My timeline of secrecy… I will not keep it to myself anymore.
I have been sexually harassed times before in public places.
The first time when I was 11 or 12, after school a friend and I were standing at a Walgreens photo kiosk and a man was pretending to grab a snack on the lower shelf, when I realize that he has been there way too long to get something. I look again and see that he has a video camera aimed up our catholic school skirts. I yelled “Hey!” and he ran. I didn’t know what to think. I explained what I saw to my friend and aside from how barbaric that is, we’re glad we always have shorts under these skirts.
After that, about the rest of the time I have spent my middle school and high school days in San Francisco, I may have been “goosed” on my rear end maybe a total of 4 times by middle aged men way older than I was. The places that this occurred usually were in crowded places like a Chinatown street or store, or on public transportation. Quite frankly I’ve been paranoid since of people sliding past behind me. I’ve been more cautious; I trust no one and assume every man can and will potentially do that.
I’ve told my family once about an incident and they laughed at me and said, “the next time that happens, make sure you step on them hard and make it public.” I was embarrassed and a little mad that they even laughed and dismissed it so easily; logically, yes, it’s that simple, but it altered my perception of safety being female.
I left to a university in Southern California and felt completely safe, or safer to much greater degree. For one thing, shorts and tanks were everywhere; everyone was my age with young bodies. Sexual violations were rare especially with the amount of hormones and alcohol involved, it seemed like it gave permission to do something stupid today and regret it tomorrow (I may be over-exaggerating, but it is what it seems). Plus, there’s an escort program provided by the school that aided in that security.
And then I came back to San Francisco. I am now 23. I’ve forgotten how it is. In my neighborhood, never ever has it happened so close to home. I was walking back and a man on a bike, with a cap and a messenger bag groped me from behind and sped off. My reaction was not quick enough. I looked around and there was no one. I am afraid to be walking my own streets by myself… Two days ago I saw this same man speed off in front of my house window. There was no time for me to snap a picture, but I felt like I would see him again. I wondered if police did anything about these cases of sexual harassment or if there isn’t enough proof to do anything about it. Then I found this site.
This picture I took of this man today didn’t physically or verbally do anything to me. I was waiting for a bus alone and I could tell from my periphery he was staring at me, you cannot mistake it because traffic comes the other direction. I was texting meanwhile to speak to someone so I can feel a tad safer. A woman and her family decided to stand around me thankfully. But as I was out of his gaze hiding behind this woman, he stepped back to get a good view of me as I pretended to constantly look up to check for a bus, but really checking to see if he was still looking; he would advert his eyes each time I looked up his direction. I didn’t want to be followed. I remembered the Hollaback site. So I held my smartphone up to snap a picture. He turned around to dodge it and I was afraid I wasn’t going to get a clear picture. But the shutter time was perfect. I sent the picture to a friend in case anything was to happen to me, or if this man was offended and decided to take my phone, etc. After that, he crossed the street and left. He didn’t even bother to wait for a bus anymore. I was relieved. Now I wonder, taking a picture so openly and obviously, if I was creeping on a creeper, a little ironic. Technically in this last story I have told, nothing happened. It doesn’t neatly fall under a definition of harassment that I can bubble in. I was only fearful and creeped out. I may have prevented something from happening; I’ll never be sure of that. But if I did, this picture is of a man that I (or anyone) may be careful watch out for.