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“Made a comment about my ‘booty'”

Stories, street harassment | on July, 27, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

I was taking a walk and a group of teenage guys rolled down their window and made a comment about my ʺbooty.ʺ

I flipped them off as they drove away.

– Anonymous

Location: O’Fallon, MO, USA. In my neighborhood

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“I did not want to put myself in danger”

Stories, street harassment | on July, 27, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

I was walking to a club in Amsterdam with a group of six girls and a guy. It was approximately 2 a.m. I am 18 years old but I look younger, and I was wearing no make-up, a knee-length skirt and sneakers. My friend stopped in a shop to get a sandwich and I walked a few meters away from the group. A man passed by me, (he looked twenty-something) and told me something like ʺBaby babyʺ. I was pretty nervous and I answered insulting him, I basically told him ʺfuck youʺ loudly while walking back to my group of girlfriends.

I thought that was the end of it but the man followed me, looking angry, and started shouting at me. He said I was rude, that he only said ʺhelloʺ so I had no right to insult him, that it is normal and so on. I tried to explain that I was scared of him and he looked even more insulted and angry. All my friends told me to shut up, that answering was stupid.

One of my friends called the guy who was in the shop and only when the man saw there was a boy in our group he lowered his voice. My friends tried to bring up excuses like the fact that I was nervous and I ended up saying, ʺI’m sorry I didn’t mean itʺ to the gross man. He then told me I was lucky I was a girl because he doesn’t hit girls (how chivalrous!!!) and that if I were a boy he would have punched me. Then he told me ʺbitchʺ and walked away.

I feel so powerless because there is nothing I could have done against him, I did not want to put myself in danger. It is so unfair that men can say whatever they want to me and I have to keep quiet and ignore them. I also feel stupid for having insulted him, which was not a proper reaction.

– ZS

Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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“I am lucky that the situation did not escalate”

Stories, street harassment | on July, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

I am 17 years old, and while I do not believe that what the victim was wearing matters, for the sake of information, I was wearing a black sundress with a white sweater. This morning, while walking to my law internship at my local courthouse, a man in a vehicle stopped at a red light on the street. He whistled sharply at me and waved his hand. This type of thing has happened more than once, and as a victim of physical sexual harassment in the past, things like this scare me beyond belief.

Out of shock that this type of thing would happen at 8 in the morning, I turned around (much to my mistake) to get a better look at the culprit. I couldn’t make him out, but I saw his waving hand gesture, and that was enough. I yelled obscenities, out of fear, and realized a pedestrian/man who was walking the OTHER way behind me began to turn around and walk towards me. I did not realize this as a threat initially, and since I was in public I just kept on walking towards work vigorously. The man behind me smiled at me creepily and entered work with me. I do not know what his intention was, but it creeps me out and scares me that catcalling enables other men to look at me as a sexual object.

Catcalling/ street harassment triggers other abusers to do the same. It’s repulsive and vile, and I am lucky that the situation did not escalate.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

Making the public aware about the dangers of street harassment, so that it is treated as a serious form of harassment. In many cases, street harassment is the first step in many serious issues, such as kidnapping and rape.

– MM

Location: Salem, OR

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“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it”

Stories, street harassment | on July, 25, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

On my way from my job at a grocery store to my car, someone in a car slowed down and yelled, “Looking good today momma!ʺ

I ignored them and continued walking as if I didn’t hear them, but believe me, I was so shocked and frightened that I hurried to my car ASAP. I was wearing my work tshirt and baggy jeans, and it was still light out for Christs sake…it made me feel like I needed to look even uglier for work, and that I somehow triggered it. I was really upset by this and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

Walking with a buddy to the car, making catcalling illegal!!

– Anonymous

Location: Houston, TX

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“He told me he was a ’10′”

Stories, street harassment | on July, 25, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

I got sexually harassed on my walk this morning. This older man was sitting out in front of some apartment buildings where people often sit. He saw me, stood up, and the saluted me. At which point he told me I was a ʺ10ʺ and how in his 66 years he’s made millions of $ (which presumably would make me more receptive to his attentions). I told him ʺgood morningʺ and walked off while he continued to talk at me.

Then on my walk back I saw the same dude at the park where he proceeded to street harass a mother and her little two kids because they weren’t smiling. He called them ʺgrumpy and grumpyʺ or lumpy, I’m not sure anymore, and how ʺeveryone loves themʺ and they should be happy or something… I wanted to say something about he should be careful otherwise people will think he’s a pedophile, but I didn’t because that doesn’t actually help these kinds of situations.

He didn’t really even seem like a creeper either, he was like a jolly old man who likes to harass people. He probably thinks he’s hilarious at parties. Like that annoying relative at the potluck that likes to get up in everyone’s business in inappropriate ways.

– Anonymous

Location: Seattle, WA

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“I’m in 8th grade! It really shook me up.”

Stories, street harassment | on July, 24, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

I’m only 14 years old. I was walking from my dance studio to a water ice booth a few doors down in the shopping center while I was on break from dancing. There were a group of boys loitering next to the water ice booth. They looked about 18-20. One went up to me as I was waiting for my milkshake and was like ʺnice assʺ an pointed at my sweatpants. I told him firmly, ʺPlease leave me alone and mind your business.”

They all starting laughing and one went up to me, touched my shoulder, tried to pull me close, and said, ʺHey baby, will you buy me some water ice?ʺ I thought he escalated it by touching me being close to me, so I slapped him hard grabbed my milkshake and ran all the way across the shopping center and into my dance studio again. I never thought I was considered ʺsexyʺ or ʺhotʺ. I’m in 8th grade! It really shook me up.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

If there are any outdoor stands or booths where you have to wait for the employee to come take your order, to always have a bell at the counter, so you aren’t stuck waiting and looking vulnerable. You can get what you need and get out because most people loiter near these places.

G.S.

Location: Rita’s Water Ice, New Castle, DE

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“I feel so defeated that I had to experience this awful incident”

Stories, street harassment | on July, 24, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Around two weeks ago, a few minutes past 12 noon, I drove myself to a venue down a well-known lane on Bagatale Rd, Colombo 3, as I had to attend a work meeting. Once I parked and started adjusting my hair, out of the corner of my eye I saw a man standing a few yards away from me with his back towards me. He was wearing a helmet. At this point I did recognise the motor cyclist. I am unsure whether he was following me, but I definitely remember seeing him turn towards the same lane.

When he realised that I saw him, he turned towards me and started masturbating. I froze for what seemed like a long time but in reality it was probably a few seconds. Although I was a fully grown career-focused  and married woman who’s generally in control of things, for a fleeting moment I felt like a helpless school girl!

I somehow managed to summon up my courage and acted fast. I took my mobile phone and started photographing him. My fingers didn’t move as fast but I managed to take two pictures. One of him proudly exhibiting his disgusting self and the other showing his motorcycle number plate very clearly.

He saw me taking the photographs but didn’t for a moment stop what he was doing or avert his eyes. I shouted at him saying he can see himself in the newspaper and in the police.

Then he stopped, got back onto the motorcycle and came right up close to me. I had rolled up my window and locked all my doors but honestly I was really worried. I saw him leave but I wasn’t sure.

I had to get out and go to my meeting, but I was worried he’d be hiding somewhere and try to harm me. I was worried to leave my car thinking he’d do something to my car. My meeting was with 5 other men, so I couldn’t really call them and tell them what happened! I felt so helpless.

I whatsapped the pictures to my closest female friends and my husband with a brief msg of what happened, so that in case something happened to me or my car there was evidence of me taking steps regarding the incident.

I somehow attended the meeting but I was in another world due to what I witnessed.

I was quite proud of myself that I managed to take the photos and I wanted to take action but everyone I knew advised me not to pursue it further saying its for my own safety as the motorcyclist would’ve noted my car number.

I feel so defeated that I had to experience this awful incident and I couldn’t even take action after.

Wish there was some way I could take action!

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

By society being more supportive and if there were more support networks to help victims!

– OMS

Location: Sri Lanka

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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.