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I’m au pairing in Nantes this year, a city full of bicycles. Riding from work tonight, I just tackled the one hill on the way home and was stoked that I’m getting better at it when two scooter twats start catcalling and riding around me. Instantly too nervous to even try to decipher insults in a language I’m struggling with at the best of times, let alone when my mind is racing with the implications of where this could lead and calculating just what my odds would be… I felt threatened til one of them kicked the other on his scooter and the other fell, stopping them both to collect a piece of scooter and fight between themselves.
I’m not sure if this really counts as harassment, but it was something that really bothered me as a child. When I was younger, whenever I went out shopping with my mom she would point at other women, nudge me, and say “Am I as fat as that lady?”. My mom had some body issues so she would pick out middle-aged overweight women (or sometimes just slightly chubby ladies), and I’d always be put in the awkward position of having say, “No mom, you’re not as fat as her” or something similar. This was particularly painful because she almost always said it loud enough for the women to hear (maybe on purpose), and when I’d tell her she was being too loud and it was rude, she’d only speak louder and exclaim, “Don’t be ridiculous! She can’t hear me.”
This was harmful behaviour because not only did it do nothing to help my mom’s body issues, but it also taught me as young kid that your worth is determined by your weight (luckily I got over that). It also told the women she picked on that they couldn’t go outside without being judged by their appearance and put into competition with other women on the street… even when they were just trying to shop and minding their own business.
I was walking to catch a bus in Toronto when a man pulled up beside me in a convertible and said:
“hey, baby, do you like things that go fast?” he then revved his engine.
I flipped him the bird. He had friends in the car and they all said “boooo” and drove away (fast.)
So that’s what I actually did in that situation, but here’s how I WISH I had responded to the question “hey, baby, do you like things that go fast”:
“Sir, I don’t think you comprehend exactly how much you have failed at attempting to use what we refer to as the ‘innuendo’. You have asked me if I like things that go fast and then revved the engine of your car, suggesting that you not only care little for the environment, but also that your car does, in fact, go fast. The issue is that you are not only insinuating that I should appreaciate your car, but also you, the instigator of this poorly executed, yet entirely offensive act of sexual harassment. The problem with your innuendo is that you, as I mentioned, are using your car as a metaphor for yourself. This means that by implying that your car goes fast, you are also stating that you “go fast.” Thus, in asking if I like things that “go fast” you are asking me if I enjoy men who “go fast” in a sexual sense, meaning that they orgasm quickly. So, to answer your question honestly, do I like men that “go fast?” No, I don’t. In fact, I feel like most people prefer sex to last over long periods of time. Hardly anybody wants it to be over quickly. You and your car are both equally disappointing. Go fuck yourself.”
I didn’t get to give the above speech, and that made me sad. The moral, my friends, is that things that go fast lead to disappointment.
I feel better getting to write that here. Thanks!
Bad: driving out of the Barnes Crossing parking lot, I stopped at the intersection next to one of those lifted trucks with ridiculous shocks. Two young-ish guys were in the cab, & just as I was making my turn, the driver yelled, “There’s gonna be a party in my pants tonight, & you’re invited!” I know, I know, creative come-on, huh???
Worse: my BF was with me, & demanded I pull back around & chase them. I did not, partly because I felt embarrassed enough & just wanted to get away from the scene of the crime, but mostly because I didn’t wanna have to bail him out for assault (I don’t have the $!!!).
Worst: my DAUGHTERS were in the van with us. I now get to try to explain to them everything that was wrong with that whole exchange. F***ing fantastic!
Hi. I am a pre-op transsexual woman, and I have lived in West Hartford for over 11.5 years. I have been ‘out’ since May of 2006, and have worn women’s clothing 100% of the time since then. My life has been about transition since coming out.
Some people read me as ‘guy wearing women’s clothing,’ and other people read me as ‘woman,’ or ‘girl,’ it is hard to tell.
I am writing because I read about this website in Marie Claire earlier this afternoon, and was catcalled at about 2:10 pm today not very far from where I live. The people who catcalled me were roofers working on someone’s house. I was walking down the street, which I do quite often, and I was starting to feel good on my walk. I had just passed a woman who was on a bicycle and she smiled and said hello to me. I started to feel better and was going over my thoughts in my head when I looked across the street to my right, and there was a man staring at me. I quickly looked away, but not before they had seen me and I heard a loud yell from one of the roofers on the roof, responding to me. I tried to get a gauge of the situation but I could not, there were three or four of them and I wanted to look away and get out of there. I felt lower energy after they catcalled me and had a frown on my face. Before they did that I was smiling and I felt good about myself. West Hartford is a very negative energy place, and there are lots of these types of people around here. I usually avoid them, but I cannot always.
I had an experience a week ago Friday, as well.
I was coming out of the salon, where I had just gotten my haircut, and I had had a very good appointment. I walked about 30 feet down the street and I heard someone from the corner of my awareness say ‘Hi Sweetheart.’ I knew immediately that it was a deadbeat in a truck, and so I didn’t look. He then moved his truck closer and I heard him say ‘Hi Sweetie.’ I looked, and he had his window rolled down and had slowed down to do this to me, and I gave him the finger. He seemed to feel some sense of fulfillment, then he went on his way.
I have been catcalled by young girls on that street, as well.
I have also had a young girl take my photo, as well.
I have had truckers honk their horns, a man shout from his pickup truck in a busy Blue Back Square, men who were working for the town whistle at me across the street, a man catching my attention to blow kisses at me from his pickup truck, and I have had a man stalking me in his van in Avon, CT.
These experiences leave me feeling unsafe, uncomfortable, nervous, frightened and scared, and I often will have difficulty sleeping at night after an experience like these, depending on the severity and the situation.
I rarely seek help with these experiences, although I do talk in therapy, and often will talk with friends about it.
I feel as though I cannot control what these people do, so I try to ignore it.
Today I wondered if those men who had catcalled felt better after doing it, or worse. I know that I would feel terrible if I did to someone what they did to me. I know that I felt slightly less after they did that to me than I did a split second before they did, so it confuses me as to why these men do this.
I can only hope that men like this will become obsolete over time, and have to either change their ways or be outcast themselves.
I would like to see catcalling, bullying, ridiculing or otherwise verbally harassing someone = mandatory 2 years in jail.
Thank you for the ability to write this information.
A white car stopped to let me cross the street at El Cerrito Plaza. Suddenly, I start to hear strange noises that sounded like animals. The animals were the two men in that white car who screamed aloud so that anybody in the street could notice I was the “cause” of all that noise (at least that’s how I felt). Then they said something about my ass.
I’m not American, English is not my mother tongue and I felt so desperate that I couldn’t find the words to respond to that assault. I just crossed the street as if nothing happened, as if no stupid animal full of testosterone was in that car.
I’m really only sharing this story for two reasons:
1. I said nothing at the time and venting about it here with be something of a catharsis.
2. My mom is an old-school feminist. For context, she joined the boy’s track team back in the day–despite hearty protests by parents and staff–in order to force the school system to instate female sports teams. In other words, my mom is awesome and I want to express why.
My home town is a pretty nice area, but it’s also the hub of a lot of tourist activity. My basic rule is to avoid downtown at all costs because while the locals are typically upstanding folk, the tourists we attract are usually… well…
My mom and I stopped off at a gas station the other day on our way to go shopping and when we were returning to our car we saw that a van of at least four guys had parked beside us.
I’ve had so many experiences with cat-callers that I was filled with dread at the very idea of walking by. The driver even had his door opened, blocking my way to the passenger door. “Oh great,” I thought. “Here we go.”
But before I even got close, he pulled his door closed and for a brief moment hope filled me. Perhaps this was not going to be yet another story I’d share with my friends to the tune of “Why in God’s name do men behave like–”
“HEY BABY! WHOOO!”
And it was not simply one of them, but all of them howling and shouting and trying to get my attention.
I ignored them, got in the car, and pulled the door shut.
But my Mom? She didn’t say anything. She never has to. She simply gave them one look–a look capable of melting steel–and IMMEDIATELY the abuse stopped. The driver even began to wave his hands in a way that highly resembled someone pleading to not be shot.
This is not the first time my mom has put an end to abuse without saying a single word. She is only 5’2 and 100lbs, but if you holla at her daughter, she will rock you with just one look.
Walking, not having a good day, have my headphones in.
Some old guy loudly says hi, I mumble hi back and keep walking, he keeps shouting at me long after I have passed by.
I just ignored him so didn’t really hear what he was saying, but he was clearly pissed off that I didn’t stop to talk with him.
Guess what, folks? Sometimes people have bad days and are not going to be all smiles, and WOMEN ARE PEOPLE, TOO.
Some random stranger angrily shouting that I should smile more and pretty ladies should be friendlier isn’t going to make my bad day any better.
I am studying in Florence, Italy, for my final semester of college, and I was thrilled at the prospect of getting out of my boring North Carolina town and into a place renowned for culture and fashion. Florence is amazing, but the men feel that they can stop and gape at you, or say all kinds of offensive things, and it’s part of their “culture.” A simple “ciao bella” as I pass by does not offend me–that is the kind of culture that is allowed, that is an appreciation of beauty; unfortunately it is used as a shield to justify more lewd statements.
I was walking home last week, and at an intersection waited for the light to change. A guy next to me eyed me, and then starting talking to me; I ignored him, which was easier since I was listening to my ipod, but he would not give up. From that intersection he followed me over four blocks to my apartment, trying to speak to me the whole time. He was so thick-headed that I thought it better not to turn and say anything, but to get away as quickly as possible; the language barrier also would have made it difficult. I made it home and took great pleasure in slamming the door in his face. What shocks me, though, is that all of the streets I walked were full of people, and it was 1 o clock in the afternoon, and no one did or said anything.
I frequently wear heels and dresses, but that DOES NOT mean that I am asking for it, and I dress solely for myself, not for men. This site has inspired me and I hope to admonish my next harasser, who I am sure I will encounter at some point tomorrow.
On Thursday, I had planned to go to a cheap taco place, go meet up with friends for dessert at Junior’s, and have an enjoyable day.
This group of teens has said things to me on and off in my area for a year and a half. I’ve tried everything – calling 311, calling the local precinct, attempting to reason with the ringleader after separating him from his friend, calling the local precinct, videotaping an incident, and calling the precinct a third time.
When I saw a group of young men out, I put my point and shoot in video mode and turned it on in my bag. When one of them yelled to me, I pulled the camera out and got a shot at their faces. They taunted me more, and I was set to walk away and bring my videos to the precinct the next day, though lord knows bringing anything sexual to the police is a gamble. One of them pulled down his pants and showed me his (surprisingly hairless) ass, to which I yelled without thinking “OH HELL NO, I’M FROM BROOKLYN, YOU BETTER KILL ME OR LEAVE ME ALONE.” One of them threw his cigarette at me, and said, “You better leave before we decide to kill you.”
I called 911 this time, and the officers tried to be nice, but they were too slow to respond, and the butt-flasher and cigarette-thrower had gone. Their friend got a summons for being aggressive and spitting, but that doesn’t exactly help.
Jesus fucking Christ, I just wanted a taco. Whenever a man on the street says something too vile or personal to ignore, I get this intense adrenaline rush that would probably enable me to pick a car up off my foot. It’s really uncomfortable – my heart starts beating so fast, I shake slightly, and I’m just so angry I can’t think straight. How dare someone say that to me, treat me like I’m public property because I’m a woman, and truly believe they are entitled to my time, my response, their satisfaction. I shouldn’t need to feel prepared to die to run errands in my neighborhood in broad daylight. I’d rather die than live in fear, but I wish I didn’t even have to think that way.
I know I didn’t handle this in the best way possible, but it isn’t my job to respond well to groups of men who intimidate me – I didn’t choose to be their target. They were wrong to target me.
Everyone I told this story to has said I’m so brave, but I couldn’t leave the house on Friday because I felt so fatigued after all of that adrenaline the day before. I went out with my boyfriend on Saturday, but I’m having a panic attack over the thought of going outside alone today, even if I avoid the area. If it’s not these guys, it will be others, and if it’s not today, it will be this week. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to do next time, especially if the police respond so slowly. I’m afraid of dealing with being treated like public property for the rest of my life, no matter how I carry myself or respond. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to do next time to survive, and what that’s going to do to me.