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I live in NYC, and have experienced street harassment many times, both here and in other cities. However, the past few years have mostly been pretty free of issue, since I have a fairly tough ‘don’t mess with me’ aura. I’m rather more aggressive with strangers now, and men in general, especially after I was sexually assaulted by the host of a party I was at.
And none of it (the street harassment) really scared me. It pissed me off, but I kind of dealt with it. I figured, I was in public, so I was ok. And considering the man who assaulted me was someone I knew, I was aware that strangers aren’t necessarily the biggest danger or worry.
However, a few months ago, over the summer, I was coming home kind of late. I got to my bus stop in around midnight, 12:30. It was a weekend, so plenty of people were there, as usual, and my specific stop is right in front of a deli that I go in quite a bit.
This night, there was some (possibly) drunk guy there, bugging people. I ignored him, and was watching a movie on my ipod in the line for the bus. This guy came RIGHT up to me and invaded my personal space, asking about what I was watching. I put up and arm and told him to back off, and he did for a bit. But then he started trying to come closer, and saying things like ‘hey mohawk, hey!’ and then saying ‘I just want to put my hands on your hips baby, just want to put my hands on your hips.’.
I tried to ignore him, but then he actually tried to touch my hair (the side of my hawk was nicely fuzzy. Lots of people thought they could try to touch my head…) and to touch my waist/hips! I got so pissed off, I backed up, put up my hands and yelled at him to back the f- off and leave me alone, or else. (I had pepper spray on me, but I’d rather not use it if I don’t have to.) He didn’t, and I moved further down the line, closer to the deli. He tried to come closer and I glared at him, and then he went into the deli. My bus came a bit later, and I went home. But I was both scared, and pissed off. There were TWELVE men in that line with me, and others around. I was the only woman there. Now, I don’t expect other people to fight my battles for me, but seriously, not ONE person was willing to step up and say something to this guy. I was really scared going home, and I didn’t like that this guy knew what bus I was getting on. He hung out at the subway station near the stop for a few weeks after that, but either he didn’t remember me, or decided not to bother me again. Wish I knew about this site/movement before, so I could have have photoed him and holla’dback.
Submitted by Wendy.
Dear Taxi Cab Driver:
Hitting on me while I am confined in your car is fucking frightening.
Driving dangerously with anger when I am doing my best to ignore you and pretend to rifle through my blackberry is also fucking frightening.
Accusing me of smoking in your vehicle, when I am not a smoker, and then trying to use that as a base of conversation is asinine.
No, I didn’t tip you. Yeah, I called your company. That card you demanded I take sure did come in handy.
Submitted by RR
Walking to the subway on my lunch break yesterday I came upon a group of losers loitering around the entrance. I heard them call to a woman behind me who was also trying to reach the stairs to get to the platform. One of the men apparently needed some attention and proceeded to follow the woman, saying all sorts of things like “oh yeah baby, yeah…” I was like, who are you? Austin Powers? This is lame…So, with the girl behind me (who was trying her best to ignore that this creep was following her, I stopped and looked at the man and said “Why don’t you guys show some respect for women in the streets and stop harassing them? You don’t need to say things like that to women” in a totally quizzical and non-threatening manner. The guy’s eyes darted from me to the girl and back to me again and he was obviously very confused. “What?” he said, not so “smooth” anymore. In fact he just seemed like a dumb little boy and just sort of walked off. It was so easy. I kept walking and I heard the girl call out “Thank you” to me from behind me. I felt really good.
Submitted by Vee
I’m prefacing this story with the fact that I’m a person of color as race unfortunately comes up in this already crappy situation.
Yesterday, I woke up late for work and as I was scrambling to get out the door, I left my headphones and book at home – my usual way of blocking out street creeps. The whole day I was noticing that guys were just staring at my chest and saying creepy things. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t distracted by music that I was noticing it so much. After the third leering fool, I said to myself, “The next comment I get, I’m going to snap.”
On my way home from work, I had to walk through that long passage from the 1,2,3 trains to the L and I noticed that a guy was walking next to me and keeping in stride with me. I tried to ignore him but then he said, “You look like you’ve had a long day…” I continued to ignore him. Then he said, “Oh, that’s how it is? That’s how you get off?” And…I snapped. I said to him, “Leave me the fuck alone, dude. I don’t know you. Just get away from me and leave me alone.” He paused and then started to scream, “You stupid bitch. You stupid fucking bitch. Look at your converse – you want to be white, you fake white bitch!” I’m still in the passage way and there is no where to go but forward or backwards. I continue to say “Leave me alone.” and try to push through the crowd of people. He is still screaming until we get to the L train platform where he attempts to get into the same car as me but I duck into another one at the last minute.
I don’t regret saying something though I have this feeling of shame and failure as well.
Submitted by ACP
I went to the local shop which was just across the street from my house. It was dark and the street was empty apart from a white transit van across the road next to the shop door. As i was crossing the road a man got out of the transit. He screamed at me ‘You see you. I’m gonna come over there and fuck you. get hold of you by the neck like a ferret’. He was furious and punching the air to point at me. I felt humiliated and frightened because of his threat and anger towards me for merely existing! I ignored him and went back home.
What was worse is how the girls I lived with didn’t believe me. They just ignored what I told them. It was a double wammy – i felt angry that someone thought they could verbal threaten me in the street and worried about what could have happened. But then that no one cared made me feel plain stupid!
Submitted by Janet
I was 17 and working as a waitress in a small local restaurant on a fairly slow afternoon. A man in his late forties came in with his two sons, the oldest of whom appeared to be 13. They were the only ones in the restaurant, so I was cleaning tables and trying to keep busy while their food was being prepared. First the dad called me over to tell me how hot his sons apparently thought I was. Then he called me over to tell me that one of them wanted my number. Finally, he called me over and asked if he could take a picture of my ass for his sons. I just responded, “That is incredibly inappropriate”, and marched off to get my manager, George, from the back. Of course, George was like a dad to everyone there and threw down his apron and stormed to the front of the store in a rage to confront them. But by then, they had ran out of the restaurant. Without paying.
Submitted by Jackie
I was first verbally harassed by a man in an SUV walking east on fulton across from Marcy. He told me to “slow down, slow down” several times before I turned around and gave him the finger. I then crossed the street and went into a store.
On my way back, I was harassed a second time by a small group of young men outside the McDonalds. The first guy showed me a large wad of cash as I passed, while the second guy asked me “Can I taste it?”, to which I replied “that’s disgusting, have some respect!”
As I crossed the street and turned onto my block, I heard another guy behind me making comments and noises under his breath. It both enrages and scares me that this amount of harassment is a typical occurrence in a ten minute round-trip walk from my home to the store and back. I am still enraged and wanted to physically hurt all of these men. The tension I’m still feeling in my stomach also comes from fear of a backlash from talking back to my harassers.
Submitted by Diane
Last week I was walking down the street and I was on my phone. A man came up to me very close and said ” you are so sexy I want to sink my teeth into your ass”.
I turned around and told him what he said was totally inappropriate.
Wish I had snapped his photo so I could post it here.
Submitted by Leah
Okay. This isn’t exactly my story but it just HAS to be told purely for its awesomeness.
My sister, aged 19, was getting home one night from her boyfriend’s place, which is only about 15 minutes away, but since it was quite late she thought it better to wait at one of the bus stops instead.
Cue the creepy guy who followed her all the way to the bus stop and proceeded to leer and ask ‘How much?’ (for sex). What did my sister do? She pulled out a bread knife from inside her pocket, aimed it straight at this guy, accompanied by a pretty vicious sounding ‘FUCK OFF’. The dude backed right off, but not before muttering ‘bitch’ under his breath, according to my sister. Oh yes. As if he was the victim in this scenario.
I know that physical confrontation isn’t always the wisest thing to do in these situations but I’d be a damn liar if I said I wasn’t proud of my younger sister for holding her own!
Submitted by Melissa Y
Oh boy, do I have loads of stories to tell. This is one of the tame ones but here’s just a taste:
Summer 2009 – Walking to a friends house. Chatted up by a sleazy guy strolling a pram. With his little kid strapped in. Definite low.
Halloween 2010 – At general store in my local shopping centre wading through the costumes in the Halloween aisle and with little luck.
The same sleazy guy with the kid (now a toddler) is shopping in the same aisle. Doesn’t recognize me. Picks up “sexy” cat ears and tells me that I should wear this because it’s sexy and will suit me. Once again, whilst shopping for halloween costumes with his kid. Once again, in a very slimy tone.
There you have it. Both sleazy and forgetful. I only wish I’d taken a picture but hey who knows – he might forget me again and repeat his utter douchery.
Submitted by Melissa