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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
My friend and I were grocery shopping. She was off looking at veggies and I was alone in the back corner grabbing some bread. As I set off to meet up with her I paused to pull up my tights. Some tall creep rounded the corner, laughed, and said “Somebody’s going to get laid tonight” and kept going. It didn’t register for a moment and when I finally managed to say “fuck you” he was out of ear shot and my voice was so, so small. It made the rest of the night weird.
Submitted by LO
I was walking a dog about 3:15 this afternoon on Prospect Park West between 11th and 12th streets a male, about 6’2″, middle aged with gray facial hair carrying a new york times and a bottle of water says to me,”she’s looking for you.” I gave him a weird look and saw a female dog walker behind him. I approached the woman because she looked distraught and asked if she’s was ok. She said, “that man spat on me.” I saw this man once before jogging in the park near the 11th street entrance, and he shouted “white trash” in my direction. I dismissed it at the time because he was wearing head phones. now I see a connection between both incidences: both of his targets were women, and both dog walkers.
Submitted by Tina
Walking on West 16th street at 2pm in the afternoon, I crossed paths with a man who said “hey, sweetheart” and reached out to grab me. I dodged out of the way and yelled, “Who are you? Get away from me!” I kept walking, but he said, “OK bitch, no wonder you’re by yourself.” I turned back and responded, “You tried to grab me, do you really think that’s ok?” He said, “Nobody tried to grab you.” (oh, gee, I guess you just extended your hand out towards my chest because you needed to stretch???)
I fished my phone out of my purse, and pointed the camera at him. For some reason he pulled his phone out of his pocket and put it to his ear (even though he hadn’t dialed anything). He said, “Whatever, I’m an attorney, so, what are you going to do?” I’d already gotten a picture, so I said “I’m going to put you on the internet with other assholes who harass women on the street.” Again, I started walking away, but I guess he still couldn’t let me have the last word, because he launched into a diatribe, calling me fat, ugly, a bitch, and a kike. Classy.
During this rant, another man came by pushing a cart full of construction supplies. He said to me, “Don’t worry about what he says, you’re beautiful.” I appreciated that he was trying to be nice, but I couldn’t help feeling that he was kind of missing the point. I think one of the driving impulses behind street harassment is the assumption that women desire/need/are required to build our identities and sense of self on men’s opinions of us. But you know what? Good OR bad, a stranger’s opinion DOESN’T MATTER to me. If I don’t know you, I don’t care what you think of me.
Anyway, I let the construction guy get in between me and the ranting guy, and took advantage of the distance to get another photo. During his rant, I realized this guy was actually slurring his words. Since he was so interested in listing all the things he thought were wrong with me, I asked him “Do you really believe I care what you think of me?” Then, as he continued on, I said, “You’re slurring your words. Are you drunk?” Strangely, this was the comment that actually made him angry. He came towards me and yelled “Bitch, I will fuck you up!” This would have been scary if it weren’t for the fact that he couldn’t walk without stumbling back and forth. Instead, it was just funny. I laughed, and said, “you are really funny.” He said, “Funny? You’re jewisss.” I laughed again, and said “You’re hilarious!” then, since there were a couple of other people on the block watching the whole thing, “look everyone, it’s Mel Gibson!” I kept laughing as I walked away.
Submitted by Nancy
Today I was walking with a friend (who is a girl) to grab a bite to eat. We had already made plans to hit the gym afterwards so we were in gym wear/sweats and a sweater. As we were walking down the street there were a group of men in a circle talking amongst themselves. One of them had turned around and I had made eye contact with him. As we passed by he said “hey ladies” about 3 or 4 times but we just ignored the bunch and kept walking. Then he was like “ok, hey men” about a couple times. His other friend said something about “pulling our dick up” or something of that nature.
I flipped them off and we just walked away. My friend wasn’t phased by it (or maybe she was) but I was so tempted to go off. I was pissed. As I’ve read on this site, the only consolation we have as women is to speak up and put men in their place when these instances occur. Most times I just have so much rage that I wouldn’t be able to have a calm dialogue with these so-called men. My reaction is to cuss at them or something along those lines. I know that doesn’t solve anything, but it makes me feel a little bit better.
This has happened on several occasions and one time I had to involve the cops because the guy had grazed my breast, trying to get my attention as I was listening to my ipod.
I just wanted to share my story that even in open-minded San Francisco, CA, shady stuff can still go down. This behavior is universal and sometimes it’s hard not to be disappointed in humanity. I will truck on and have promised myself to work on using my voice in a productive way when these situations happen, cos sadly, I know it’s going to happen again and again.
Submission by Madeline