Clara’s Story: “I don’t like it”

I was walking down the street in the early afternoon, after babysitting. I was wearing shorts and an old red t shirt. I hadn’t showered in two days and thought I looked gross. It was hot outside.

I was crossing the street when a middle aged man said in a forceful voice “I would f**k the shit out of you.” As he passed, he was so close to me that I could feel his breath on my ear when he said it.

I was shocked. But I have decided that I am not going to take it anymore. I will not be passive. I turned around and shouted “Excuse me?” Before responding, he looked around and repeated himself. “I would f**k the shit out of you.” He shouted it louder this time.

I never would have thought that would happen to me in a nicer neighborhood in Manhattan or that it would happen on a day when I looked like I rolled right out of bed. I dressed like that purposefully because I thought it looked bad. I don’t like getting cat called.

I always feel helpless when I think back on that and other times I have been harassed on the street. I was not trying to get anyone’s attention. It’s hot outside, I would like to wear shorts.

I feel stressed out when I know I have to walk outside and be exposed to eyes that will follow my legs as I go by. Or when I get the courage to meet a stranger’s eyes in confrontation only to get a smile back as if he likes that I have given him attention. Don’t do that. I don’t like it.