I already posted this story on my own personal blog but I also wanted to share it here. Thank you for creating the anti-harassment cards, I will be using them here where I live.
I Am Not An Object
I am so sick of the unwanted attention I receive almost every time I leave my apartment. Scott and I run on different schedules so it’s impossible for him to be with me all the time. But he shouldn’t have to be and I shouldn’t feel the need to always have another person there to feel safe. It’s sad that every time I am going somewhere, even if it’s just the 2-3 blocks up to the grocery store, I have developed the habit of calling my mom or a friend or just anyone so I don’t feel so alone when I am walking by myself. Most days I even try to dress down because I am afraid if I look too nice it will make it worse.
When I am walking alone, men will pull up in cars and call out to me, try to call me over. They tell me they ‘like how I look’ or that ‘I have a nice shape.’ They look me up and down like I am a piece of meat and it turns my stomach. I mean, it’s one thing if a guy wants to ask me out and he does it by striking up a conversation then asks me out. I would obviously decline because I am already spoken for, but that’s the polite way to show a girl interest. Not rolling by and slowly following her in your (serial killer) van repeating over and over ‘I love that ass, I love that ass.” And that is actually what just happened to me as I was coming home from work today.
For some reason, the bus I was riding on my way home was going out of service the stop before mine so everyone had to get off. The weather isn’t too bad so I just decided to walk the one block to our apartment building. Like usual when I have to walk by myself, I was talking to my mom on the phone and I walk by this little strip mall and a white van is just leaving. I hear the guy driving saying something but I don’t really pay attention. Then he gets louder and I hear ʺOH WOW! I love that ass.ʺ And then he just keeps calling that out to me over and over. I tried to tell him to stop, but he didn’t listen and just kept following me in his van slowly, watching me walk and continuing to call out to me. Even though I was on the phone with my mom I felt so vulnerable because there was nothing I could do to make him stop. I felt so violated. I was just walking down the street, and it wasn’t even like he was interested in me, he just saw me as some live entertainment. A white girl with a “ghetto booty” – as people have referred to my backside curve before.
Normally I just try to ignore this kind of thing, but it happens so often I just got frustrated. Today was the last straw and when I got home, try as I might, I couldn’t hold back the tears and I bawled for a good long while. I hate feeling vulnerable and I resent being treated like less of a person because of women being over-sexualized in the media.
I think women should be free to be who they are, express themselves, dress how they want, and just be without the fear that somehow we are going to attract attention that we don’t want. What drives me crazy is that some people would blame me, as if I have any control over what other people think or how they act. Women are blamed a lot for these kinds of things and worse because people ask things like ‘what was she wearing?’ – In my case, long black pants a coat and scarf (racy, I know *sarcasm*). The bottom line, it isn’t the fault of the person being assaulted – ever. No one asks to be hurt or harassed like that, no one wants that kind of attention forced on them. I certainly didn’t feel like crying after work today – I just wanted some lunch. I don’t want to feel afraid to walk by myself every time I leave my apartment, but experience of living in this area has taught me to be.
One guy got mad at me because apparently he said hi to me a lot and I didn’t remember him and I was also trying to get away from him because I didn’t want to talk to him and he said I was being rude, like I am obligated to be nice and talk to a guy giving me really unwanted attention. Other than having the body type I was born with and you know, going out into society like a normal person, I don’t do anything to consciously attract this attention. Most of the time it feels like a surprise attack.
I don’t know what to do or how to deal with this when it happens because its like a hit-and-run kind of thing. Maybe ignoring it is my best bet until society matures a bit more and the general heterosexual male populous learns that treating women like objects is flat out not okay. That is the kind of mentality that leads to rape.
What makes me really sick is that the media influences people to do all kinds of things. They influence people to look, act, and dress a certain way. It feels like a vicious circle because girls are taught to be a certain way and guys are taught that girls who dress that way are ‘easy pickings’ but girls are just trying to be fashionable. Personally, I don’t follow trends and I dress for myself. Either way, I can’t win.
I just needed to vent and get this out there somehow because what else can I really do? Thanks for reading.
Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?
Education, Bianca Hall said something to the effect of: ‘we have taught girls to be afraid, stop telling girls to be afraid and start telling boys not to harass girls.’ which I think should translate to ‘teach people to respect one another.’
Location: Toronto, Canada
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