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I am not a native Oregonian and most locals are surprised to hear me say that I am excited for the dreary wet winters. Its true that I do enjoy the rainy weather, but the weather comes with an added bonus: the park where I walk my dog multiple times a day is finally deserted of the men who typically hang out there and harass women. It is a daily occurrence during the fair weather months and was something that I had not experienced with such frequency before. I have been followed and had my personal space invaded, a man screamed in my face about “how good I would get it” from him… all in broad daylight since there is no way I will set foot outside my apartment alone after dark. I always ignore the harassment but it always makes me so angry and frustrated and it is not an emotional state that I can simply “let go of” once I had moved away from the incident. I began wearing my headphones with my music turned up as high as I could stand and wearing sunglasses. If a man passes me on the street I keep my head down and do not make eye contact. This behavior served to discourage verbal assaults and my sunglasses make me more intimidating and unapproachable. Having my headphones in gives me the added bonus of not being in an emotional funk for the rest of the day since I cant hear an assault if it does happen. At first I was proud of myself for coming up with these tactics to make myself “impervious” to verbal assault, but now I have realized that I am not empowering myself, I am hiding. And I should not have to hide from anyone in broad daylight two blocks from my apartment.
(19) I was waiting at a bus stop and a truck with two males (who looked mid twenties) was at a red light as this is on a busy street . They cat calling and whistling at me . Staring at me like I was some piece of meat . I gave them an evil glare and they simply laughed at me . I was going to talk back but they sped off before I had the chance .
I was at my lunch break from work (where I was employed at the time ) , and I was in a busy section next to the El Torito and Nordstrom Rack so people were walking by . A car pulls up in front of me the guy (looked mid twenties) said “Hey how are you ?” I responded “okay thanks ” and started to walk away . He was looking at my body up and down as I walked away and said “Hey please don’t go while smirking at me ” .
Being stared at, catcalled, greeted by a random male stranger is a regular occurrence as I walk through the streets and parks of the small city where I work. The two most particular comments that I hear are that 1) I have pretty eyes and that 2) I should smile. I quickly realized that the best strategy is to carry my Iphone in my hand and stick in my earbuds. Even if I’m not actually listening to music I can pretend that I don’t hear anything.
However, two recent incidents still upset me when I think about them. The first: I left my house to walk the short distance to the bus stop. Between my home and the bus stop is a convenience store; outside of which was a man standing by his motorcycle who I could tell was waiting for me to walk past. How could I tell? Because he had just pulled up to the store as I stepped into the street and instead of going in he stayed outside and stared at me as I walked toward the store, making what takes less than 30 seconds feel like an interminable length of time. As I walked past attempting to ignore him because I already felt uncomfortable, he spoke, so I spoke and kept going. Here’s where things get scary. I got to the bus stop and a split second later the man drove past, turned around, and pulled up to me on his motorcycle. This man followed me to tell me that when I speak to people that I should smile! My first reaction was anger until I realized that he was so close that if he had wanted to hit me I couldn’t have avoided it because I was stuck between him and the edge of the road, which fell away into bushes and brambles. I quickly edged away, told him to have a nice day, put in my trusty earbuds and ignored him until he drove away. And this was not the first or last time a man that I did not know pulled up to me on a motorcycle at that bus stop way too close for comfort.
The other incident makes me seethe because, although not scary, I was with my son at the time and the impotent feeling of having a strange man touch me, suddenly grip my arm in front of my boy and I wonder how that affected him to see my anger and frustration and shock and I wonder if he was scared or angry. I have never talked to him about it. I just swept it away so that we could continue to enjoy our day. Also, because my child was with me, not being able to respond the way that I would have if I had been alone or with another adult, foul-mouthed and possibly committing an assault of my own on this man. The fact that I still occasionally see this wastrel as I walk through the city and remember his incredulous response when I yelled at him not to touch me, as if he had the right, that it was okay because he didn’t mean it in a negative way. How dare he?! HOW DARE HE?!
I was walking up a semi-suburban/retail area, in the early evening, on my way to meet my parents for a dinner out. I was just dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt and passed by a group of men hanging out in front of an apartment complex. I walked by, hood up, and one of them said, “Hey miss, how you doin’?” When I didn’t respond, he followed up with, “Alright then, have a nice night.” I heard the rest of his group laugh. I don’t know if it’s something that I should have been afraid of, but I was, and I can never get anyone to understand why I was afraid – they always say, “But he didn’t do anything, and he didn’t try to touch you!” But I didn’t know that. I don’t want to engage in a conversation with a group of men as I’m walking to dinner – I just wanted to go to dinner. I walked fast the rest of the way because I didn’t know if I was being followed, and I didn’t want to turn around in case that only caused things to escalate.
I have only lived in San Diego for 6 months and I have already had some experiences that have made me very uncomfortable to walk home from work in my “safe” neighborhood. I’ll start with the least disturbing occurrence and go on from there. I was on my work, sitting outside of Starbucks with my nametag on. A man said “You should smile, Hailey.” I think it was just because I was sitting alone minding my own business. Another time I was walking past this Starbucks when I followed the gaze of two men (one young, one old) as they checked me out from behind. The older man asked “what ethnicity are you?” to which, I didn’t respond and continued to walk, upsetting them. They became upset.
Here is where things get really messed up.
It was a hot night and I was wearing a short, yet long sleeved dress. My boyfriend and I were walking home when we had come to a stop to wait for the light to turn so we could cross the road. A suspicious looking man was waiting for a different light. He had a large jacket on, glasses, a backpack, and his hands in his pockets. Once he saw us, he immediately started laughing and moved to our side of the street. My boyfriend and I decided not to risk waiting with this man, so we turned around and began walking quickly in the opposite direction. We started running full speed when the man yelled “That’s right you keep running!”
Another occasion, I was on my lunch break again. I was walking past the grocery store when a man with a long beard approached me and asked if I would have sex with him. I looked him in the face (as you should do with suspicious characters) and continued to walk. He began screaming hysterically “of course you don’t want to have sex with me!, why would you want to have sex with me!? Come on!!!” To which I looked back and responded by telling him to fuck off. Maybe not the smartest move but, this was a busy shopping center in the day time. I immediately called the police and let the ladies at work know what he looked like. The police said they could do nothing unless he actually physically assaulted me.
This is possibly one of the creepiest things I have ever experienced. A man comes into the store where I work quite often, we will call him Jeff. He appears to be a man in his 40’s. I am a petite 18 year old that looks more like I could be 16. One night just before close, Jeff comes in and mentions that he had just seen me at a specific grocery store. I thought that was very odd because I hadn’t been there for around 3 weeks. I thought he might work there because I do shop there on my breaks and the employees talk to me. Turns out he didn’t work there. Jeff comes in again a few weeks later and gets something for his daughter. I help him find it and ring him up at the register. He begins to ask me questions about my job and make general but, invasive small talk. A few minutes after he leaves we get a phone call. I pick up the work phone. I recognize his voice. He introduces himself as the “bald guy” I just helped and asks if this is a good time. I figure it’s something to do with work and say “of course, how can I help?” He asks me if I’m single! I say no and that I have to get back to work and hang up. What!??? I let my manager know.
University employee (presumably from Facilities, as he had a university jacket) stopped working to tell me “Smile, baby!” He was working with several other men. I had earbuds in, which he pro a l I gave the man a disgusted look and walked away. The man apologized in a “oh, I’m sorry you were offended” manner.
My friend and i went to our local community centre to see a friend of ours that was performing. Remember, my friend and I are only 16. We were both dressed wearing simple simple modest clothing that was not tight or revealing as its still winter and its cold at night. We left after our friend had played and walked about 5 minutes down the street to McDonald’s. On our way we were stopped at traffic lights and 2 cars had drove past and honked their horns and were catcalling at us out the window. We didn’t let this phase us, continued to trek McDonalds, ate our food, and left.
As we are walking back the same set of traffic lights we are stopped by two middle aged men, we try keep our eyes on the destination, ignore their stares and not seem phased until one of them tries to high five me and hold my hand, this was really awkward. They compliment us and ask us where the nearest liquor store is and if we could walk there with them, we denied, said a polite goodnight and kept walking. We were both really scared at this point because silly us go walking alone at night, we’ve already had men stop us and we aren’t even halfway back yet.
So we’re about 2 minutes away, the centre in plain eyesight, 2 drunk men are approaching us, we move to the opposite side of the footpath, even contemplate crossing the road, I decide we would only make the men offended and angry if we did that. I whisper to my friend not to make eye contact, keep walking and do not seem phased by them.
They stop us, slurring, speaking to one another about our appearance and what they would do to us if they got the chance. One of them even says to me “no offence to your friend or anything but i’d totally root you” (this is typical Australian slang for sex) For me personally, it was one of the scariest nights i’ve ever had and i could only imagine what other women older and prettier than me go through on a night out. I felt dirty and downright disrespected having men I don’t even know comment and say disgusting sexual things to my face. I could also honestly write that if i had said what was actually on my mind instead of a simple “ok, thats enough, have a good night guys” me or my friend would have gotten verbally/physically assaulted or raped.
This needs to stop!
This was several years ago now, but my freshman year of college I would commute by walking down my street and catching a public transport bus to campus. On three separate occasions while walking home I was catcalled at. The first time was from two guys in a car going the same direction as I was (so they didn’t even see what I looked like from the front), and the passenger stuck his head out of the window as they passed, trying to get a better look at me, and stretched his arm towards me as if asking, “What, you’re not even giving us a response?” The second time I was walking on the other side of the street and I got yelled at from the passenger of a car coming from the opposite direction in which I was walking, and that made me even more tense since I saw them more clearly than the other guys. The third time was from a school bus with middle school-aged boys who yelled, “Nice ass.” In all three cases I didn’t outwardly react at all because I was afraid of provoking them further, but I felt extremely uncomfortable, angry, and confused-on none of the days had I been wearing anything even remotely revealing, tight, or “provocative,” though even if I had, that would not have been any excuse. The middle schoolers made me particularly angry and sad because it showed how these harmful behaviors and views of women are being pushed even at young ages.
The saddest part was when I complained about the catcalling on Facebook, and a female friend of mine said, “You should be flattered ’cause it means you’re attractive!” This is by no means the kind of attention I want, nor the type of people I want to be attracted to me, and telling someone to be flattered by harassment is absolutely the wrong response to harmful ideas and actions concerning women’s sexuality.