It’s not often that I get a sense of compete self-satisfaction and empowerment while attempting to tackle street harassment. The other week, however, my friend and I did.
The two of us were planning the best route to a mutual friend’s flat for a get-together that would allow us to travel as a pair. Funnily enough, this was an attempt to avoid any form of street harassment that we were almost expecting to encounter if travelling separately. Unfortunately, my friend had to get two buses on her own in order to meet me half-way, and guess what?
Hello street harassment!
She had decided to sit on the bottom deck of the bus and had chosen a window seat. Apparently this was an invitation for a creep to choose the empty seat next to her. He then proceeded to move in closer to her, squashing her against the side of the bus. If this was not uncomfortable enough for my friend, he then began verbally intruding on her,
‘Hey? Hey? Hey? Why didn’t you call me back?’
Of course, my friend ignored him. She had never met this man before and made it patently obvious she was uncomfortable through her body language and by not responding to his peculiar questions. This man may have been on drugs due to his odd behaviour, but he had still taken the decision to bother my friend over everyone else on the bus.
My friend carried on ignoring him when he finally said, ‘Have you had the baby yet, you slut?’
And nobody on the bus bothered to step in and defend my friend. Not one bystander told this man to back off. As you can imagine, my friend was incensed. This complete stranger had threatened her sense of safety in public and publicly humiliated her. Her sense of safety is already threatened simply because the notion that as a woman, her choice to be in public will most probably result in some form of normalised and socially accepted gender-based street harassment*. This disgusting creep kindly reinforced that notion for her.
Thankfully, the next bus my friend had to catch was creep-free and I met her on it further along the line.
When we reached our bus stop destination, we began to walk down the street towards our friend’s flat.
Lo-and-behold, there was my friend’s harasser on that very same street. He matched her physical description of him and it made sense he would be in the same area as us due to the bus service my friend had first encountered him on. The most telling sign was that he began verbally accosting her again.
Now I have a very low tolerance for bulls**t, and street harassment bulls**t is one kind of bulls**t I will DEFINITELY NOT tolerate.
I turned round to this utter creep and I told him that was he was doing was street harassment. I told him not to harass women. And I pointed my finger at him like he was a naughty child and managed to keep my voice steady despite wanting to freak out.
And it was a success!
He stopped what he was doing through the shock of being tackled for his inappropriate behaviour and my friend and I walked away.
We checked behind us once more to see if the creep as following us but I spotted him in the same place he was standing where I told him off. The shock must have frozen him! I turned to my friend and said, “I suppose this is what real female empowerment feels like.”
* This also counts for LGBQT individuals.
Location: EdinburghShare on Facebook