on Landover Road when a man in a white minivan pulled up behind me and honked.
After he saw that I had seen him, he pulled off the road, into the nearby shopping center, to pull up alongside me.
He yelled, “Where are you going?”
I yelled back, “Nowhere you’re interested in,” and didn’t stop walking.
After I had passed him, he pulled away and drove off.
On my way to work, I experienced street harassment as I do almost every morning. He walked up just behind me and said “I like that. You look good. Yeah, you look real good”. I said “I don’t like that”. He flew into a hot rage and said “I don’t care if you don’t like that, say thank you and shut the fuck up!” He threatened to beat me up, he said I’d better keep walking and followed me down the sidewalk. Someone came out of the same building and told him to leave me alone. I could hear him yelling things like “Go fuck yourself” “You think you’re better than everyone?!” and “Fuck you, white bitch!” for 2 blocks. This is why I so often say something. “Good morning” is great. As soon as someone starts commenting on your physical attributes, it’s not okay. All street harassment is about power and verbal harassment is on one end of a spectrum of sexual violence. It happens everywhere. It’s not a compliment. It’s dehumanizing and threatening.
A lot of people talk about how they are sexually harassed because of their beauty and how strange men want to have sex with him. But I don’t see a lot of stories about how cruel random men can be to women on the street. More than once, men have said things to me along the lines of “you couldn’t get this dick if you tried” or “damn she ugly” as I passed. Sure, there have been times where guys have said “damn girl, what’s your name? I said what’s your name?!?” And made comments about me to their friends, which is objectifying and demeaning. But there have also been times where boys I have never said a word to have destroyed my self esteem with one comment about how un appealing I looked. I don’t know which is worse.
I’ve never had a problem being open about my sexuality, however, when I’m in public with my girlfriend, something is always said. One time we were at the mall, and someone said “I’d like to join you two dykes in bed”. We just kept walking. We’ve also been followed and people say things about needing real dicks in our lives. / I was alone, and when I said “No, I’m gay.” The guy said, “not after you suck on this dick.”
Last night I went to use the bathroom in a pharmacy across from the train station quickly before the next train came to go home. I was already anxious being a young vulnerable girl taking the train home alone at 11:40pm, so my mind slipped and I had left my keys in the bathroom due to rummaging through my purse on the sink and didn’t realize until i was about to cross the street outside of the store. Beforehand, when I walked in the store I heard and employee say “what THE fuck” and I wasn’t sure if it was towards me until I ran back into the store to get my keys I left in the bathroom. I heard him say “what THE FUCK” again and when I had come out of the bathroom going down the aisle to exit the store, he was talking shit about me with another coworker and a customer saying “oh yeah, that’s a man alright” “ew” and similar remarks. I was a bit appalled that these cashiers thought they could just treat a customer like a zoo animal. I went up to them and took their picture but I was already shaken enough so I took my phone back down too quickly and all I got was a total blur :(. However, I did catch the name of the rude bystander cashier that was with the man who was harassing me by the name of “ROXY” sadly I couldn’t catch the harasser or his instigating coworker’s name tags. To add insult to injury after taking the pictures they patronized me saying “damn HE’s got the hots for you”. I hope something is done about this I’m in the process of contacting their supervisors/managers and hopefully be taken seriously bc this is disgusting and the last thing any person, let alone a frequent customer deserves to experience on their day-to-day business.
I work at a building community next to a large produce market from the port. To get coffee or lunch, I often have to walk through the market while produce is being loaded, unloaded, and purchased. Nearly every time I walk through this area, I am harassed by whistles, catcalls, winks, and sometimes followed to my destination. Most of the time I ignore them, sometimes I make a point to tell someone if they should be ashamed of themselves for making women feel unsafe. Sometimes I even laugh at them really loud and make a point to make them embarrassed.
A few weeks ago, I was walking home from picking up groceries and by the time I neared my apartment building, my fingers were red from the cold and aching from carrying my heavy groceries 7 blocks. I grew impatient when a group of two men (construction workers) were walking rather slow in front of me and taking up the whole sidewalk. I said excuse me so they they started to move out of the way when one of them turned around. He stopped and said “Hey there, I’m sorry. Happy New Year, baby.”
This is the second time a strange man has infantilized me in my neighborhood in the three weeks that I’ve lived there.
I used to ride my bike almost every day, and almost every day, men would express themselves towards me as I rode. They’d shout at me from their car windows as they drove by, often incoherently, but sometimes I’d catch the word, “sexy,” or “baby.” Sometimes they’d honk their horns (not a euphemism) as well, or simply honk their horns and keep their loud mouths shut. Pretty standard stuff.
Except I was only fourteen years old.
It was my first year at a new school. I was young and innocent, and I’d only just started liking boys maybe a year or two earlier. I’d never even held a boy’s hand, let alone kissed one. But there I was, bombarded with sexual evaluations of my budding body from grown men, many of whom were likely old enough to be my father. I didn’t want that kind of attention from grown men. Not only were the sounds themselves extremely annoying, but the easily inferred intent behind those sounds was very intimidating to me at the time, and all I wanted to do was get home or to school in peace. But the truth is that I was starting to look like a woman, and those men couldn’t tell that I was just a child in passing. I know that must have been the reason, because I never got that sort of attention from grown men at that age when I was face to face with them.
So that’s something to think about: That “woman” you’re gawking at and calling “sexy” may actually be a child.
This is actually an excerpt from the blog I wrote about the video Hollaback made that went viral a few months ago. You can read the rest of the blog here: http://therightwinggeminist.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-catcalling-video-commentary.html