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This happened several years ago when I was attending USC (as an older student). As I was walking to class one day, I passed a house that was having some construction work done on it. A guy up on the roof yelled some stupid remark at me (can’t remember the exact words but it was something like, “Hey, baby, why don’t you come up here and blah, blah, blah.” I thought about just continuing to walk on and ignore him, but it just made me mad that someone would think that they had the right to try to degrade me in public this way and it was so obvious that it was about a man’s ability to exert power and control and to feel entitled to humiliate a woman. So I stopped, showed him my backpack of text books and yelled back, ” And I’m a college student while you’re up there working for minimum wage, you loser!”
It probably didn’t change him in the long run, but for that one moment, I felt totally empowered and proud of myself for standing up to him.
Submitted by Susan
I was on the L red line train when a disheveled looking man sat down across from me. I could feel him staring at me, but I didn’t want to look up and make eye contact so I kept my eyes on my newspaper. He held up a dirty, folded piece of paper and tried to hand it to me but I wouldn’t take it, so he opened it and shoved it in my face. I still didn’t look up at him, but I could see that it said, “I’m lonely and I need some loving. Will you join me in a group sex orgy?” I didn’t know what to do, so I shook my head very fast and still didn’t want to look at him. I moved to another seat, then got off at the next stop and waited for the next train.
Submitted by Heather
My story may technically fall under “domestic violence” but I think once you air your dirty laundry in public it deserves come under censure.
I was walking through my boyfriend’s apartment complex, headed towards his unit when I heard angry screaming echoing through the parking lot. I stopped walking, wondering if I could make out what was going on and didn’t have to look far before I noticed a girl sitting behind the wheel of a parked car, sobbing her eyes out. All the yelling was coming from her passenger seat. I was immediately concerned even though I didn’t know what was going on, but it looked and sounded like she was getting verbally attacked. So I head back to my car, hoping to buy some time and see if I needed to call authorities. Some scary guy is walking in and out of her car, screaming insults at her, making a scene, and even brought his room mate out to the car so he could justify whatever tirade he was on about (She had called him a liar or something? I would have called him unstable).
It’s only been 30 seconds or so, but I’ve already decided to call security when I see him grab her face, yelling “Look at me! Look at me, bitch!” I was so angry by this point I stomped over and started yelling HEY to get his attention off of her. It worked, probably a little too well. Luckily we were on opposite sides of the car but that didn’t stop him from trying to scare me too. Calling me names, and saying how this was none of my business. I said none of that mattered and “You DON’T. TOUCH. HER.” and that I’d be calling someone to the scene. Now that I look back, he responded in probably the most ridiculous way possible, “Go ahead and call the cops. I don’t give a fuck! I’ve BEEN in prison before!” If I hadn’t been so mad I might have laughed in his face. I gave him a pointed look, flipped open my phone in the bitchiest way possible, and stomped away to grab the number for security.
When I met the guards a minute later the couple was gone. Luckily, since I’d seen the Screamer pull his friend outside I knew which apartment they lived in. The guards confronted the guys but I saw no sign of the girl. I’m still worried about her and I only hope that by sticking up for her, maybe she’ll learn that no one deserves to be treated like that.
Submitted by Katherine
So when I was thirteen years old I lived in a terraced house set back from the road where my bus ran to my high school. At this time, they were building a small housing estate at the end of the road and I had to walk past the construction workers to go pretty much anywhere. The construction went on for forever; I’m pretty sure that they were building until I was about fifteen.
Now construction workers, like white van men, have a general reputation for cat calls and leering, and I developed pretty early, meaning that in the summer, when I walked past them in a tank top and a pair of shorts, a small chorus of wolf whistles and cat calling erupted from the site. Oh shit, I thought, is this going to happen all the time?
It happened more than once, which was bad enough. What was even worse is that they knew I was underage. Maybe they didn’t know exactly how young I was, but I’d walked past in my school uniform, they didn’t have an excuse. I told my mother about it eventually and she stormed down to give the foreman a piece of her mind, to which they responded like a bunch of naughty schoolboys: “Oh no miss, it couldn’t have been us, we’ve been down the other end all week.”
Bollocks, said my mother, you’ve been harassing my thirteen year-old daughter and I won’t stand for it.
The cat-calls stopped after that. I don’t know if it was the discovery that I wasn’t as old as I looked or the fact that my mother is a fierce bitch, but thankfully, it stopped.
Submitted by Milena
I had only recently moved to London from Nova Scotia, Canada, and had even more recently moved out of my cousin’s house in South London and into my own flat in North London. I spent the first few days exploring the area between Turnpike Lane and Seven Sisters stations, as you do in any new area I guess, looking at the shops and grocery stores, etc.
After being in the area for maybe two weeks tops, I was walking to Turnpike Lane station when a guy stepped out of a door stoop by one of the shops on West Green Road and blocked my way. I paused because he was in my way, and he tried to start a conversation about my Remembrance Day poppy. I tried to be polite and move along as I was late, but he was insistent that I *had* to have a conversation with him, and refused to stop blocking my path. Things quickly turned creepy. “I’ve seen you around,” he said, “I know you live in this area. You definitely live nearby. Give me your number, we’ll go clubbing. You’re pretty, you have to.” I had never seen this guy before in my life, and was severely creeped out by the fact that he had obviously been watching me, trying to figure out my routine. I pretended that I didn’t have a cell phone, but he made me write down his number before he’d stop blocking my path and let me continue on my way. No touching, and no verbal abuse, but still terrifying because of his insistence that I owed him something [my number, my time] since he had spent so much time watching me. I pretty much exclusively use Seven Sisters station now.
Submitted by Jade
My friend’s nickname for me is “mama”, because a man called me that on the street once when we were walking together. “Hey mama, how you doing? You’re looking good…”
It’s funny and sweet when she calls me that, but I’ll always remember the origin of the nickname: unsolicited harassment on the street.
Submitted by Ileanna
I was getting into my car this morning to drive to work and, while throwing my bag into the backseat, I dropped my keys on the ground. There was a traffic debacle waiting in the wings, as a car pulled up behind me to make room for a school bus that was coming in the opposite direction (facing my vehicle). As I squatted down to pick up my keys, someone on the bus yelled “nice ass” out of an open window. I did not see the face of the student, but the sound of the voice was congruent with that of an elementary school student … If I had to venture a guess, I would have placed the student in 4th or 5th grade. Not only did I feel harassed and discounted, but I felt disheartened on a deep level. I have reason to believe that this was a child saying this … trying to impress friends or laxly emulating behavior(s) he has synthesized from any number of people, places, and things. Any way you slice it, it felt terrible for a multitude of reasons.
Submitted by Janet
A few years ago when I was walking to the gym when a group of men sitting outside an apartment building started talking to me. It started out innocently enough with “How are you?” “Have a nice day,” etc. Then one of them got up and followed me and trying to talk to me even though I made it clear I was not interested. He said we should go out and proceeded to grab my ass. I told him not to touch me and jumped away. He replied “But I like touching.” Even when clearly being spurned he kept following me, asking for my number. He didn’t leave me alone until I gave him a phone number…that I made up. What a jerkface.
Submitted by Laura
HOLLABAACK!! I have been repeatedly harassed by a gross guy who works at the public library near my house. He works as “security” but stands around and leers at women and hits on them all day. He would always talk to me in an invasive, macho way, with the tone of voice of “hey, baby” as if he was at a bar and not working as security. I was always cold to him and showed him my disgust. I observed him doing this to other women also. I complained to the library manager and she said other women had complained about him, and that they would address it with him. She told me I should speak to him directly but I didn’t want to make an issue of it at the time. He is a predator and predators are about power and control. At the time a girl I knew had been raped by her bf and we plastered anti rape signs around the town and put anti sexual harassment signs all over the library. It’s not as direct but still empowering as a way to use your voice.
He continued to harass me and nothing changed. A year ago I was on the street downtown with friends and he came up and asked for a hug. I was with other people and laughing/relaxed and he caught me off guard, although my face showed disgust he he gave me a hug which I completely regretted – I felt slimed. Awhile ago walking home in the dark up the street he made a beeline towards me, diagonally from the library, and again made a slimey comment. I gave him a look of extreme disgust and walked away.
I recently had a private meeting with him and the library manager in which I told him his behavior was unacceptable, inappropriate, and must STOP or I would press charges. I told him he disgusted me. He had a typical b.s. response saying he was just being friendly and he didn’t know what I was talking about, I told him he knows EXACTLY what I am talking about; I held him accountable. A short time after the meeting, the library manager told me she had told him directly, that’s it, no more talking to women at all. I thought it would be resolved but his creepy and predatory behavior towards me continued. Recently he was reading his book from across the library, and I was tutoring students at a table, he came to read his book right behind the bookshelf next to me, to be leering at me and invade my space, when he could have chosen to go anywhere in the library and he knows I hate him and he disgusts me, esp. after the meeting. I was busy with students and didn’t speak up at the time. He has continued to speak to me when he was told not to.
The other day I decided to confront him and am glad I did. I got fed up and who cares if I was a little aggressive, he needs to know what it’s like to have his space invaded. I went up to him, said, “I need to speak with you.” He was about to make a call on his cell and he said “wait”, I said, “no, now”, I closed his cell phone cover, got up close in his space (with a sharp pencil on hand if needed) and went off on him, told him I had told him to stay out of my space and to not talk to me, he disrespected that, and he needs to learn respect and as soon as it happens again I’ll call the cops. He started swearing and then ran off. It felt good to be forceful and up in his face. God what a SCUMBAG he is.
The librarian clerk there saw the interaction and protected the predator saying it’s his job to walk around the library, how dare I talk to him like that? (typical bs). I was direct with her as well and she said I couldn’t talk to her like that, she freaked out and was very hostile. I let her know that he acts like it’s his job to harass women, and that this town is full of typical liberal passivity b.s. and that other women have complained. It was frustrating to be attacked by this stupid librarian, but who cares, the main thing is I used my voice and now he knows I will kick his ass and definitely call the cops if it happens again. I have taken my power back. Predators are the scum of the earth. I documented everything on paper on writing and will do everything in my power to get him fired. Thanks for letting me vent and share this story, it’s great to know there are ass kicking chicks out there. The stupid librarian can kiss my ass! It’s ok for women to assert themselves, and it doesn’t matter how they do it, as long as they speak up.
HOOLLLLLLLAAA BACK!!!!!!! Kick ass and speak up, use your voice!
I’m invisible when I walk down the street alone. I get cursory glances from some people but hardly anyone looks up. I’m readily identified as male-bodied. The second day I met two women from Britain at my hostel and it seemed like the creeps came out of the woodwork. Of course, they were there all along, but they don’t feel the entitlement to harass a white male – yet when a woman passes…
From Downtown Cairo to Dokki to the pyramids we endured catcalls and hisses. The worst was when we got back to Talaat Harb Square. A young guy hissed at my friends and followed us. As we were crossing the street he was getting aggressively close to one of my friends and telling her really disgusting, rude shit. I moved to help block him off and he started swearing at us, calling me a “fucker” (“you fucker, I saw you with other girls last week!” – sorry, I just got here yesterday) and them “American bitches”.
Ah, right. Then, he tried to invite us to buy some scented oils at his shop! Yay! … (north side of Talaat Harb immediately to the west of the square – avoid this shop).
Finally, we fought him off at his shop and went back to our hostel. The experience was rounded out so perfectly, I feel, when the doorman for the hostel stopped us to tell my friends that, “look, you’re in the right, you’re very respectful – you are well-covered and you have a male escort. He is a fucker.” Clearly, dressing modestly and having a “male escort” is no protection against harassment.
In the six months I’ve lived here since I’ve heard it repeated by the women who live here: you’re told to conform to standards of dress and movement (male escort, use the female-only car on the metro) to avoid being harassed (and worse) but they’re useless in the face of a determined, self-entitled fuck.
Submitted by Daetan