I grew up in a small town of 1500 people, it wasn’t really an everyone knows everyone kind of place, or if it was I didn’t notice because my family minded our own business for the most part and didn’t do much socially in town. I was maybe seventeen and I was pumping gas at the only gas station we had. It was spring I think, I was wearing a pink top with short sleeves and jeans and a grey jacket. It was warm out so I started taking my jacket off when some guys sped past me down the main street and shouted “Ow!” out their car window at me. I had my back to them but I didn’t turn around because I was sure it was just some high school jerks making fun of me. I didn’t feel like I was attractive enough to merit an “Ow!” just for taking my jacket off so they must have been making fun of me. I didn’t turn around because I wanted them to think I didn’t heard them, I didn’t want to give them any satisfaction, not that it mattered, they had already driven away. It didn’t upset me too bad at the time, I didn’t feel like I was a particularly pretty girl back then but I wasn’t really bothered by my plainness. I didn’t feel demeaned or harassed, some guy was being a jerk and then he was gone, that’s all. I didn’t know I’d remember it forever as the first of many catcalls I would hear over the next decade or so but that’s how I think of it now. As an introductory lesson to gritting my teeth and ignoring the harassment I would soon experience on a regular basis. It didn’t start for me in the big city, walking near a construction site in a short skirt, or running in the park in a tank top. It was a small town of 1500 people and I was taking my jacket off.
I was nineteen and I had an apartment in the city about a half hour from home. It was my first place of my own and I loved living alone, I have always craved independence. I didn’t know a lot of my neighbors, I kept to myself. One day I was walking to the mailbox, just about five minutes from my front door. I was wearing jeans and a purple shirt with short sleeves and a flower embroidered over the left shoulder. A car went by me driving too fast, and a middle aged person (I can’t bring myself to call him a man because he isn’t one) put his head out the passenger window and bellowed at me “Whoo! Hey, girl! Look at them titties!” I was nineteen. I was a teenager and a middle aged person had just loudly and publicly commented on my breasts in the rudest, grossest way possible. I didn’t ignore him, I couldn’t, I turned and watched the cowards speed away. I was just shocked. I wanted to put a rock through their window. I couldn’t. They were gone. There was nothing I could do. Its been ten years and I still think of that day, that guy, the thing he said to me, how I wanted to call him out, hurt him, break his car. How even if he hadn’t sped away I wouldn’t have done any of those things. I would have turned my back, gone home. I was nineteen and he was bigger than me and scary. I was a few steps from my mailbox, there was a man there checking his mail. He said “That wasn’t very polite.” No it wasn’t. I was so embarrassed. I agree, “Yeah”, I said. I went home.
I was twenty seven and had lived and traveled around and pretty much heard it all. The honking horns, the drive by shoutings, on the street, on the bus, on my bike, strange men commenting, hollering, commanding, Hey girl, hey beautiful, you’re gorgeous, nice dress, smile, smile, smile, nice tits, nice legs, smile, you’re hot, where you going, wow, smile, where you going, I’ll take you, sweetheart, baby, shorty, great body, smile, honey. And I’ve been ignore, ignore, ignore, ignore, ignore, for years I’m ignoring. FOR YEARS I’m ignoring. But this one day, this one guy, this one fucking guy really put me over the edge. I was walking to the bus stop, I was in a good mood. I had injured my leg a few weeks before and was finally off crutches and happy to be walking again. It was daytime on a moderately busy street and I was crossing when a truck stopped, he was friendly. “Where are you going? I’ll drive you.” I was friendly, too. “No thanks, I’m not going far.” I was wearing a yellow tank top with denim shorts and sunglasses. I passed by his truck, I was walking away. He said “Your tits really bounce when you walk.” My middle finger shot up over my shoulder without missing a beat, without turning around. I’ve heard this shit before, asshole, you’re not ruining my day. I was walking away. He said sarcastically, angrily, “Yeah, I was really gonna rape you in the ass.” I was walking away. It was daytime, I wasn’t scared but I was mad. What if this wasn’t a busy street on a sunny day? What if it was dark and empty? Then I might have gotten in that car, I might have been put in that car. The anger in that person’s voice because I didn’t get in his car, it was like I had robbed him of something he deserved. I will never forget his rage, his childishness, his entitlement. He wasn’t my first harasser or my last but he sure gave me something to remember him by. I told some friends, I never forgot, I found some support, found some women like me, I found out that most women are like me but a lot have it worse. I found out I’m done ignoring and I’m looking for solutions.
I was twenty eight, I was walking home, the ATM wasn’t working, I was frustrated. I was wearing a jean skirt and striped yellow halter top, I was sweaty and gross. A truck went by, honked his horn at me and turned into the gas station across the street. Not today, guy. Not today. I barely waited for traffic to let up before I crossed and made a beeline for the red pickup. He was watching me approach, I don’t know if he was happy or scared to see me coming at him. “Hey, did you just honk your horn at me?” He got really flustered. “I was just saying hello.” he said ” You’re very pretty,” I told him that’s not a nice way to say hello, that its so rude, I should be able to walk from here to there without hearing that. He was apologetic, embarrassed. I felt a little bad after, it isn’t his fault no one ever told him women are people and deserve to be respected, not honked at. Then I got mad at myself for feeling bad because a grown up person should know better and it is his fault. That was the first time I ever confronted a harasser but not the last. I wish I could say I had confronted all of the ones that came after red pick up truck guy but I haven’t. Most of them drive away, a lot of them are bigger than me, I’m almost always alone when it happens. I flip people off more than any other small town girl I know. Sometimes I ignore still. But if I feel safe enough, if they stay in the area I try to call them out as much as possible. Maybe some of them will listen and one less woman or girl will have to endure one less holler. Or maybe it just makes me feel better. Whatever, fuck these guys.
Yesterday, I’m twenty nine, riding the train, a drunk man is talking a woman, asking her if she has a boyfriend and when she’s going to dump him. He asks to sit next to her but she says she’s getting off the train. I wonder if that’s her real stop or if she’d rather walk than sit next to this guy. After she leaves he slurs a conversation with another young woman who is being more polite than I would. When its his stop he puts a hand out for her to shake and when she gives him hers he brings it up to his lips and kisses it and then rubs her head like she’s a dog before he exits. She looks a little shaken, runs her fingers through her hair and moves to my side of the train. I feel guilty, I should have said something to him, told him to leave her alone, spoken up because she wouldn’t or couldn’t. She looks troubled, I wonder if this is the guy she will never forget. That she’ll think about, get angry about, wish she would have told him to fuck off, wonder if he would have hit her if she did. He was a foot and a half taller than her and large and drunk in the afternoon. I don’t think I’ll forget her. I get off the train and man asks me for a lighter, I don’t have one, sorry, as I’m walking away he tells me I have an impeccable body. I’m wearing a white t shirt and shorts. I tell him he needs to keep those comments to himself, that it isn’t nice constantly hear things like that every time I leave the house. He’s confused, I walk away.
I have zero tolerance for anyone who makes overtly sexual comments to woman, especially if they don’t know them, however like most of us I guess I used to feel that bowing my head and not saying anything was helping me.
It wasn’t and it wasn’t helping them realize their idiotic ways either.
So on my usual trip home I encountered the same general comments on a section home near the local pub… no surprises there. However this time I decided to comment back…
Mid 40’s Creep: “Hey looking good, all you need now is a smile!”
Although I would have usually kept walking I turned and I said “And all you need is to loose the creepy attitude, but have a nice day…” With a gigantic smile on my face that screamed sarcasm and my middle finger raised high.
I got called a bitch after saying it… And again I turned and said “Well maybe if you weren’t such a disrespectful asshole I wouldn’t need to be. Now have a lovely lonely evening sir.” Again with the biggest smile I could.
He didn’t know what hit him…
Proudest Moment Ever!!!! Gonna do this from now on… Smiles and Sarcasm seemed to work against these brainless creeps.
I was walking across the USC campus parking lot in the middle of the day when a middle-aged man called to me from the sidewalk. He was standing with a parking guard. He said, “Excuse me, young lady, aren’t you going to say hi to two handsome men?”, gesturing to the guard and himself. They were both smirking. I smiled and kept walking and he called after me, “That’s better, sweetheart.”
It doesn’t matter where or you are, if you are not “controlled” by men, they feel the need to establish their power. What they don’t realize is, that makes them all the more powerless.
Was walking thru Times Square after work at 11pm Saturday Sept 20, looking down texting my boyfriend (not that it should matter but I was wearing somewhat baggy jeans and a blousy three quarter length Tshirt) when an apparent comedy club ticket seller with no teeth (short guy in a black hat and suit jacket) shouted at me “Hey you should smile!” And I flipped around and told him no thank you he continued talking saying he was a comedian and wanted “me” to smile.
Then a block later on 46th and 7th a guy standing in a group of two guys and a girl at a hot dog stand, repeatedly yelled to me “hey miss! Hey miss!”. I ignored him thinking he either wasn’t talking to me and if he was I wasn’t about to entertain him. He then yelled “hey BITCH!” I stopped , turned around, glared at him and said excuse me!? He laughed in my face, as well as the other two guys and girl while he bragged to them “told you she’d turn around”. I was so angry and shocked I just continued on my way home.
Catcalled by a boy, about 8, who was congratulated by his father.
A tale about my evening commute home and my adventures with creepy smarmy guy and skulking threatening guy on the same bus.
I was on the bus home 22/09/14 about 6:30 this evening and this guy came up the stairs, immediately clocked me and came and sat RIGHT next to me. There were double vacant seats behind me and he was literally RIGHT UP AGAINST ME. I gave the passive agressive sort of shifting further away and he had the nerve to turn to directly face me with a creepy smile on his face and say “thank you”. (ew) I set my face to bitch resting and stared out of the window while keeping an eye on his cell phone which he was playing around with a lot. I could see him very often turning and staring at me, it was pretty scary I had no idea what this creep might try so I got my keys locked between my fingers of one hand and made it very clear by hardening my expression further that I didn’t want to be bothered.
He then suddenly leaned in close, I leapt a mile and he started whispering “do you have the time?” He was both holding a bloody phone and had the clock on the sign in plain sight. I made a snarling face and pointed to the clock and said loudly “Its 6:44.” Making people look around at us, it also made me feel slightly more in control as he then shrunk back and started grumbling into his phone.
I got off a stop early just in case he tried following me so I could run into the nearby bar if need be and so stood up waiting for him to let me past but he stretched his knees further forward and grinned at me signalling for me to step over him. Really angry by this point I barged straight into his legs taking care to rake the heels of my chunky boots hard across his shins and forcing him to spin round to the side letting me past. He made a hissing sound and I felt pretty smug and empowered about it.
BUT THEN I was going down the steps and this guy was standing in the stairwell taking up the entire space and glowering up at me from under his baseball cap, his feet stretched forward covering the whole floorspace. He made a kind of sneering face at me as I came nearer and it was clear he wasn’t going to move and I would have to clamber around him like a bloody idiot. I decided not to rock the boat, he looked like a regular at Pentonville so made to step over one outstretched leg – but purely by accident ended up losing my balance and bringing my trusty boot slamming down onto his toes. He cried out and said something like “argh, bitch!” I’m not sure, I was already hurrying out of the bus and straight into the bar, there wasn’t any need though as he didn’t seem to follow me off.
I was pretty scared and angry at the time at these two creeps who try to threaten and letch on random women but looking back at it now I’m grinning like an idiot as in my small way I was able to reclaim a bit of control and give them a gift from the karma gods. Enjoy the single life fellas!
Craving a late night cup of joe from the Starbucks in the Duke Hospital, my friend and I waited on the corner to cross the five-lane deserted street. Entranced in our conversation, we hardly noticed the car slowing to a stop on our left. Before making their right turn, the men in the car decided it would be appropriate to halt mid-turn and comment on our “asses” and “how fine” we are and that they would love to “give us a ride.” I wonder how could they even see our asses, considering it was the middle of winter and we had on more layers than an onion. Scared, we didn’t make eye contact or reply, hoping they would just go on their way. Luckily, they kept on driving, while we ran across the road into the safety of the hospital.
I was walking my dog at around 11 pm in a family housing area on a military base when a male at a house across the street, presumably there for a party or something, started hollering at me about my “tiny shorts” and walking around by myself at night. I didn’t hear anyone else in the group either encourage or discourage him. I considered yelling back at him, or even just flipping him off, but decided against it for my safety as I was approaching a darker and less populated area. Just goes to show street harassment is an across-the-board issue.
I was leaving a grocery store at about 8pm on a Friday night, when I passed a couple of very drunk men in the parking lot. One of them slur-whispered “Oh baby, so beautiful” to me in Spanish, followed by something else that I couldn’t hear. When I didn’t break eye contact, he then said “hi” to me in English. “Oh hi,” I said, and then I asked him, in Spanish, whether he was sure that he didn’t want to say anything else to me. So gross.
Guy working at a cell phone booth near the mall food court called “hi sweetie” as I passed. I’d never seen his face before. I told him not to call me that and not to give nicknames to strangers because they don’t like that. He didn’t take me seriously, but he got told.