Anne Marie’s story: “I declare this verbal war: won.”
Today, like every other day, I was sexually harassed by a man on the street. As I was walking to my university’s student association to draw money from the ATM, two older men were sitting directly outside the entrance door. As I walked into the association, one gentleman said “ooooOOOOOO siiiiiim Senhora” in a sexual manner.
I continued to the ATM, withdrew money, and walked back out the same entrance. The following conversation occurred (in Portuguese mind you).
Me: Can I ask you both a question?
Them: Yes of course.
Me: Imagine that you are walking and a homosexual man said “oooo sim senhor” to you sexually as you walked by.
Man 1: What? Are you a homosexual man?
Me: No. Imagine if a homosexual man did that to you. How would you feel?
Man 1: I don’t understand, where did this happen?
Me: No. Use your imagination. Imagine a situation where you are walking and a homosexual man called out to you sexually. How would that make you feel?
Man 2: I have a lot of gay friends, so I wouldn’t say or do anything about it.
(Sidenote: I find this hard to believe considering the amount of anti-gay sentiment. I find it hard to believe that he has “a lot” of friends who are openly gay, especially at his age. But hey, maybe I’m wrong, maybe he has a lot of gay friends. Who knows?)
Me: Ok. I don’t believe you. You probably can’t imagine it because it has never happened to you. But everyday that I go out, men call out at me in the street-
Man 1: Because you’re very beautiful.
Me: But I don’t care if old men find me beautiful. Why do I care if you think I’m beautiful? You are egotistical to think I want to know anything about you or what you think about me or my body. And I shouldn’t feel like I can’t dress the way I want –
Man 2: Yes you can dress however you want.
Me: No! I can’t! Because if I dress nicely then men harass me. I shouldn’t have to feel like I can’t walk on my own university campus without being harassed by creepy old men. How old are you?
Man 1: Me? uh… well..
Me: Exactly! You’re disgusting for commenting about me or my body. You are so old! And I nor any other girl wants to know what you think.
Man 2: Well you are in Portugal now and things are different here.
Me: No they are the same everywhere in the world, and it doesn’t mean that you have a right to harass me and it doesn’t mean that it’s okay.
Man 1: But I am not harassing you, I am telling you something nice.
Me: Objectification of my body is not nice. It is disgusting. I am a human being with intelligence, not a body walking around for you.
Man 2: Well Portuguese women like it.
Me: NO. They don’t. Every woman that I have spoken to thinks that it is disgusting too.
Man 1: No no no no. Women like to know they are beautiful. You are the only one with a problem.
Me: No. I am not the only one. Women don’t want to know if creepy old men think they are beautiful.
(Two girls walk by)
Me: Excuse me, girls, girls! If a man whistles or hollers at you, is it something good or something bad?
(At this exact moment another girl walks by)
Me: Excuse me, wait wait, if a man whistles or hollers at you, is it good or bad?
Man 2 stands up and walks to the entrance: Listen I wasn’t being mean to you, and now you are being mean to me and embarrassing us –
Me: Nooooo! Why do you feel embarrassed? Women obviously love that you comment on their bodies as they walk by! You are clearly right! Did you hear what they said? They said they love when men whistle and holler at them! There’s no reason to feel embarrassed! Feel proud of your behavior because you are obviously right!
Man 1 stands and reaches out to touch me: Listen, what is your name?
Me: Do NOT touch me [I put my hands up]. Do not come near me.
Man 1: Ok you are crazy and mean.
Man 1 walks into the association too.
I declare this verbal war: won.
Even if they think *I’m* crazy or weird, maybe they will think twice before they holler at another woman… and if they don’t, I will be ready again.
In any case, even if hypothetically I am crazy and/or mean (crazy, I will admit to, mean? I don’t think I’m mean), two old men should not be sitting outside the entrance to a University Student Association and then sexually harassing women as they enter.