I’ve been in Morocco for 3.5 days now, traveling with my 60-year-old godparents and usually a Moroccan guide walking through these cities. Even with this group around me, I could not possibly count the number of times men have blatantly (and creepily) stared at me, called me “beautiful,” muttered “nice” under their breath as I walked past, yelled from a passing motorcycle, etc. One man standing outside a restaurant called over to me as I got out of a car, “I was born for you!” Today in Meknes a guy outside a restaurant whispered to me “ich liebe dich,” which means “I love you” in German. This one, like many of them, was a restaurant worker trying to get customers to come in and eat and I’d like to think my refusing them service is an act of fighting back, but it’s not much. At least I’m not positively reinforcing their behavior. I wish I could single-handedly change the culture of street harassment in Morocco, but I guess I’ll settle for trying to at least make the occasional man feel uncomfortable after harassing me. I just have to start trying to say something when it happens.
Men along the sidewalk lined up, drinking in public. Said obnoxious things- compliments meant to intimidate, not flatter.
Harassment also happens to older women who walk. This has happened more than once in Rockville. I have been out walking because I do not drive and I choose not to take the bus. People driving by yell at me because I am walking (and wearing a hat). They yell “hey, I like your hat” and the like. It makes me angry because I am just going about my business. Once it even happened right by my workplace. I don’t know what to do.
When I was thirteen, I was taking the city’s metro back home. A man, far older than me, came and sat by me. He started to talk to me and told me I was too “sexy” to be that young. As I stood up to get off at my stop, he tried to block my path and trap me in the seat. Another passenger pulled him out of my way. I was so scared I ran all the way home, and didn’t tell my parents because I blamed myself for dressing a certain way. Without that man pulling him out of my way, who knows what could have happened?
It was about 11 pm and my sister and I were about to carpool to go visit my mom since she had just been in the hospital. My sister was about to get in my car when I heard a few whistles coming from the porch of someone’s house. I told them they were being disrespectful and to stop. As soon as I got back in my car they started up again.
I was driving to school, and a few men on the back of a garbage truck started yelling “hey sexy!” until I drove away.
I was with a group of friends and this girl referred to my other friend using “it”. It turned out this friend might be trans and the friend knew that when she said what she said.
Walking during the day to go have lunch with my sister I noticed a group of men following me yelling at me in another language. I understood and translated that they were harassing me. They followed me for a few blocks.
I started walking faster. I then found two older college aged girls sitting on the steps of a building just talking together. I approached them and said “hey girls so good to see you!” as if I knew these women as my own friends. I explained that I was being followed and they let me sit with them until the men passed me and walked around the corner. I am thankful that these women were protective and helpful.
Walking to the train station, someone in a car slows down to wolf whistle at me, laughs and makes revolting ‘kissy’ motions at me when I flip him off.
Company vehicle, crowded street (with kids) and he knew he’d get away with it. This is the culture women have to put up with. Demeaning and dehumanizing.
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.