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Harassment also happens to older women who walk. This has happened more than once in Rockville. I have been out walking because I do not drive and I choose not to take the bus. People driving by yell at me because I am walking (and wearing a hat). They yell “hey, I like your hat” and the like. It makes me angry because I am just going about my business. Once it even happened right by my workplace. I don’t know what to do.
When I was thirteen, I was taking the city’s metro back home. A man, far older than me, came and sat by me. He started to talk to me and told me I was too “sexy” to be that young. As I stood up to get off at my stop, he tried to block my path and trap me in the seat. Another passenger pulled him out of my way. I was so scared I ran all the way home, and didn’t tell my parents because I blamed myself for dressing a certain way. Without that man pulling him out of my way, who knows what could have happened?
It was about 11 pm and my sister and I were about to carpool to go visit my mom since she had just been in the hospital. My sister was about to get in my car when I heard a few whistles coming from the porch of someone’s house. I told them they were being disrespectful and to stop. As soon as I got back in my car they started up again.
I was driving to school, and a few men on the back of a garbage truck started yelling “hey sexy!” until I drove away.
I was with a group of friends and this girl referred to my other friend using “it”. It turned out this friend might be trans and the friend knew that when she said what she said.
Walking during the day to go have lunch with my sister I noticed a group of men following me yelling at me in another language. I understood and translated that they were harassing me. They followed me for a few blocks.
I started walking faster. I then found two older college aged girls sitting on the steps of a building just talking together. I approached them and said “hey girls so good to see you!” as if I knew these women as my own friends. I explained that I was being followed and they let me sit with them until the men passed me and walked around the corner. I am thankful that these women were protective and helpful.
Walking to the train station, someone in a car slows down to wolf whistle at me, laughs and makes revolting ‘kissy’ motions at me when I flip him off.
Company vehicle, crowded street (with kids) and he knew he’d get away with it. This is the culture women have to put up with. Demeaning and dehumanizing.
An open letter to my street harasser (what I wish I’d said, and what I will say next time):
That was not a compliment. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that you give this kind of unsolicited feedback on the regular, so here’s a tip: what you might think is complimentary, someone else might perceive as deeply wounding and offensive. Especially when coming – unprovoked – from a complete stranger. Please think before you speak, and you might not hurt as many people. Then again, if you simply don’t care that what you say might make someone uncomfortable or self-conscious, then you’re just an utterly worthless piece of shit. There’s YOUR compliment.
I just walked into a grocery store to get some grossly overpriced desserts. As I was walking towards the store, a dude pivoted on the street and followed me into the store. He was talking at me a million miles a minute asking me about myself and whether he could hug me and telling me how beautiful I was. I said absolutely fucking not. Then he started to try to hug me and when I told him “not to fucking touch me,” I walked away.
He grabbed my arm, but I wrenched it away and repeated that he shouldn’t touch me. He also kept insisting I buy him things and asking me if I wanted have sex with him. When he asked if he should just leave and I said that he should, he stole a bunch of shit on the way out. No one batted an eye. When he left I asked “did anyone see that? did anyone at all see that?”, but no one had even looked up.
This morning, I am feeling fed up.
I was walking from the coffee shop to the mental health center that I’m volunteering at when I hear someone shouting. I realize that person is shouting at me from his car and he is trying to get my attention. He proceeds to whistle at me repeatedly and starts jeering. I ignored him and kept walking but he proceeded to shout and make inappropriate noises until I made it in the building.
I have never understood why men yell at women from their cars. What do they get from this obnoxious behavior? I have been honked at, yelled at, sneered at, propositioned, and gestured to by men from their cars since middle school. It happens when I’m walking on the street, waiting at the bus stop, and even once when I was driving on the freeway. Several times I’ve been harassed on public transit as well. Sometimes when I talk about it with people they tell me I should take it as a compliment or that it must mean they found me attractive.
I DON’T CARE if you find me attractive. It does not make me feel good when I am harassed. Men, if you have ever participated in this behavior, why do you do it? I am not going to give you my number. I am not flattered or complimented when you hit on me from your car. I am not going to smile at you. I noticed men do it more often when they are with their friends. You are not impressing me. You are not more of a man because you harass women on the street. It is not cute. It is not okay. I am not going to sleep with you. Motherfucker, I am not going to give you the time of day. If I had a bag of rocks I would strongly desire to throw them at your car.
Friends, please do not invalidate someone’s negative feelings and emotions if they talk about being a victim of street harassment. It IS quite prevalent, a big deal, and can lead to violence. It is not a compliment. It is not acceptable. I don’t care how I look or what I am wearing, it is NOT an invitation for you to holler at me.