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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.
I was walking to lectures at about 11am in the morning. I was wearing a pair of high waisted trousers with a long sleeved crop top, a leather jacket and a pair of wedge boots. I left the house feeling confident and really liking my outfit that day – I thought I looked classy and put together. The only skin I was showing was less than an inch of midriff, when I had my jacket off. By the time I arrived home that evening I was angry and upset.
I was verbally harassed continually throughout the day. A man called me a ‘slut’ as i walked past him, just before I was wolf whistled at by some builders. A man called me “maggie no-tits” (?) and two men beeped at me from a van and slowed down to wave at me. This all happened in the half hour walk between my room and Uni. After my first class I was in a University building and some contractors who were doing repair work whistled and made comments about my outfit . I then was walking to lunch and I overheard a boy discussing at length with his girlfriend about how “attention-seeking” my outfit was. To my relief and smugness, she did tell him to “shut up because she probably doesn’t care, and neither should you”. You go girl!
Walking by a construction site, a worker called out, “Hello… You don’t have to walk so fast all the time.”
Worker 2: Why you don’t do your work?
Other workers *laugh*
Worker 1: Man he wants me do my work, then HE carries her home.
All workers: *uproarious laughter*
Me: I’m not an object and none of you will be taking me ANYwhere. I will tell your boss, [name here], how disrespectful you are.
So glad I knew the head of that site. It saved me weeks of harassment as I walk by there daily
I was on the city bus on my way home. There were at least four school aged kids on the bus. One of them was a little on the shy side. One of the girls just walked up to her and started screaming and yelling at her for no reason. I felt the need to stand up for her. So I told the girl that was screaming and yelling to go pick on someone her own size and stop being a bully.
I’d just finished running, so I was in nike shorts and a t shirt. It was pretty cold outside, but I couldn’t be bothered to put on a sweatshirt because I didn’t want it to get all sweaty, so I just walked up to the store in my running clothes.
I got to the intersection and stood there waiting for the light to change, and this white van pulls up and stops at the stoplight. It’s a white construction van from a well known construction company. The guy must be at least in his thirties, and he calls out, “You look a little cold. Do you want my jacket?”
I literally just stood there speechless and very confused. For the first couple of seconds, I thought, “Is he trying to help me? Do I say no thanks? What…?” Then, I realized he was catcalling me, a fifteen year old girl, and…I walked away without saying anything.
It didn’t really make me feel anything at first. Later, though, on the walk home, I began to steam. I felt dirty and gross and objectified and I was pissed. At this random dude who was at least twice my age and at myself because I didn’t do anything. I had no idea what to do.
Now I do.
There was one time I was meeting my boyfriend after school in Cleveland Park, but I got there a bit early. I just wandered around a little to pass the time and this guy, who must’ve been at least 30, rolled down his window and shouted, “hey you! Yeah, you! We should go on a dinner-date! Come here!” I didn’t do anything, I just kept walking.
I was 16 at the time and maybe this doesn’t sound like harassment, but you can’t just demand that kind of attention from someone. I was so scared.
Then of course about five minutes later a dude in a hoodie passed me by and whispered, “hey sexy.”
Needless to say, I was really happy when my boyfriend finally got out of classes.
Verbally harrassing a female on the bus
Twice in two days now.
On the bus, with my three young (under 10) daughters. My middlest is chatting to the bus driver. The bus driver says ‘you’re really cute, but not as cute as your Mummy’.
On my way to the museum with the girls this morning, an older bloke leers over the bus seats at me and says ‘are these your little sisters?’
Stop fucking harassing me via my children!