M. E.’s Story: “Keep your hands to yourself”

Today at a corner store in San Francisco my sister was grabbed by this man, whom she had never seen before. He cornered her and tried to hit on her, pulled on her skirt (like one does to see how full the skirt is), then grabbed her hand and kissed her all the way up her arm. She was terrified and broke away, but he followed her when she went out of the store. She called me in a panic. My sister lives in one of the most progressive cities in the country, and this is the second time this week she’s been harassed.

Taking one’s style of dress, appearance, or demeanor into account is irrelevant when talking about sexual harassment – NO ONE wants or invites or deserves this kind of behavior, no matter what they dress like or do on their own time – but even so, my sister dresses conservatively and told the man she had a husband at home. It didn’t matter, he kept going. No one in their right mind could say that this is acceptable behavior or that she “asked for it.”

Street harassment has happened to every woman I know. It’s happened to me. I’ve usually been too scared to say anything: it’s only recently I’ve learned I can tell a man “that’s not OK.” But I shouldn’t need to say that. Women deserve to feel safe when they go to the store. It’s something this schmuck should have learned in preschool: keep your hands to yourself.