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“I wish I was your guitar, I’d let you play me all night”

Stories, street harassment | on April, 23, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

A girl with a guitar. Opens up a whole other vein of street harassment by men. I often walk around the city on my way to some venue or a practice with my guitar on my back. Many guys see that as an easy opening to try to talk to me. To be fair, I have on occasion met a fellow musician or two who actually plays or is in a band, and that is always legit. But the rest of the guys….. ayy.

“Do you play?” they yell out at me as I walk past. Um, I think it’s safe to say that anyone you see walking around with a soft cased guitar on them does play it.

“What kind of music do you play?” they shout as I quickly hurry by.

What does it matter? What if it’s a type of music you’re not into? You wanna become my newest fan? I seriously doubt it. I just keep walking hoping to put as much distance between me and this person shouting questions at me as possible. I used to yell back “yes”, and “everything” to the second question, but after a few times of that I realized that it’s really not about music at all – it’s about getting and trying to hold my attention by these guys.

This is evident by the follow up questions/comments: “Wanna play for me sometimes?”, “Hey honey, I got a gig for you” (said in the sleaziest way possible), “I wish I was your guitar, I’d let you play me all night”, “What, you too busy to stop and talk to me?”, “Oh, you think you’re a star, huh?” and the inevitable diss when I keep walking, “Ah, I bet you suck anyway!” and “I bet you can’t REALLY play!” and “Stuck up guitar bitch”.

One guy even said “I hope you break your fucking hand, bitch!” when I continued on past, ignoring the barrage of questions like I usually do when one of these guys starts up. It really is a f’d up thing that you find yourself having to go through on far too many occasions, and I can bet you that guys walking around the city with their guitars don’t go through ANY of this shit. It sucks and it’s not fair. Why?, I often ask myself. Why?

I have taken to wearing my headphones around my neck when I hit the streets with my axe in tow. And when I spot one of those guys, and you know what I mean, you can always spot them – the ones that get you on their radar and lock onto you immediately with that 100 yard stare – I quickly slip the headphones over my ears before I get within earshot of them. I make sure to keep something running on my Ipod so that I don’t have to hear one f*cking word or even begin to acknowledge their bullshit. Me walking around with my guitar does not make me an instantly accessible attraction or device. I truly and honestly wish that guys would grow the f*ck up. That is all.

- Kayla

Location: Manhattan/Queens

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“I did something about street harassment”

Stories, street harassment | on April, 23, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I wanna share something with Stop Street Harassment. I started following your page recently and in the past months I have also been an active feminist. There have been hundreds of times I have faced street harassment, I have been stared, touched, whistled and commented on badly and I never had the courage to do something about it. I live with a very conservative, misogynist family whom I broke ties with a few months back, the time I started doing my duties as a feminist.

After a very tough day on 15th April when I was climbing the stairs of the pedestrian’s bridge, this guy (he was young) touched my hip from behind and tried walking past me. Believe me, I have never had the courage before to do anything about it but to sit and be disgusted at myself. But that night I actually slapped the guy’s back really hard and screamed ‘Beghairat’ (it’s Urdu for ‘Shameless’ but is a negative word).

I was surprised at my courage and I have nothing but identifying myself as a feminist and your page to thank for. Maybe subconsciously but your message reached out to me. I did something about street harassment. After all these years, I finally did it tonight. I took a stand.

Thank you, so, so much! I don’t only feel more confident on the street now I also plan ahead if I see someone suspicious.

- A. Siddiqui

Location: Karachi, Pakistan

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“It seems like there was a constant barrage of solicitation and predation”

Stories, street harassment | on April, 23, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I live in Chicago and despite all of it’s flaws Chicago is my home and heart and soul. In my city you get people from all walks of life; you get the full spectrum of colors, creeds, and cultures. You get the men and women who help you selflessly and the men and women who will turn up their noses to the plight of others. Chicago is home to the best of us and the worst of us.

Last summer I spent a great deal on my feet and on public transit. Through Old Irving Park, Albany Park, Roscoe Village, and the Lake Shore I was always going somewhere by foot or via bus and train and for a while, and for the most part I had felt safe and secure. I enjoyed my Chicago summer except for one reoccurring event.

I would either be waiting at a bus stop or walking down the street and a car would pull up besides me and whatever man driving said car would roll down his window and try to convince to join him inside. On more than a few occasions I would be coaxed with handfuls of bills. But mostly it had just been men with the audacity to pull up besides me and try to sweet talk and seduce me into the passenger seats of their vehicles.

I found this terrifying but not in the way you might expect. I was insulted and rather ashamed because I had never been solicited for prostitution until last year. I would constantly ask people if I looked like, or walked like, acted like, or gave off a certain ‘air’ that would make men think that I would exchange my body for monetary gain. The answer was always no. But still the thought remained that I had an essence about me that screamed that I was dirty.

That happened countless times last summer. It seems like there was a constant barrage of solicitation and predation. It seemed almost inescapable. I can honesty say that I no longer feel as safe and secure in my home town as I used to.

- DK

Location: Chicago, IL

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“I don’t know why you play me like that”

Stories, street harassment | on April, 22, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

Last summer, I was enrolled at my community college for summer classes. I was happy that the school was less crowded with busy students, and I found a place to sit down and rest in between my classes. As I was reading, a boy about 17-18 approached me and asked if he could use a chair. Thinking he was going to grab it for another table he already had, I agreed. He proceeded to be somewhat annoying and asking me about what classes I was taking, which was a little annoying because I was reading, but I shook it off. He then asked me if I was single. I didn’t quite know how to respond so I hesitantly said yes.

He then stared at my chest and complimented my hair and said I was gorgeous. I was starting feeling very uncomfortable and could notice nearby students watching, snickering at my discomfort. He then asked me for my number which I finally said no to politely and said I was not interested. Something changed in this kid and he got very upset and demanded why I wasn’t giving him my number. I explained I wasn’t interested in dating, to which he said “Yeah, but you said you’re single so I don’t know why you play me like that.”

My heart was pounding and I started feeling very scared for my safety and told him I had to go meet a friend at the library, praying that he wouldn’t follow me. I bunched my keys up in my fist just in case. I never saw him again but I’m still fearful.

- Anonymous

Location: Community College

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“I feel safer sharing my experience here”

Stories, street harassment | on April, 21, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

My friend (also female) and I were standing on a crowded bus. At one stop, two men jumped on and the situation was such that they ended up standing extremely close behind us. As the bus lurched at a red light, inertia propelled me backwards. The bus stopping was very sudden and I felt myself knock into the man behind me. Just as I was about to turn my head to apologise, I felt him groping my inner thigh through the fabric of my pants. Then he slid his hand further up until he was most definitely intentionally and inappropriately touching me. If there was room on the bus for me to move and my hands were free, I would have slapped him and called him out. But my hands were trying to grip the overhead rail and I was too shocked to speak. I stood in stunned silence and glanced at my friend who also wore a pained expression.

Thankfully, the men left before we reached our stop. I told my friend what had happened and she said that the man be hind her pinched her bottom and groped her.

I felt compelled to share this story because raising awareness of street harassment is a vital step in preventing it. Victims of street harassment are often made to feel as if they somehow brought the unwanted attention upon themselves. I want subjects of street harassment to know that this is not the case – and there is never any excuse for physically or verbally harassing another person. In fact there are laws against this!

I wish my story involved me calling my harasser out. But I was too shocked and I was afraid of how the man may react if I said something to him/slapped him away. This is a typical reaction for many who have been harassed. I feel safer sharing my experience here, than I did when I was back on that bus full of people.

Remember to pick your battles. Street harassment should not be ignored but make sure there is someone to look out for you if you have tried to defend yourself. Know that you are not alone if all you did was remain silent about your experience(s) of street harassment. You can share your story here, there are many others who will be able to relate.

- Ella B

Location: On a bus

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Digest of Street Harassment News: April 21, 2014

street harassment | on April, 21, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

** Sign up to receive a monthly e-newsletter from Stop Street Harassment **

Street Harassment Stories:

Share your story! You can also read street harassment stories on the Web at:

Stop Street Harassment Blog

Bijoya in Bangladesh

Collective Action for Safe Spaces

Everyday Sexism

HarassMap in Egypt

The Hollaback Sites

Ramallah Street Watch in Palestine

Resist Harassment in Lebanon

Safe City India

Safe Streets in Yemen

Street Harassment in South Africa

Street Harassment in the News, on the Blogs:

* Najla Alshami Blog, “Street Harassment: An unpleasant obstacle in a Yemeni student’s life

* GlobalPost, “You see sexual harassment: Do you call the police, or tie up the perpetrator yourself?

* The Observers, “Egyptian schoolgirls say women encourage sexual harassment

* Huffington Post, “Fighting Harassment Against Women With Beautiful Street Art

* Co.Exist, “A Crowdsourcing Project Calls Out Sexual Harassment In India

* North Wind Online, “Blame society for street harassment

* New York Times Blog, “Turkish Women Use Twitter to Fight Sexual Harassment

* AlterNet, “Society Is Starting to Wake Up to Rampant Street Harassment of Women

* BG News, “Street harassment problem; efforts need to be made to stop catcalls from happening

* Amanda Jay, “Not Here for your Viewing Pleasure

* Bougie Black Girl, “My and probably your experience with street harassment

Announcements:

New:

* Stop Street Harassment is co-sponsoring the Rally Against Rape and Take Back the Night in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. and will have a table with materials and stickers!

Reminders:

* Did you participate in International Anti-Street Harassment Week? Please fill out this report form where you can say how your action went (no matter how big or small). This information will be used for the annual wrap-up report and potentially for articles about the week.

10 Tweets from the Week:

* @raquelitaroman: The irony of writing a paper on street harassment while a man in his fifties has been staring at me for 2hrs is just too real.

* @natmartinezzz: Ah, street harassment. Part of the reason I never go anywhere ever.

* @Tigershah26: Catcalling isn’t a compliment. Its abuse. Street harassment is abuse. Stop. It. #RapeCulture

* @ConsentHousecat: I am tired of these false equivalency derailment comments men make when I air grievances of street harassment.

* @pitytheviolins: Staying with my friend in Washington Heights. Dear lord the street harassment.

* @Jazmyn914: It’s really unbelievable to me that some people truly do not think that street harassment is a real thing

* @RSwirling: Cars slow down. Guys block my path. But having a car guy drive his car onto the sidewalk to block my path, that was new. #streetharassment

* @richhumofair: That type of street harassment where a guy sees you for a half a sec & that’s still enough time for him to honk, wave & smile as he drives by

* @mac_em: Well tonight was a particularly bad night for street harassment…. Thanks for making my walk home super uncomfortable

* @SagieLouWho: Guys who say street harassment isn’t a big deal have probably never had ‘SLUT’ yelled at them from a passing car.

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“Men. Tell other men this is unacceptable”

Stories, street harassment | on April, 20, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I am a woman. I’m on my way out for the night. I am tall, thin, white, and wearing a skirt with heels. These are all simple facts.

I am young. I live in New York City. I type this on my smart phone. My phone tried to auto-correct live to love. That is also true.

I get onto the train. Two men enter. I have on headphones because I saw this coming while I was getting ready an hour earlier. One sits – the other stops and leers. He sits – gets his friends attention and motions to me – obviously. They leer together. They talk while looking directly at me. If not for my noise canceling headphones – I could hear them. I am choosing not to – yet I am still becoming angry.

Eventually – I choose to walk to another section of the car to sit. The man across from me is looking at me every time I look up.

Let me stop you right there. This is not flattery or flattering. I am not conceited nor do I think they are looking at me because I am a wonderful, beautiful woman worthy of love and respect. I chose the word leer for a reason.

I am a woman. I love to dress up. I live in New York City. And sometimes I walk around un-chaperoned. This becomes a problem.

This becomes a constant of headphones in my ears. This becomes me clutching my keys in my pocket everywhere I go. This becomes I’m a bitch because I don’t say thank you to their catcalls. This becomes I was asking for it because I’m wearing a skirt and I am a woman alone.

This is a problem. A legitimate one. This is conditioning. This is my worry every time I leave the house. This is what Margaret Atwood meant when she said “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them; women are afraid that men will kill them.” This is reality. This runs through every woman’s head. This is not just a lack of being “raised right.” This is a lack of respect. This is harassment.

Men. Tell other men this is unacceptable. Women. Be yourself – dress however you please – stay safe – speak out. When someone harasses you – tell someone else.

Keep talking. Keep spreading awareness.

Stop street harassment.

- Mallorie Carrington

Location: New York City, R Train

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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.