Visual artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh talks about taking on street harassment with her campaign “Stop Telling Women to Smile” on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show.Share on Facebook
Archives for June 2014
I was walking to my train along a main road. I thought today I shouldn’t get anyone harassing me from cars – even though it’s summer I’m wearing a suit jacket buttoned up, knee-length skirt plus a scarf so these idiots know I am not interested in their opinions on my outfit.
However even over my headphones (which I use as a blocker) the White Van Man’s whistle still gets through.
I mean come on, do I look like a DOG? Pathetic.
Location: Treforest, Wales, UKShare on Facebook
My friend and I were on a train at about 2 p.m. last week. There were two people across from us and a man behind them. As my friend was talking, I glanced away and saw that the man was looking at me–he looked right into my eyes–while vigorously masturbating.
My heart started pounding and I told my friend not to look but something terrible was happening on the train. She asked me if we should try to get away from where we were, but there was no way to get away except to walk past the man. As the train started slowing down at the next stop, we decided to move toward the other end of the car where there were more people. I couldn’t think of anything but getting as far away from this person as possible.
When I got up I wasn’t thinking, and my phone and sunglasses, which had been on my lap, fell on the floor right in front of the man. I scrambled to pick them up as the train came to a stop and the man picked up my sunglasses and tried to hand them to me. I was so disgusted that I backed away and couldn’t look at him and my friend took the glasses, still not aware of what the man had done. He got off at that stop.
My friend was really sensitive about the whole thing and I was glad to be with her. She didn’t brush it off or pretend nothing happened, but neither of us knew what to do. The first and only other person I’ve told responded by laughing and saying “people are animals.” (When he realized that the experience upset me, he was kinder, but I haven’t wanted to talk about it since then.)
What upsets me most is that the image of this man’s penis and his horrible stare keeps coming into my mind at random times. I can’t escape that thought now–I can’t run away from what he did. And each time I’ve waited for a train or bus, I’ve worried that I would get on and find this man standing there, staring at me, smiling, his hand moving back and forth behind his briefcase.
Location: Brown Line train, Chicago, ILShare on Facebook
I visited NYC for the first time a few days ago. I’m a 17 yr old from Pittsburgh, PA, and I had never really experienced street harassment. Rarely, someone will honk at you, a rouge boy will yell but Pittsburghers don’t really talk on the street, it’s frowned upon, yelling gets you glares.
NYC was…. appalling. Guys will yell nasty things, a homeless man got close enough to me to whisper “youre pretty as fuck” and then I quickly walked away before he could continue. Older men came up to me telling me I was beautiful, and would not go away when I clearly said fuck off. I was standing with my mother in Times Square, and a man got in kissing distance said, “Hey pretty lady lemme talk”
I said fuck off, my mother said fuck off, and he told me that if I just get in his car, give him my number, I could be a model. Oddly enough it was the stares that were the worst. Men of all ages would just stare keep making eye contact, doing all sorts of shit with their eyes.
The most terrifying instance was the subway at night. No, it wasnt the boy who leered at me and whispered nasty things, it was the old white man, old enough to be my grandpa.
I was standing on the R train with my mother and he started staring at me then moving closer. My gut told me I needed to move, now. I moved away and he followed and began whistling this weird little tune and got louder and followed me. He walked past, up and down me, nodding and laughing and whistling. I wish I had the words to describe the vibe. This guy was rapist serial killer crazy, the kind of eyes you have nightmares, gave me the kind of gut feeling that something will go wrong. Terribly wrong. He kept getting closer, leering whistling and laughing. Finally his N train came. He saw I wasn’t getting on, got off whistled one last time and laughed. He walked away towards me, but by the grace of god, got on another train. I can’t describe the terror. I wish I had a video of this man. I honestly thought that was it.
Location: NYCShare on Facebook
I was walking to university in the morning and stopped to cross a road. I always walk with my ipod in to help pass the time, but when I cross a road I take my headphones out to hear the cars. I looked both ways and accidentally made eye contact with a man next to me. He took this as an invitation to start talking to me. He was far older than me, and whilst it may seem quick to make such a judgement, he just seemed ‘creepy’. He told me his name and asked mine, he told me I was very pretty, and tried to ask more about my life, what I study, etc. I smiled at the compliment and gave 1 word answers to his questions (without revealing too much personal information about myself), but I was clearly showing that I did not want to talk to him and wanted to get on with my walk by myself. The traffic lights then finally changed to red, making the cars stop, and allowing us to cross the road. I said goodbye to this stranger, he said bye and said it was nice talking to me. I thought this was the end and hurriedly continued my walk with my headphones back in, not thinking any more of it.
However, half an hour later when I was walking up my steps into my university building, someone called for me to ‘slow down’. I turned around and to my horror, this stranger from the road crossing was right behind me! He thrust a small piece of paper into my hand, told me to call him, and then left. The paper contained his email address and phone number.
He had followed me for half an hour and I’d had no idea. He must have been stealthy, always keeping the right distance behind me, whilst not losing me.
I was scared. He now knew exactly where I studied, he knew where to find me if he wanted to again. If he’d followed me then without me noticing, how many other times could I have been followed without knowing?
I was also annoyed, angry. What made him think he had the right to intrude into my life? Because I was polite and smiled at him rather than telling him to fuck off? Do we really need to be that rude to every stranger we pass in the street just to prove that we do not in fact want to talk/date/fuck them?
I know in this story I do not mention the man doing anything that seems aggressive or violent. But I am a young vulnerable girl, he was at least twice my age and a lot bigger than me, and he chose to spend half an hour of his morning silently following me.
Location: London, UKShare on Facebook