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“I wanna hold your hand.” As I am walking with my girlfriend.
I was recovering from a painful/traumatic medical procedure, wearing a baggy sweater, loose coat, sunglasses and hat, not in the mood to be bothered. I came to Coney Island to volunteer with an elderly man who lives there, as I do every week. The man pictured here was hanging out outside where I parked my car and began loudly commenting on my appearance as I fed the meter. I really wasn’t in the mood, and just ignored him, going about my business. When I came back to leave, he was still there and continued where he left off, but when I didn’t acknowledge him, he began angrily shouting for me to “have a nice day.” Finally he yelled “don’t suck too much cock!” as I was getting in to my car. I snapped at that point, flipped him off and said fuck you, took this picture and drove away.
The first time a man exposed himself to me I was 11 years old in Cinncinnati, Ohio.
I am now nearly 50 and I have gotten so used to ignoring street harassment that I stopped thinking about it years ago.
The list of serious street harassment experiences I have had is so long that it is pointless to list them all. Everything from the city worker in city uniform in a city truck wiggling his tongue through the crotch of his fingers, to men brazenly grabbing my ass as I walk down the sidewalk, to the every day “you’d look good on me”, and nowadays:”You still lookin’ good for an old lady, you a cougar baby?”….and the kissing sounds, those are the most revolting.
I’ve learned to ignore them, stay aware from those parts of town, and not to use the train or bus because of the harassment. It’s just not worth it to deal with it.
Sadly: it is just become a background factor in my life. I just live accepting that this is the way it has always been and will always be: no one has ever done anything about it, bystanders often laugh or jump in and join the harasser. You can call the cops, but they do not take reports. I have even had them say “Why do you want to report this and ruin the poor guy’s life?” or some other version of “boys will be boys.”
Now I watch the same thing happening to my daughter and I am furious.
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?!
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 have only lived in San Diego for 6 months and I have already had some experiences that have made me very uncomfortable to walk home from work in my “safe” neighborhood. I’ll start with the least disturbing occurrence and go on from there. I was on my work, sitting outside of Starbucks with my nametag on. A man said “You should smile, Hailey.” I think it was just because I was sitting alone minding my own business. Another time I was walking past this Starbucks when I followed the gaze of two men (one young, one old) as they checked me out from behind. The older man asked “what ethnicity are you?” to which, I didn’t respond and continued to walk, upsetting them. They became upset.
Here is where things get really messed up.
It was a hot night and I was wearing a short, yet long sleeved dress. My boyfriend and I were walking home when we had come to a stop to wait for the light to turn so we could cross the road. A suspicious looking man was waiting for a different light. He had a large jacket on, glasses, a backpack, and his hands in his pockets. Once he saw us, he immediately started laughing and moved to our side of the street. My boyfriend and I decided not to risk waiting with this man, so we turned around and began walking quickly in the opposite direction. We started running full speed when the man yelled “That’s right you keep running!”
Another occasion, I was on my lunch break again. I was walking past the grocery store when a man with a long beard approached me and asked if I would have sex with him. I looked him in the face (as you should do with suspicious characters) and continued to walk. He began screaming hysterically “of course you don’t want to have sex with me!, why would you want to have sex with me!? Come on!!!” To which I looked back and responded by telling him to fuck off. Maybe not the smartest move but, this was a busy shopping center in the day time. I immediately called the police and let the ladies at work know what he looked like. The police said they could do nothing unless he actually physically assaulted me.
This is possibly one of the creepiest things I have ever experienced. A man comes into the store where I work quite often, we will call him Jeff. He appears to be a man in his 40’s. I am a petite 18 year old that looks more like I could be 16. One night just before close, Jeff comes in and mentions that he had just seen me at a specific grocery store. I thought that was very odd because I hadn’t been there for around 3 weeks. I thought he might work there because I do shop there on my breaks and the employees talk to me. Turns out he didn’t work there. Jeff comes in again a few weeks later and gets something for his daughter. I help him find it and ring him up at the register. He begins to ask me questions about my job and make general but, invasive small talk. A few minutes after he leaves we get a phone call. I pick up the work phone. I recognize his voice. He introduces himself as the “bald guy” I just helped and asks if this is a good time. I figure it’s something to do with work and say “of course, how can I help?” He asks me if I’m single! I say no and that I have to get back to work and hang up. What!??? I let my manager know.