Noda’s Story: “I don’t understand why we should be made to feel in this way …”

So, I have been thinking about this thing for a while, and I actually didn’t realize how big of an issue it had been with me until I took some time off thinking about it.

There has been this one time, among many others to be honest, which has really tampered with my confidence of walking around at night.

It was during spring, I was going back home with a friend (also a girl) after a couple of drinks out, but was not wearing anything particularly showy and it wasn’t really late either. The area we were walking in was kind of famous for being a quite safe area to walk around, so we didn’t think much of having to walk back.

As we are chatting I noticed this guy on a bike riding past us and openly staring at me and my friend. Now as it is quite common to get stared at in Japan, I didn’t make much of it. After another ten minutes the same guy passes again, but then again, I was a little bit on the tipsy side I guess, and generally being quite self-confident I don;t mind these kind of things very much.

But when after another couple of minutes the same guy comes back from behind me on the pavement and gropes me real hard before rushing away I was left in shock for a while.

I had never experience harassment in a physical way, and was was taken aback by what had just happened. I felt like crying and screamed back at the guy who had already ran away. My friend had not witnessed any of it until my scream. She asked me whether I wanted to stop in one of those 24/7 convenience stores, but I just said I wanted to go home.

After this incident, it came quite easily to joke about it. Everyone was just saying it must have been my “popularity” or stuff like that, and I was playing along.

Until I realized that because of this experience, and some others I had later in the future, I feel very defensive walking in an area with people I don’t know, and in particular I feel defensive of men in general.

I don’t understand why we should be made to feel in this way and also why it seems to be a matter of course to take these things lightly. I want to feel safe when walking around by myself, without anyone creeping up on me from behind touching as they please.