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After attending a house concert for a collective in my city aimed at improving representation of women and non-binary people in the local music scene, I was unlocking my bike from the tree it was chained to. Two men in a sedan drove by and yelled “Bend over, baby!” at me. I was shocked at their rudeness and cowardice and especially discouraged after being in such a positive environment. Oh, the irony.
This happened on the street in NY, a fairly deserted street, walking home from the World Trade Center in the 1990’s. I was at the beginning of my 6 mile walk home, and a male followed me about a block and a half, and then started talking about “that ass. That’s a big ass you got there. Yeah, baby, that’s some ass, how’d you get that big ass.”
I believe I eventually told him to “leave me the fuck alone,”; in all likelihood, I told him I’d go to the police.
Such was the entitlement of all sorts of men back then!
My roommate and I were walking, when two (drunk?) men in their twenties (we’re both 19) were being rowdy around the intersection of Tremont and Boylston. My roommate and I ignored them–city life, right? Until they started running in our direction. We huddled a little closer under her umbrella, but the footsteps got closer and then began slowing down. She stood in front of me, since I’d had trouble with harassment in the past, and shot them a look.
“Hey,” the guys said. “So, what’s up?”
“Are you drunk?” she asked.
“We’re not weirdos,” they said, out of breath, looking us up and down.
“So,” one said. “What’re your names?”
“Nope!” my roommate said, grabbing my hand. We immediately ducked into Piano Row, since it’s an Emerson building and we’re both Emerson students. We were safe there, since the doors lock unless you have an Emerson pass key. We decided to stay there for a few minutes before continuing our journey home.
Two minutes later, the men were at the door, pressing their faces against it and looking at us. The security guard looked to us and asked if they were students.
“No,” I said. “They’re drunk, I think, and were harassing us on the street earlier.”
The security guard told them non-students weren’t allowed in the building, especially not at this hour (it was about 11, 12 at night). The men went away for awhile. My roommate and I had to get home to our room down the road, but were sure they were still outside.
A group of Emerson students, all female, approached the door, with the guys following them. The guys are telling them they are students and to let them in. My roommate yells to the girls, “Don’t let them in!” One girl actually has to push one back with her elbow to get him to back off. The guard calls for backup and two of them go out to really get rid of them. The group of upperclassmen girls walked us home.
The worst thing is that this happened on my campus. In my home. Where I live.
It is not an isolated incident.
My girlfriend receive lewd remarks directed at her by a man in a business suit. When she confronted the fellow he claimed she shouldn’t be wearing the shirt she chose to wear .
A middle aged man saying ‘I like you like that’ referring to my low cut top up in my face as I was walking through the centre of town at 11pm.
I was accosted by a man on my walk to the market. He complimented my winter coat then proceeded to ask creepily if I really needed to wear so many layers. He then followed me down the street lecturing me that women use sex to control men and that women have abortions because we are no better than murderers. I lost it. I began screaming until cars in the street stopped and the harasser ran away.
It was mid afternoon and I was having a late coffee break at work. I was walking back to the office after my break when a intoxicated man on the street started to call out to me. He said started to say things to me like “You’re a dirty whore” and he started to say all the disgusting things he would like to do to me. He followed me through the streets for about 1km back to my work while continuing to get more aggressive, I was terrified. I rang the police when I was back in the office to tell them what had happened and they told me not to worry about it, they knew the person I was talking about and this happened all the time.
Today, when I was biking home from work, a young woman was crossing the street about a half a block in front of me (not in a crosswalk), so I slowed down in order to give her enough time to walk across, but she made eye contact with me and started to walk slower. Therefore, I started to swerve to the center of the road to go around her. She moved to obstruct my path further, then stood still in my path, faced me, and made sexual gestures and comments. I swerved around her, trying to avoid any sort of engagement, but then I was stuck at a red light, where she and some of her friends, including a couple of larger males, were standing with her. As a group, they started making fun of my clothing. The nature of their comments made me think that they thought I was a lesbian, based on my clothes. I just stared straight ahead, determined to not engage with them, not wanting things to escalate, waiting for the light to change. A man walking by, who had seen the incident, told them to stop harassing people and threatened to report them to the police, who were visibly parked about a half block away. The group proceeded to make fun of the man’s clothing as he walked away. At last, the light changed, and I biked away. The thought of going to the parked police car did cross my mind, but, in the end, I decided against it, not wanting to make the situation worse for myself. I am still conflicted about whether I should have done something though.
I was running an errand for work, and was walking along the side of the street to head back to my car. As I approached an intersection and waited for the light to cross, a man in a car stopped to yell at me. He yelled “you’re so beautiful, do you have a boyfriend?” To which I ignored. My relationship status should be irrelevant- I’m not interested in you, do you really respect that another man has a girlfriend more than you respect my lack of interest? I shouldn’t need an excuse not to be interested. Anyways, when the cat calling was persistent enough, I looked up from my phone and said “excuse me?” with a dirty look. I noticed the man was not alone in the car, but had another woman sitting next to him. When I shook my head and looked away, he slowly drove by and said “You should say thank you when someone gives you a compliment,” and the woman next to him yelled “you’re the ugliest person I’ve ever seen.” I wanted to yell that sexual harassment was a crime and take his license plate number, but no one else was around, they were in a car, and I was scared. I regret not saying something else.
Two days ago I was walking down the street in Montreal, Canada in a knee length parka with black sneakers. A man coming towards me stopped in the middle of the street about twenty yards ahead of me and stared at me until I reached him. Then he stepped to the side and said loudly, “Nice woman!”
I felt like a piece of meat on an auction block. I felt the usual rage that not only has this type of disrespectful behavior been a regular occurrence for all of my adult life, but NOT ONE PERSON on the crowded sidewalk, male or female, even batted an eyelash when it happened. This man was able to act with impunity. Not only am I dehumanized by an individual, but I am reminded that society has normalized my dehumanization.
I had only just arrived in Canada a few weeks before, and now I am dreading the warm weather. If that’s what happens here to women dressed in a parka, I can only imagine what will happen when ill mannered males can actually see my female form.