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SSH will not publish any comment that is offensive or hateful and does not add to a thoughtful discussion of street harassment. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, disabalism, classism, and sexism will not be tolerated. Disclaimer: SSH may use any stories submitted to the blog in future scholarly publications on street harassment.

“She turned to me and gave me the most relieved, grateful smile.”

In Stories, street harassment | on 12.03.12 | by | Comments ( 0 )

I was on the night bus in east London after a party coming home about half three. I was with my boyfriend and there were a few other people on the bus. There was one woman sitting by herself. When two men got on the bus, one clocked her straight away and made a bee line for her. He sat next to her on the empty seat while his friend sat behind them (there were loads of seats he could have chosen including the empty one by his friend).

The man struck up a conversation asking her if she was French. When she said no, he asked her if she was Spanish, then Italian and then she stopped replying and turned her face away from him while he continued to try to engage her in conversation.

I couldn’t just leave it so I said, “I don’t think she wants to talk to you, why don’t you respect the fact she’s not here for you to engage in conversation with, she’s on the bus just trying to go from A to B.”

She turned to me and gave me the most relieved, grateful smile.

He however was aghast that someone should challenge his behaviour and him and his friend both turned round and started yelling things like, “And who are you? Why are you getting involved.”

I told them to see it from a woman’s point of view, she is by her self at half three in the morning when two men surround her and she is forced to engage in conversation that this is intimidating behaviour. The man next to her carried on talking to her as she kept her face turned away as carried on ignoring him while his friend was saying, “It’s not that late, get your phone out and show me the time.”

He was also being really aggressive towards my boyfriend who was also speaking up for the woman. I had to stop him from speaking though as both men were getting aggressive in their tone towards him. I carried on however interrupting the man who was talking to the woman about respecting her personal space and she’s not his plaything on the bus to pass the time with.

When it came to our stop the man sat next to her (the main harasser) proclaimed, “Thank god.”

I again interrupted him with, “Yes, thank god for women like me who speak up for other women who must deal with sexual and street harassers like you who won’t take no for an answer.”

This actually seemed to hit a note with him, his face dropped as I said those words and he really seemed like he took it in and felt slightly guilty.

I really from the bottom of my heart hope I’ve opened his eyes.

- Nadine

Location: London, UK

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