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I was introduced to this feeling of helplessness when I was 14, in the store my family owns. A man called me beautiful, grabbed my arm, and wouldn’t let go. It took a number of patrons around me to pry him off. That fear and powerlessness is still a haunting feeling, a source of a lot of discomfort.
This week I was deep in the city with a classmate for a show, mandatory for our course. I did not know that she would leave before it ended, well into the night, that sent me on the subway alone. I took off my accessories, tucked away my headphones, lowered my head and quickened my pace.
I thought I was safe when I got to the central hub, after waiting alone at dark stops and empty cars, riddled with nervousness and anxiety. I anticipated the worst. Surrounded by people I thought I would be okay, and I chose a spot on the wall close to the crowd. I felt a man staring from a distance. I felt his shift in his attention and I felt his intentions. He came up to me, put his hand against the wall behind me and pinned me in.
“Hey baby, where you going?” I did not look up, could not. I hesitated, but I took the opening and walked.
“No, baby, where you going? Hey baby. Hey, bitch. You fucking bitch.”
No one turned or looked around me. I could not look back to see if he followed. I rode the subway shaking, utterly alone, hoping my composure looked genuine. I got off wanting to run away. But another man stood from a bench as I passed, two blocks from home. “Hey girl, I got a question. No listen, don’t go. Bitch. You bitch. Don’t flatter yourself. Don’t fucking flatter yourself.”
I closed my door and broke down. I feel violated, almost like a toy. I’m uncomfortable, powerless, scared, and helpless. No security but a certainty. A bitch. What a fucking bitch.
Post with 9 notes
So this happened last night. I’m actually still upset and it’s so surprising to me how this has affected me so deeply. My normal public transportation route was redirected and cut off last night around 11pm in Brooklyn. The NYC MTA is pretty famous for that and everyone knows it’s to be expected. I Google mapped my way home and it said about a mile, so I figured I’d walk. So I’m wearing sweats, a hoodie, flip flops (obviously not the most beautiful thing or provocative). Immediately men, not homeless - regular ol dudes, out of nowhere, passing me on the street, outside of bars — start shouting at me — catcalling and it was so unsettling. Normally I’m used to some kind of catcalling 1-5 times a week, but usually it’s manageable and easy to ignore. But this was outrageous, every few paces. One guy said to me as I passed “I wanna tie you up and show how you should be treated,” and then was screaming at me down the street “I can tell by your walk that you want it” — men calling me honey, baby, boo. Not 10 feet would go by without a shout, I was actually legitimately scared. So I finally get to my corner and go into my regular bodega and I’m so shaken up at this point that I need to get water. In there are these 16yr old boys in there, couldn’t be much older, and they won’t stop talking to me and calling me baby and boo. I was just looking at the ground honestly trying not to cry. Still today, I’m scared, uncomfortable, I feel jittery. I have no idea how regular ol’ men with sisters and mothers and aunts and grandmothers can shout at women on the street the way they do. Any man who says that the things strange men say to women are “compliments” and not terrifying sexualized threats should be castrated.
Post with 6 notes
I think I want to start taking self-defense classes. I have been harassed walking home from school probably about 4 or 5 times. No one has explicitly threatened me before, but that’s probably because I’ve never said anything back to them before. I’m scared that if I muster up some courage and tell them off, maybe they will take physical action. Probably not, but maybe. I need to know that if I was ever in that kind of situation, I could kick someone’s ass, because right now I am weak and powerless.
How do you become powerful in the face of something terrible?
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Today I was stalked by an older man, when I was walking to the park with my toddler. I felt something off when I passed him on the street. After I had been at the playground for 10 minutes, the guy rides up on his bike. What I had suspected was confirmed. He approaches me, as I am playing with my young son, and asks my name. I tell him a fake one, then he asks if I am married. When I tell him “yes”, he says, “Oh, sorry about that.” Then he rides off.
I felt sick, and wanted to cry. My beautiful spring day at the park with my toddler was ruined. What kind of sick person stalks and pervs a young mother? I was scared for myself and for my son. More than anything, I was angry. I am angry. This is not okay!
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One day as I was crossing the street behind my apartment two men in business-seeming attire were walking and our paths crossed. I walked slightly in front of them. They were having a conversation and I could hear it but I wasn’t really listening to it until we got about ten feet away from each other and I realized I heard one man say to the other, “I wish I knew what that tasted like.” I turned around and they were watching me walk away and laughing. I yelled at him. Letting him know that he was disgusting but they just kept laughing.
I live in a big city and I’ve had this kind of harassment many times. In fact not a day goes by that someone doesn’t blatantly stare at me or comment on my looks, but this is the worst it has ever made me feel.
Just this morning a man said, “Good morning Beautiful.” to me on my way into the train station. I thought to myself how that was such a polite and nice way to greet a lady. He didn’t say it with any kind of sexual feeling in his voice. He was just saying hello and giving a compliment to a woman in a respectful manner. It’s funny how a phrase can change just by the feeling you put behind it. That phrase could seem creepy if only said differently.
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No Cat Calls - Watercolor, Pen, & Pencil on Paper
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I was fifteen and on my way home from the milk bar with a carton of eggs and a block of butter in my shopping bag. I wasn’t wearing anything anyone could deem ‘provocative’ (not that that’s even an excuse for anything) - long sleeved collared shirt buttoned up to my neck and a skirt that went down to my calves. I was waiting for the lights to change, so I could cross the road, minding my own goddamn business.
Then some hot shot idiot in his crappy car with a friend in the passenger seat pulled up beside me and both of them said something ridiculously rude and obscene related to my race (I am half Asian). This, naturally, made me really scared, humiliated and angry. When I ignored them, they were just louder and waving their arms. One of them caught my eye and I just put a totally confused look on my face and pretended I was deaf- terrible signing and everything (I had luckily just done a project on the development of Australian Sign Language).
It was literally the first thing I could think of and is probably massively offensive to hearing impaired people everywhere. I pretended I was deaf just so these dickheads would leave me alone. They drove off once the lights changed and after a sexist comment or two more. I generally don’t wish ill on people, but I really hope that they got a flat tire at an inopportune moment, or that they realised the next day that that meaningful CHINESE tattoo they got was a terrible idea. Or, even better, they realised that harassing people in the streets is a douchebag move and feel really sorry about it, but can’t find me to apologise. I doubt it, but it does make me feel a bit better.
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I work as a barista, so I am harassed virtually every day by people who think they own some measure of my life, body, and time just because they order a latte. Today, I was walking to the library from my job. I knew better, logically. I was wearing red, which always seems to catch the attention of creepers, and a skirt— ditto on the creeper front. The library is right next to the bus stop, and therefore is something less than family-friendly, but my book was overdue and I was hoping for a couple minutes safe haven with the books before my break was over. And, of course, I ended up with a large group of guys shouting at me that they ”liked my style,” staring at me the whole way up and back. Headphones kept me from having to interact, and I didn’t hear the rest of their comments, but I was miserable the rest of the day.
I get so TIRED of people thinking they have the right to comment on what I wear. And even if I know them and tell them to stop, they give me a range of responses from: ”Well, you must want the attention if you dress like that.” (In clothes, with an edge, not that it should matter given that I’m telling you you’re making me uncomfortable. Way to use the time-honored excuse of rapists. Also, thanks. Now I feel like it’s my fault.) To ”You need to learn to take a compliment.” (No. No, I don’t need to learn to take anything. Next, you’ll be telling me to lie back and think of England.) To an interesting set of comments that boiled down to ”I should be able to comment on your appearance because getting critically reviewed is important to our growth as people.” (Interestingly, no comment on my part. Still rather astounded by that one.)
More than the actual comments is the feeling of being hunted, like there’s no safe place left. Why am I suddenly public property? Even wearing jeans and a T-shirt doesn’t seem to help.
I get tired, so tired, of the ”sweethearts” and the ”honeys”. I get tired of the stares. I get tired of my manager yelling at me for not meeting the eyes of someone who intimidated me, because even passive-aggressive fighting back is rude. And most of all, I’m tired, so tired, of not being able to fight back. And honestly, I’m starting to get scared. And I hate it.
Post with 27 notes
I’m twenty-one years old and I work in a public space in my city. I see tons of people each and every day. Some strange, some polite, some your run of the mill characters of the city. Yet it is not until I leave my place of work to go to the bus station that I experience harassment. For the past month and a half, I have been harassed by the same person every Thursday. You see, on Thursdays I get off at 2:30 and that’s when the nearby high school lets out. This guy is seventeen. So not only is he barking up the wrong tree (I’m a lesbian), he’s underage. I have waited around work for fifteen minutes to a half hour. I’ve left early a few times. Yet every Thursday this kid is WAITING for me.
When it first began, I was wearing the universal sign of “don’t talk to me” aka headphones. He tapped my shoulder and I thought at first he was just going to ask what time the bus was coming. A lot of people who rarely ride the bus or who have never taken a bus are usually fidgety about it. I asked him if I could help him and he just said hello and asked for my name. I immediately gave him my go-to fake name because even such an “innocent” question, I’m sure as so many women know, can be followed by more intrusive questions from men. As soon as I gave him my alias, he starts chatting me up. Mind you, he is clearly a high schooler. He asks me where I work, if I go to school, etc. I gave him fake information and I made sure to include that I was definitely older. “That’s cool, I like girls who are a little older than me. Mature and sexier that way.” Normally I would have no problem dishing this kid a world of verbal hurt, but as he was saying this stuff to me, a dozen people were watching us and some were laughing. They thought it was cute that he was so ‘precocious’ or whatever the fuck you want to call it. I instantly shut down conversation. I answered in monosyllabic responses and I even put my headphones back on as soon as the bus rolled up. I made the mistake of sitting alone though because he followed me on and forced me into the window seat. I was effectively trapped on this full bus of people. He “playfully” pulled off my headphones and continued to talk to me. “Do you have a boyfriend? Does he treat you well? You look nice today.” At this point I was feeling a bit bolder because I was tired of his shit. I finally just said “Yes, but I have a GIRLFRIEND.” He got quiet for two seconds. He then began to ask about our sex life, how he would like to join in, etc. People around me were still silent or laughing. Finally after two stops on the bus I pulled the cord and told him to move. He had the fucking nerve to ask me, “Could I get a hug before you go?” That was the first time I ever yelled in a public place. I told him to get the fuck out of my way and to never touch me again. People laughed. He laughed. I got off the bus and walked ten blocks to my actual stop.
Like I said, I see this kid every Thursday. He’s tried to talk to me a few more times, but now he’s going after these other girls and women who ride the same route as me. There hasn’t been one positive response to him yet. I’ve finally gotten the courage to start inviting these women to sit next to me. We say hi and thank you to one another as he’s forced to sit farther back on the bus. We sit in silence but I feel this wordless connection to these other harassed women. Why are we the ones who look “crazy” or “ungrateful” whenever this seventeen year old kid harasses us? I’ve told transit security about him but they just laugh. “Boys will be boys.” Why is this the excuse?
Post with 19 notes
I have been sexually harassed many times, but there are two instances that have left a permanent mark on me.
The first time I was in my freshman year of college and walking down the sidewalk by the dorms and the road to get to the cafeteria. It was hot, as summer had not yet ended, and I was wearing a t-shirt and capri pants (I’m not a big fan of shorts because of previous harassment I’ve received and so that I can’t be called out on “deserving what I got” because of my choice of attire). As I was walking with my friend, who was wearing shorts and a tank top, a car full of guys slowed down next to us and began whistling and making inappropriate noises. We simply ignored them and walked on, sharing uneasy glances with each other. It was humiliating, as several other people from the campus—both guys and girls—and some individuals that lived in the community could no doubt hear them, the older individuals looking at me and my friend with disgusted looks on their faces like they thought we were egging the guys on. No, we just wanted to go pig out on pizza and ice cream.
The second time it happened I was alone and driving down to college by myself. It was the middle of the summer—I had to go down early for work—and I was wearing my Perry the Platypus t-shirt and a pair of shorts. I had recently had my hair dyed blonde as well (though I’m not sure if that adds to the harassment I received though I suspect it could have, as when I was in my natural auburn hair color I did get harassed just not to such an extreme amount). The AC in my truck is out so that was why I was wearing shorts, I didn’t want to barbecue alive. Just before reaching the state line a guy in some company’s car tried to pass by me. At least, I thought he was trying until, after ten minutes had gone by, I realized he was keeping pace with me. Looking over, I saw him roll down his passenger side window and then make a gesture for me to roll down mine. I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t know what he wanted and if he wanted to ask for directions, well, I get lost a lot so I couldn’t help him there.
This kept up for several miles, the cars behind both of us starting to ride our bumpers. Not wanting to cause an accident or anything—and because I wanted to pass the slow semi in front of me—I looked back over to see the guy holding up a sign that said, “You’re HOT!” I smiled politely and indicated that he should pass the semi so I could. Relieved, I saw him speed up and get over in front of the semi. I quickly got over so I could get by the semi—I still had two and a half hours on the road to go and I was getting tired—and tried to pass the guy but found that again he was keeping pace with me. I looked over at him again and saw that this time he was holding up a piece of paper asking me for my number. I widened my eyes and shook my head no.
The guy rolled down his window and began gesturing for me to do the same. I was getting really annoyed because he wasn’t paying attention to the road and was distracting me; the idiot was not thinking about the safety of me, himself, and the other drivers on the road. Not wanting to cause an accident because of his stupidity, I rolled down my window and screamed, “WHAT?”. He then asked me to pull over at the next exit but I shook my head and said I had to get to school.
This went on for the next several exits; he would not leave. Even when we crossed the state line he kept pace with me. Having had enough, I rolled down my window and said I would get off at the next exit to put an end to the accident waiting to happen. So, when the next exit came, he got off and I kept on going.
To this day nobody in my family knows about what has happened.
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