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A few days ago I was walking down the street after having lunch with my friends alone, singing some corny Lion King song and wearing an old sweatshirt and jeans that had not seen a washing machine in a long time. Some man with a beard hollered at me from his car, with immense aggression in his voice, “Let’s see those titties! Show them to me, you bitch!” the street was completely empty, and he had his head completely out the window staring at me. I totally would’ve started screaming and telling him to leave me alone, but he was not extremely rational, and I didn’t want to provoke him into coming after me. I am fourteen. I was singing Lion King and eating a giant sundae. Why do people think that because you’re outside you’re somehow part of the porn movie of their life?! Keep it in your pants, homies.
I am a rather conservatively dressed person. And yet today I heard the comment – ”you’re beautiful”. A nice thing to hear, but I know where this could lead – no stranger says this for no reason. So I ignored and tried to walk on. Looking down as to not engage in unwanted eye contact, my wrist was suddenly grabbed by this man. I felt anger more than fear. I hoisted my hand away and walked away quickly down the long empty street. This was in broad day light. I was sober – he seemed sober.
Comments I can ignore – but unwanted physical contact – why does this still occur in a ”civilised city”?
We’re all taught that we should at least feel safe at home. If we buy a home or rent a house, that property should be our haven, a place to live and relax.
Yesterday, I was taking advantage of that. As I was transferring seedlings into pots, a guy who was new to the neighborhood passed by, and we exchanged hellos.
Later, while I was reading in the sunshine, the same guy came around again, struck up a conversation. He was very polite, up until the point he grabbed my rear end.
I stepped back, said, “NOPE. OFF.” and pointed towards the sidewalk.
I think that reaction startled him, because he initially stepped back in a hurry. Apologizing profusely, he shuffled off, looking back at me as if he wanted to try continuing the conversation.
My glare told him just how likely that was going to be.
It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me, and it’s not the worst thing, either. However, it still left me feeling violated, angry and helpless.
After about an hour of stewing, I called the non-emergency phone number for the police. He wasn’t in sight anymore, and I only felt threatened by the uncertainty of “What if he comes back? What if he decides to try something else?”
I gave his description, told the operator what had happened and where the guy had told me he lives. Because I wanted to file a formal complaint, they sent a pair of officers over.
Since it wasn’t an emergency, it took a few hours for the cops to get here. That’s fine. Far worse things happen every day in this city. The two who showed up were a pair of young men.
Most police have a reputation of not taking sexual crimes seriously, and since this one was comparatively minor, I didn’t expect anything more than I got.
After I told my story, the one officer said with a laugh, “And you expect this guy to become a serial grabber?”
Straight faced, I replied, “No, but you know as well as I do that this type of behavior can escalate.”
At another point, he told me that other guys would have stayed and argued. To that, I let him know that, yes. I know that, too. It’s happened to me before, but I never made a report, because I didn’t think anything would happen.
His last try at minimizing the situation was, “Well, at least he knew what he was doing was wrong.”
If anything, that’s worse. If he knew it was wrong, why did he feel confident enough to do it? As a human being, didn’t that seem like a bad thing to him? How would he feel if it happened to a woman he cared about? How would he feel if it happened to him?
When they finally decided to take me seriously, they asked if I wanted a restraining order, which really, is all they could offer at this point.
I declined, since that was the first, and hopefully last, time I’ve ever interacted with that particular guy. If he does try giving me trouble, I will get one and I will keep a record of what he does. They told me that the fact they showed up would help my case if I have to take further action.
I felt a little foolish calling the cops on such a minor event, at first. The worst that’s happening on a personal level is a little more paranoia and anger on my part. I wasn’t physically hurt, and I haven’t seen the guy again since then.
The more I think about it, though, the better I feel about getting this on file. Harassment, whether that entails groping or anything else, is part of why things like rape and other forms of assault are so under reported.
Our culture has normalized that behavior to the point where victims are just expected to stand helplessly by.
I, personally, am sick of it. No, I’m not going to call the authorities every time some jerk whistles at me from the street or flirts lewdly with me in passing. If I did, I’d be on the phone almost every time I left the house.
What I am going to do is share my stories with anyone who wants to listen. When someone tries to get physical with me against my will again, I will make another report, and do whatever’s needed to get out of that situation.
Sadly, I say “when,” because there’s no “if” about it.
Moral of the story?
Don’t be afraid to say no, and if you can, report the incident to the authorities. Even if nothing happens in the long term, there will be a written record of the event and it will add up. Hopefully, that will amount to some change for the better.
My friends and I (a group of four 15 year old girls) were in the city (Perth, Australia) for literally 30 seconds before we saw a group of guys ahead leaning against pay phones staring at us and smiling in this malicious way. We got closer to them and they turned their heads to stare and smirk and made comments to each other. When they were behind us, I turned around and they were STILL staring!
The rest of the day went by without incident until we had to walk home from the train station at around 6pm. A car of men slowed down slightly as it passed us and a man said ‘heyyyyyyy’. As it drove away, i yelled ‘Yuck! Disgusting!’ loud enough for them to hear (it was a quiet street). I said to my friends ‘I hate that they do that’ and to my surprise one of my friends said ‘no, when I get a car I’m going to do that’. I was upset that she, who had only 30 seconds ago been harassed, would do this to other people. I tried to explain why it was wrong but she didn’t change her mind.
This happened today, I was walking in town to a cash point so I could get a bus home. Several men were sat outside a pub and started shouting at me to get my attention, when I ignored them they continued with “she’s fat anyway” “get to the gym love”.
Normally I can shrug these experiences off but this has gotten under my skin. My bus stop was near the pub and I didn’t want to go there because I was scared they would heckle me again. So I walked to the next bus stop because of these ignorant men.
The worst part is when I told my boyfriend about it, I pretended what they said was sexual comments so I still seemed desirable instead of “fat”.
I felt embarrassed and powerless, I knew if I responded it would have turned into a public slang match and I would have lost all dignity. The worse thing is my boyfriend said “it’s pack mentality”. Is being a man really an excuse for offensive behavior?
I was returning home after work, and in the apartment hallway two young guys, maybe 18 or so, catcalled as they passed me. I turned around and told them that was rude and inappropriate, that since I had more hair under my belt than they had years under theirs they needed to show some respect. It felt good to say something, even if they laughed at me.
A man followed me up the escalator and to the bathroom. He continuously commented on my legs. He kept calling them “strong.” Though he did not touch me, he was right up on my back the entire time and speaking into my ear. He dashed off when another person walked by us and then he watched me walk into the women’s restroom. When I left, he was gone.
When I walk around in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, I often hear men and boys say “Pssssssssssst” I usually keep walking and try not to look at them but once my friend had shouted, “Are you losing air?”
I live in a city, and I deal with street harassment on almost a daily basis, but I recently experienced a situation worse than usual. I was walking alone downtown around midnight on a Friday night. There were no other people around. I hear yelling from behind me, “I want to f*** the s*** out of your a**!” and other similarly sexually explicit/aggressive statements. I started to freeze up and panic inside, but refused to turn around and look. I followed my typical course of action (now a reflex out of practice): Refuse eye contact and keep walking until you are a safe distance away.
This didn’t work. The yelling grew gradually closer and louder. The voices became threatening: “You need to look at me when I’m talking to you!” and “You know you want this!” followed by more yelling of what they wanted to do to me.
I finally was able to see my harassers without turning around; it was several guys in a car. They left as I approached a less deserted/more populated intersection.
This can’t be explained away as a compliment, a joke, or drunken stupidity. I can’t be accused of dressing provocatively; I was simply a young woman walking alone.
Another ended badly. I was headed home from work, engrossed in a Stieg Larson novel, with my hair down, and wearing office casual. An open seat next to me was taken by a man, I’d say in his late 20’s. With the noise of the train and the distraction of my book, I didn’t hear him and therefore didn’t acknowledge him.
A few stops later, he moves to another seat, which is common on public transit. While on that same stop, another passenger timidly asks me if she can sit next to me. Before I can give her my affirmation, I hear a loud and angry voice saying, “don’t sit next to her, she’s a bitch.”
Incensed, I turn my head to demand an explanation from the not-so-gentleman now sitting two rows back. He begins to berate me for not talking to him when he was only trying to get my attention, etc. etc. typical entitled mating bullcrap. I yell back at him, standing my ground, telling him that I did not owe him anything and that no one told him to intrude on my day. I’m basically trying to put him in his place and he’s telling me I look cute when I’m mad.
About 20 minutes and 10 stops of shouting later, another passenger tells us both to shut up, I take this opportunity and turn back to whatever the girl with the dragon tattoo happens to be doing.
3 stops of silence later, he comes to me, apologizes and I, like an idiot, forgive him because I just want him to leave and never think about the incident again. Thankfully, I’ve never seen him again but the event sticks with me to this day.