Living in New York CIty, I’ve dealt with so much street harassment that I’ve come to feel it’s not even worth the effort to say or do anything in response… I just continue walking and hope that a terrible tragedy befalls the catcaller/hisser/groper/leerer/perv as soon as he’s out of my line of vision. Still, I’ve never really felt unsafe because I stick to populous, well-lit areas.
That all changed about a week ago when I was walking near the corner of 34th St. and 2nd Ave. around 2 pm on a Saturday. As I turned the corner from 2nd Ave. onto 34th Street, the creepiest-looking toothless man started yelling and cussing at me as he walked towards me, aggressively calling me a bitch and making a scene. No one who was walking by did a thing or even looked our way. Anyway, I just sneered at him, and then he really got in my face, yelling “BITCH! BITCH! BITCH!” over and over again. I flipped him off and kept walking because this guy seemed pretty unstable and I didn’t want to get into a physical confrontation with him.
As he passed me (he was walking in the opposite direction), I heard him continue to yell increasingly obscene slurs. I turned around and saw him making repulsive gestures with his hands that obviously simulated rape. Then he yelled, “I’M GONNA STICK MY DICK IN YOUR ASS AND PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH,” along with other absolutely repulsive things.
A few seconds later, after he was a bit farther down the block, the shock of this harassment had worn off and I was just plain furious. I backtracked and, because he was walking slowly, turned around to see him him turn the corner onto 2nd Ave (the corner I originally came from). I walked really slowly and kept my eye on him until he took a seat on a planter near the corner. As I walked toward him, I kept my eyes on my cell phone, pretending I was texting. Then I stopped, and when he noticed me there (I was about 30 feet away), he started yelling “BITCH!” over and over again at him.
I glared at him, and the only thing I could think to say to him that wouldn’t gratify him was just to say calmly and very condescendingly, “You are so, so sad.” Then I walked away, hearing him yell maniacally at me as I walked away. It was gratifying to have the last word, and to keep my cool and show him that no matter what he yelled, I would neither stoop to his level nor give him any indication that his behavior was acceptable.
I think the worst part of this incident, however, was that I felt completely humiliated, as if my old gray sweatpants and faded windbreaker had somehow invited this harassment. It was degrading just to repeat to my boyfriend the things this guy had said to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear about HollaBack until after the incident (I saw the New York Times article that mentioned it) so I didn’t take a pic… but I wish I had. I would’ve taken an entire photo album (joking… kind of) especially to warn other women in the Murray Hill area who might come across this jerk.
Looking back on it, I’m not sure if I would approach anyone like that again simply because I don’t want to risk putting my life in danger. Even now, as I write about what happened, my pulse is racing, both out of anger and from a feeling of being threatened by this loser.
I also didn’t know until a few days ago that calling 911 to report disorderly conduct could’ve resulted in a ticket for the perv. I’ve resolved to call 911 in the future when I’m harassed, because let’s face it: seeing one of the multitude of pervs in NYC being accosted by the police would be infinitely more rewarding than saying anything to men like the one I faced that Saturday.
Submitted by Allison
Not only does street harassment make you feel degraded. It is embarrassing, particularly when everyone around you is simply ignoring the situation. None of us should be alone in this, let Allison know that you have her back by donating here!