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I was walking back from my lunch break. It was very hot and bright out and I forgot my sunglasses and was squinting. Two men in business clothes exited a building as I was walking by and one of them said to me “fix your face.” I was so stunned! My resting/thinking face is often frowny so I often her men asking me to “smile” but I have never been told to “fix my face.” I wish women never had to hear comments like this.
I am harassed daily because I take a bus and a train to work which is in the downtown area of Chicago; all sorts of people wandering. I work for a cosmetic line which encourages individual style and creative appearance. Because I am heavily tattooed and dress like I’m going to a trendy gathering for work (complete opposite of how I dress not working) I am approached, stared at, cat called, insulted, chased and treated like a tear in a magazine or an object to touch.
Daily, I am feeling angry and frustrated and filled with hate. It interrupts my work sometimes because I am in the public’s view. I was once told to tattoo “stupid whore” on my forehead because I declined communication with an older man in his 50s. I’ve been called “bitch” because I confront men who stare at me like I am oblivious to their eyes. I’ve been insulted for ignoring when I walk to my train or bus. I’ve been chased and followed by men who think I’m “easy”. I’ve been grabbed and pulled like an object because of my completely covered tattooed arms and legs. Then they get angry with me because I snap back. Because this happens literally on a daily basis, I’ve grown to hate living in Chicago. I grew up in Texas and never had this heavy amount of street harassment. I am a human and I just want to walk peacefully.
This happened to me in the summer of 2010 when I was sixteen-years-old. I was walking home after shopping in Union Square in San Francisco. I was at a stop light waiting for the light to turn and there was a man on the other side of the street waiting for the light to turn as well. As we waited, I could see him staring at me from across the street. I was very uncomfortable but gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe he was just looking at something behind me or was in some sort of daze. The light finally turns and we cross paths. He keeps looking at me but doesn’t say or do anything. I thought I was in the clear. Two blocks later, I was at another stop light. I can hear someone panting and running towards me from behind. I had a weird feeling that it might be that man from the previous stop light and I turn around and I was right. He comes up to me, and starts walking next to me and strikes up a conversation. He asks me my name. I ignored his question and told him that he shouldn’t be talking to me because I’m sixteen (this guy was clearly a lot older, probably in his thirties).
He then sees that I have shopping bags in my hands and asks if I’m going home. I shouldn’t of responded but politely, I told him yes. He then asks me if I’m living with my parents. I say yes. And then he has the guts to ask me if they are home. At this point, I am freaking out internally since we are nearing towards my house. I end up passing my house because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. After not responding, he asks me if he can have my number. At this time, it had only been a week since I moved to the United States and didn’t have a cell phone. So I told him that I don’t have a cell phone and he asks if I have a home phone. At this point, I was fed up, scared, and had no idea what else to say so I blurted out that I had a boyfriend. He then laughs, stops walking with me, and turns around to goes back towards the direction he was originally going.
This was six years ago but I remember it like it was just yesterday.
Always when guys whistle at me or call out stuff such as “babygirl” etc, I never ever look at them, especially not the whistles. I’m not a fucking dog.
I had plans to meet a male friend at a restaurant for dinner. When I pulled into the restaurant parking lot, I saw my friend in his car waiting for me, waved, and continued on to park my car. I parked right in front of the door to the restaurant, and as I pulled in, a middle-aged man walked out and stood right in front of the aisle between my car and the one next to me, blocking the restaurant and smiling at me creepily. I was dressed nice, and when I got out and began to lock my car, he started saying, “Hey, you’re pretty cute…”, and began to approach me. There was absolutely no need for him to walk down the aisle between the cars, so I can only assume it was to get closer to me.
I immediately turned and walked away from him and toward my friend, who had gotten out of his car but did not know what was going on. The man followed me until he saw that I was not alone, but with a male, and then went away. It is unfathomable to me that in this century, there are still people that will not respect a woman’s own right to exist and go where she pleases without being harassed by random strangers, until she is accompanied by another man. The man at this restaurant respected more the fact that my male friend knew me than the fact that I am a person. Women are humans, and humans should not need the presence of another human to be treated as such.
When I was in highschool, there was a guy who was constantly harassing me. He was friends with a friend of mine, and our school wasn’t so big, so he was always around it seemed and even in a few of my classes. He always commented on my breasts (I have fairly large ones), would say I had “the perfect BJ mouth”, and wouldn’t let up when I asked him to stop. I had one class with him where he sat right next to me, and during the class he would suddenly grab my breast and grin at me when I would look at him in shock. This happened almost every day, and when I would confront him he would laugh and say, “it was a ghost!” It really bugs me that, not only did he get away with it, but my teacher never seemed to care. We sat in front of his desk, and I knew he was aware. It made me so uncomfortable because the guy was popular and I would most likely get harassed more if I went to the principle. I felt powerless.
I lived in the NY/NJ area for 7 years – and over that time, I had men expose themselves to me on the subway, call to me on the street and then masturbate, and one time I wasn’t even off of the steps to my building when a guy said “nice tits”. But the worst experience I had was when I was living in Jersey City, NJ and working in Manhattan.
I often took the bus in and out of Port Authority. One night, I was out in NY with friends, and was going home about 11 PM so the terminal was pretty empty and quiet. It was summer, and I was wearing a white sundress that fell just below my knees. As I was standing on the escalator going up to the next floor, I felt my skirt brush my leg. It was odd because the escalator wasn’t crowded, and when I turned to see what caused it, I discovered a man lying on the escalator behind me, peering up my skirt. I immediately started shouting, “Stop it! Get away from me!” and I ran to my bus platform as quickly as possible, because I knew there would be other people waiting there as well. The man followed me. As I neared the platform, I continued shouting, “That man is following me – he just looked up my skirt” By this point I was crying and very upset. The worst part of it, however, was the indifference of the people waiting. Someone actually said, “what do you expect?” and everyone literally avoided me, as if I was crazy.
When I got on the bus, I was sobbing uncontrollably, and no one wanted to sit next to me (which was fine with me). Then one man politely and respectfully asked if he could sit next to me. After he sat down, he apologized for the behavior of everyone else. He asked me if I wanted to talk about it, and I told him what happened. He again apologized for my experience. And then he started asking me random, small talk questions in an effort to divert my attention and make me feel better. He was the only person in a bus load of people that didn’t treat me like a leper. He even offered to walk me to my door, but there was no way I was going to trust him just because he was nice to me. I don’t know if he was trying to take advantage of my being in a vulnerable state, but I like to think that he was just a good guy in a sea of creeps.
My husband and I recently moved into a brand new townhouse. There is still a lot of construction going on in the neighborhood, especially right behind our house. I am in my early 20’s and have been harassed on the street too many times to count. If you are a woman or a part of the LGBTQ community, I am 99% positive that you have been harassed by a construction worker at least once in your life.
One day this summer I went out to get the mail. Since I live in a townhouse my mailbox is not simply at the end of my drive way. While I was walking back from grabbing the mail, a construction worker started to catcall. “Hey! Hey pretty!” I ignored his comments. “Hey! Hey I’m talking to you!” He did not like that I did not give him the time of day. I did not flick him off like I wanted to nor did I even look his way. By the time I reached my garage he was still trying to get my attention. I closed the garage door and stormed into my house. I was pissed! I was pissed that I was harassed at my own home. Home is a place where you are supposed to feel safe and welcomed. Every other time that I have been harassed I have flicked the guy/s off. I believe the reason why I did not respond was because I did not feel safe to do so; the bastard knows where I live.
On another day before the mailbox situation, I was walking back from the grocery store next to the house. This guy driving a construction bobcat pulled up next to me and said “Hey pretty, why don’t you hop on up here and I’ll give you a ride?” I said, “No.” He responded, “Just trying to do something nice for a lady.” He winked at me and kept driving. I was only 20ft away from my front door.
Some drunk guys walked into me (I was stationary, just standing and chatting with friends) and called me a lesbian (as if that’s an insult), and called me a bitch and told me to suck his cock. I, perhaps, reacted strongly and walked after him half a block shouting obscenities at him. He did not expect that reaction and scampered away. I’m not saying that was the safest thing I could have done, but he definitely tried to get away from me.
I was on holiday in NYC for 2 weeks- here are some incidents I dealt with during that time.
-I walked past a guy, and he made that “psssst” sound, three times as I was walking past. I ignored him, naturally, and carried on walking, while grimacing.
-A lot of “HEY!”/”Oh, beautiful”/”mm sexy”/”GOD DAMN” comments in my face or as I was walking past
-“SUP! SUP! SUP! ….SUP! SUP!!!! (all the while, I’m ignoring these guys but have noticed them all staring at me and smirking)… “ARE YOU A SUICIDE GIRL? THINK I’VE SEEN YOU IN MAGAZINES. HEY! OI!” – I ignored them the whole time, and they carried on
-Someone made some noise at me on 2nd ave (I don’t remember what exactly, but it was insulting that’s for sure), so I turned round and noticed him laughing, and shook my head and said “that’s really f***ing rude.” – he looked taken aback that I’d replied
-I was on my way home from a show in Brooklyn at about midnight, and two guys were following me down the platform (there was no-one else down there) and were whistling and smirking at me the whole time- that made me feel SO safe… really. I could feel myself panicking but couldn’t do anything until my train came- luckily they didn’t get on
-We were coming through Times Square one night on the way home, and were stopped by a group of guys. To cut a long story short, they were quite intimidating- they asked a lot of questions and basically kept asking if we wanted to ‘hook up’ and have them show us NYC. I replied that I know my way around and that I don’t think my boyfriend would like that. This guy was pretty persistent and didn’t really seem to care… oh and the whole time (about 5/10 minutes, even when he was talking) he was staring directly at my chest. I hate how these guys stand around in big groups, especially on 42nd street, seemingly targeting young females/female tourists and attempting to pick them up. It doesn’t work with me, but I’m sure it works on some girls who are perhaps younger, more naive and vulnerable than myself. You know this group of guys wouldn’t have even looked twice at me if I had been with a guy (whether that’s my boyfriend or a male friend), but as it was two females on their own, they thought they had a shot.
-I think the worst was when we were waiting to cross the street (also near 42nd, duh), and a guy in his van pulled across in front of us, in moving traffic, stopped the van, opened the window and gestured at me to get in. He did it a couple of times, and I was not in the mood, so I gave him the middle finger and shook my head in a pitiful kind of way. He then gestured at me to get in again, then drove off. All the while holding up traffic. We got to the next block and waited to cross again… he was back. He’d driven round the block in about 20 seconds to give me more shit.. this time he actually leaned out of the window (again, stopping moving traffic) and said something while grinning at me, so I just waved him on (the whole time there was a load of people standing with me and on the other side, just watching me and him) and told him “I AM NOT INTERESTED, MOVE, MOVE, MOVE, JUST GO” (being in a crowd of people, I still felt so threatened, not to mention embarrassed that he was singling me out, out of everyone there). Finally he drove off. So that was that… then to make matters 10x worse, two guys crossed from the other side and came towards us. One said to me “he just stopped traffic for you! He wanted to talk to you!” and I said “yeah well i’m not interested, it’s pathetic. I don’t want to talk to people like that, it’s gross.” He replied “yeah, it’s horrible, what can I say. I’m sorry. It’s New York. You don’t want to talk to guys like that.” This whole time I was looking monumentally fucked off, was being very disinterested in him and wasn’t even making eye contact, clearly wanting to just get on with my day. He then asked where we were going, and then said “how long are you going to be around? Do you want to maybe meet up again with me and my friend here?” (his friend then flashed a creepy smile at my friend and I – SERIOUSLY?! I couldn’t believe that in one breath he was seemingly sympathizing with me and the next trying to ‘hook up’ with us, despite seeing how upset I was.
Back in the UK- the other day, my best friend and I were walking around her town, and were walking past a man – he says to us “alright girls?” to which my friend replied “hello” and he then said “fancy a shag?” – why? why is this necessary? It’s degrading, disgusting and sad.
– Yesterday I was walking along a main road and a builder’s van passed me, unfortunately with the windows open, so I had to hear that “OW OW OWWWWWW” woofing type noise the ‘men’ inside felt the need to scream out at me as I walked past.