I am not a native Oregonian and most locals are surprised to hear me say that I am excited for the dreary wet winters. Its true that I do enjoy the rainy weather, but the weather comes with an added bonus: the park where I walk my dog multiple times a day is finally deserted of the men who typically hang out there and harass women. It is a daily occurrence during the fair weather months and was something that I had not experienced with such frequency before. I have been followed and had my personal space invaded, a man screamed in my face about “how good I would get it” from him… all in broad daylight since there is no way I will set foot outside my apartment alone after dark. I always ignore the harassment but it always makes me so angry and frustrated and it is not an emotional state that I can simply “let go of” once I had moved away from the incident. I began wearing my headphones with my music turned up as high as I could stand and wearing sunglasses. If a man passes me on the street I keep my head down and do not make eye contact. This behavior served to discourage verbal assaults and my sunglasses make me more intimidating and unapproachable. Having my headphones in gives me the added bonus of not being in an emotional funk for the rest of the day since I cant hear an assault if it does happen. At first I was proud of myself for coming up with these tactics to make myself “impervious” to verbal assault, but now I have realized that I am not empowering myself, I am hiding. And I should not have to hide from anyone in broad daylight two blocks from my apartment.
(19) I was waiting at a bus stop and a truck with two males (who looked mid twenties) was at a red light as this is on a busy street . They cat calling and whistling at me . Staring at me like I was some piece of meat . I gave them an evil glare and they simply laughed at me . I was going to talk back but they sped off before I had the chance .
I was at my lunch break from work (where I was employed at the time ) , and I was in a busy section next to the El Torito and Nordstrom Rack so people were walking by . A car pulls up in front of me the guy (looked mid twenties) said “Hey how are you ?” I responded “okay thanks ” and started to walk away . He was looking at my body up and down as I walked away and said “Hey please don’t go while smirking at me ” .
Being stared at, catcalled, greeted by a random male stranger is a regular occurrence as I walk through the streets and parks of the small city where I work. The two most particular comments that I hear are that 1) I have pretty eyes and that 2) I should smile. I quickly realized that the best strategy is to carry my Iphone in my hand and stick in my earbuds. Even if I’m not actually listening to music I can pretend that I don’t hear anything.
However, two recent incidents still upset me when I think about them. The first: I left my house to walk the short distance to the bus stop. Between my home and the bus stop is a convenience store; outside of which was a man standing by his motorcycle who I could tell was waiting for me to walk past. How could I tell? Because he had just pulled up to the store as I stepped into the street and instead of going in he stayed outside and stared at me as I walked toward the store, making what takes less than 30 seconds feel like an interminable length of time. As I walked past attempting to ignore him because I already felt uncomfortable, he spoke, so I spoke and kept going. Here’s where things get scary. I got to the bus stop and a split second later the man drove past, turned around, and pulled up to me on his motorcycle. This man followed me to tell me that when I speak to people that I should smile! My first reaction was anger until I realized that he was so close that if he had wanted to hit me I couldn’t have avoided it because I was stuck between him and the edge of the road, which fell away into bushes and brambles. I quickly edged away, told him to have a nice day, put in my trusty earbuds and ignored him until he drove away. And this was not the first or last time a man that I did not know pulled up to me on a motorcycle at that bus stop way too close for comfort.
The other incident makes me seethe because, although not scary, I was with my son at the time and the impotent feeling of having a strange man touch me, suddenly grip my arm in front of my boy and I wonder how that affected him to see my anger and frustration and shock and I wonder if he was scared or angry. I have never talked to him about it. I just swept it away so that we could continue to enjoy our day. Also, because my child was with me, not being able to respond the way that I would have if I had been alone or with another adult, foul-mouthed and possibly committing an assault of my own on this man. The fact that I still occasionally see this wastrel as I walk through the city and remember his incredulous response when I yelled at him not to touch me, as if he had the right, that it was okay because he didn’t mean it in a negative way. How dare he?! HOW DARE HE?!
In numerous occasions when men would stare and say harassing things, I found it most effective to look them in the eyes and say Ina clear, strong voice:
“Didn’t your mama teach you not to stare?”
It was last year, my sophomore year of high school and I was 15. Class was in session and I was in my art class. I walked out during some free time I had in class and went to go ask another teacher a question. Like I said class was in session so there really wasn’t anyone in the halls. When I walked out of the class I had to go down a hallway. While I was walking down the hallway I noticed about 5 boys and a few girls sitting on the floor in the hallway doing class work. I kept on walking. Then one of the boys muttered “sexy bitch” under his breath. It was obviously directed toward me. I was wearing a nice dress but nothing revealing and even if it was, what right does he have to say that! I kept on walking but on the inside I felt really uncomfortable, and kind of ashamed. Never has anyone referred to me in this way ever! I don’t swear, and to be called that terrible word hurt. It made me feel insecure and like a bad person. Even though I know I’m not. I didn’t catch a good look at his face, so I don’t know who it is but that incident really affected me.
This incident is over 25 years ago but it is still is relevant today. Since I was 12, catcalling by random men was daily fact of life. I remember feeling so frightened and confused by the comments made. Over time, you keep your head down, make no eye contact and learn to ignore it. Then, I became a mom…my first daughter.
She was only 3 years old…still in diapers. We were at an intersection waiting for the traffic light to let us cross the street. A man walked up beside us. He asked me to smile, etc..the usual. I ignored it. Then he looked at my child. “Beautiful baby” he said. He licked his lips and remarked, “she’s gonna be delicious when she 16”.
My rage was unstoppable. After my rant, he just put up his hands. No problem babe, he said. You’re delicious too. I never felt more afraid for my and my child’s safety. My sense of security was damaged forever.
I’m 55 years old now. The catcalling doesn’t happen anymore and my family has long since moved out the area. I have grandsons and new granddaughter is on her way. I worry about her and what she will face.
My husband is the exemplar of a gentleman. He would never do that to any woman. If you did it to one his daughters, you’d risk your life.
Gentlemen, help us!
I was walking up a semi-suburban/retail area, in the early evening, on my way to meet my parents for a dinner out. I was just dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt and passed by a group of men hanging out in front of an apartment complex. I walked by, hood up, and one of them said, “Hey miss, how you doin’?” When I didn’t respond, he followed up with, “Alright then, have a nice night.” I heard the rest of his group laugh. I don’t know if it’s something that I should have been afraid of, but I was, and I can never get anyone to understand why I was afraid – they always say, “But he didn’t do anything, and he didn’t try to touch you!” But I didn’t know that. I don’t want to engage in a conversation with a group of men as I’m walking to dinner – I just wanted to go to dinner. I walked fast the rest of the way because I didn’t know if I was being followed, and I didn’t want to turn around in case that only caused things to escalate.
I’m living in Calama, Chile which is effectively the shit- center of the universe. It’s a mining town occupied by double the amount of men as it is women. I’m white, I’ve never been a minority until I came here to teach English short term. I walk 6 blocks to the school in the morning, and in that time I get stared at, kissed at, honked at, and talked to in every type of way. I absolutely hate it. I hate more that people don’t think it’s a problem, and by people I mean men and women. It’s sick.
I have had over 5 instances of people on my streeet asking me for drugs, saying “hey gorgeous” “smile baby” or “God bless dat ass” as well as someone attempting to pimp me out while I was waiting for my lunch order to be ready at a local hallal deli a block from my apartment. I am angry. This needs to stop. It is not okay to start a conversation with a woman you do not know with unwanted, unwelcome sexual intent. No you weren’t just innocently complimenting me or attempting to start a conversation. You know better.