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I was walking back from a party with friends- we were going to try and get a late night bus. Just as we’re approaching the bus stop, a group of guys started running at us yelling “BITCHEEES”. I wasn’t really appalled until one of them ran past me, and as he did so, he ran his hand up my leg and grabbed my butt. I always thought I would be able to say something in that kind of situation, one that was more than verbal abuse, but I didn’t. I sort of froze and just said something to my friends. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m more disappointed in the fact that women simply walking down the street is apparently an invitation to grope and touch them.
So, I’m a fifteen year old girl…and I was going to my third period class yesterday (friday). I was wearing a red cotton dress with an over sized tee shirt on top so I wasn’t breaking the dress code that I completely disagree with. The dress goes down to about an inch or so above my knee and my shirt goes down to a little lower than my clavicle. Well my history teacher put me in a group with three other people and I was explaining what was on the homework because of course I’m the only one to do it and I notice my at least sixty year old teacher keep looking at me and hanging around close to my group and he the entire time is looking me over, and I don’t think of myself as a particularly sexy TEEN but I am curvy so I generally catch on when guys stare at my boobs or ass and he was staring at my boobs a lot and when I crossed my arms he called me out of the room. And as always this will inspire an immature ooooooh from my classmates and i walked out embarrassed into the hall with an OPEN DOOR and was quite loud about how I was not appropriately dressed for school and I was distracting the other students, a lady of my age and intelligence (as if letting air touch your skin is harmful to your brain cells)shouldn’t be wearing such apearal blah blah blah and I nodded wanting it to be over and agreed to dress more appropriately on monday because what else can I do? Its not like I can tell him to go fuck himself instead of staring at my tits all 45 minutes of the class. And after I walked into class again i see the two boys in my group grin at me and I raised my eyebrow at them, when I sat down they started to ask all sorts of inappropriate questions like “so did he bust you for being a coke whore yet?” “hey I got five dollars on me is that enough for a blowjob?” “So is there some kind of slut academy where a guy can get a girl a bit thinner than you for cheap?” I fucking kid you not…and no one did anything…so I looked over at my teacher’s desk, guess what? HE WAS FUCKING SMIRKING AT ME WHAT THE FUCK? And so for the rest of the day these boys saw me in the halls and coughed “slut” “bitch” “hoe” “fat cunt” and some of their inbred jerk-off chauvinist pigs of friends joined in…Well I survived friday, can’t wait till monday…
I wanted to red flag Townsville, Australia as a big city for street harassment. It’s a city with a country vibe, a large local army base full of irritating alpha male types and very little to do…so this kind of behaviour is often seen as a right of passage for the males of the town.
The worst experience was when I and a friend were going home from the river after a day swimming and were walking on the pavement parallel to the highway. Some car full of guys actually slowed down, climbed half way out of the window and smacked my friend’s ass as he drove by in his truck. She was teeny at the time so the smack toppled her over onto her knees (grazing them quite badly) and to which they reacted to by hooting and saying “nice ass” before driving off. We didn’t get the licence plate in time to do anything about it and I’ve always been a bit bitter about the situation because we just had to deal with it in the only way we could – we just stopped walking that route home completely.
Seeing us as walking boobs and legs is just a way to pretend we’re not people, we’re not deserving of respect and we don’t have rights to our own bodies. It’s utter bullshit.
I was sitting with my boyfriend outside of the movie theater, I leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek when a group full of teenage boys drove by in a truck and yelled at me “Suck his dick!” I glared at them and told them to fuck off. I’m sickened that I was degraded so quickly.
I walked through a group of 30 year old men, and when they said hello, i returned the greeting, and immediately after i did a different man began shouting “you got some nice titties” over and over until his friend chimed in “and a real nice ass”
Walking around through town, some guy looks me up and down. I looked at the ground and he walks off shouting “cheer up”. I was cheerful before he turned up!
Three times now, when I’ve dropped my little sister at Elementary School, I have been “hit on” by students there. All were boys under ten. One boy stared at my chest and tried to touch me. It made me feel filthy inside.
I know this is very minor compared to what other women have gone through, but these were children! They are getting it from somewhere. It has to stop!
Guy walking by me on Fort Totten Metro platform: You are so pretty. You sexy too.
(I give him the stink-eye. He keeps walking.)
Harasser: I was just giving you a compliment.
Me: That’s not a compliment.
Harasser: I just said you’re pretty.
Me: That’s not a compliment.
Harasser (walks back over to me): I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.
Me: When you comment on a woman’s looks without her asking you, it’s disrespectful.
Harasser: It was a compliment. You’re supposed to say, “thank you”.
Me: That’s not a compliment. When you comment on a woman’s looks without her asking, it’s disrespectful, it’s not a compliment.
Harasser: Where you from?
Me: I don’t have to talk to you.
Harasser: When someone gives you a compliment, you’re supposed to say “thank you”.
Me: That’s not a compliment when you comment on a woman’s body without her asking you.
Harasser: How many women you think ask “How do I look today?” Next time say thank you.
Me: No. It’s not a compliment.
(Harasser starts to walk away)
Harasser: Just because you pretty don’t mean you smart. Think before you speak next time. Dumb bitch.
I’ve been harassed on the street many, many times, and it felt good to respond in that moment. But he got the last word. Until now.
In August of 2011, my city held a “clean commuting challenge” to encourage people to walk, bike, carpool, etc. to work. Having recently moved from a city where walking was very much a part of my lifestyle, I was excited for the opportunity to get into the habit again — exercise, fresh air, saving my gas money. So all week long, I walked the one mile each way to and from work. And I felt great.
But on Friday, everything changed.
I was about a third of the way home when I crossed the railroad tracks, and a young man came out of the barbershop nearby. He watched me pass, whistled, and said something derogatory. I ignored him and kept walking, as I always did in such instances. But this time was different. This time, he followed me, and continued to “talk” to me, with increasingly angry comments. “Too good for me huh,” “White girl with her nose in the air,” and some other, more personal things too profane to repeat here.
I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I had no mace, no self-defense training. Didn’t know anybody in the area yet. Cars zoomed by on Grand River Avenue, but nobody was paying any attention. I felt completely powerless.
Finally, he stopped talking. But he kept following me. I tried walking faster. He sped up, too. I tried slowing down to let him pass me. He slowed down, too. Finally I turned down my street, thinking he wouldn’t dare turn and follow me, not with an elementary school right there on the corner. But the schoolyard was empty, and no one was around on my street. And he kept following me.
A few doors down from my house, I walked up the driveway of a neighbor’s house and hid behind it, imagining that he would think this was my house and his little game would end there. I waited, watching the time. Five minutes passed. I peeked out from the side of the house — and there he was, standing on the sidewalk, arms folded. Watching me. Waiting.
I finally called 911 and when the police came, he tried to run away. They caught him and took him in, but had to let him go the next day. I was told I couldn’t press charges because he hadn’t actually done anything to me.
But he did do something to me.
I never walked to work again. I never felt safe in my neighborhood again, or even in my own house — as close as I was to the street, I kept imagining he, or someone like him, might be waiting outside for me.
Eventually, I moved to a different neighborhood. But I still don’t walk anywhere by myself. And I feel angry about it. A man can walk around practically anywhere he wants and have no fear. But a woman has to be told, has to feel, it’s not safe.
It’s not fair.
Since I was 12 and first started jogging on city streets, I’ve always encountered leers and comments. I’ve jogged in suburban neighborhoods of Silicon Valley, the capital of Costa Rica, Paris, San Diego CA, etc. As your research bears out, I perceive it to be a simple fact of life and my only response has either been retreat or anger. As a 12-16 year old, I would often yell back my age, hoping to expose to the adult male that he was my father’s age. My older brother believed I was exaggerating the extent of the staring and sexual comments, that perhaps I was flattering myself. Until, one day he ran with me. He was utterly shocked at how watched and violated he felt after experiencing the level of attention I received. He had an entirely new perspective on how poorly women and girls are treated in public, even with a chaperone. To this day, (25 years later), I will still reflexively flip off anyone who whistles or slows down to stare, etc. It sometimes makes me so angry I will chase after them and hit their car with my fists if they are forced to stop at an upcoming stoplight. I fully understand that some are raised to think that calling out sexual comments is a compliment, but I don’t think they’ve thought it through – to have every single moment on a public street be an invitation for being sexualized is simply not fun.