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My friend was walking to school and an elderly man whispered to her “delicious.”
I walk my dog along the same 2-mile route everyday at about the same time of day. I walk with my head down, not looking at any passing cars, and avoiding any human interaction whatsoever. For the entire walk I am nervous and tense just waiting for the inevitable street harassment that occurs at least once every time. Guys drive by and yell out “Hey fat ass!” or “Your ass is huge!” or “I’d like to tap that big ass!” Or, they will drive up behind me as I am walking and just yell “Boo Bitch!” to see me jump and then drive off laughing. I have multiple sclerosis and, in the beginning, the walking was very peaceful and relaxing but now the street harassment creates the kind of stress that causes MS flare-ups – dizziness, numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, or my legs get rubbery feeling.
I wish that I could take down the license plate numbers and file lawsuits against all of these degenerates but the current laws do not support such actions. Complaints such as this are dismissed routinely and it’s a shame because maybe if the law was behind us we could put a stop to street harassment forever, or at least reduce the frequency. Instead I have to reduce the frequency of my walks and sacrifice my own emotional and physical health.
So I was getting off of the six train 103rd street station stop. I was on the platform heading to the stairs, when this tall male came up to me. He told me how beautiful I was, and how I’m the prettiest girl he’d ever seen, etc. He offered me his card, and I said no thanks. He said ok, then to my shock, he kissed me on the cheek and ran away! I was LIVID! I went to the cops about it.
The male cop at the desk didn’t seem interested in helping me at all!!
Saw a man publicly urinating on the door of Equinox. Then he turned around while doing so and said, “Hey sweetie how are you doing?” I didn’t respond and he and his friend continued to harass me verbally. I gave them the finger as I crossed the street, and their comments turned violent and aggressive, saying “fuck you” and “pussy” among a slur of insults and verbal assaults. I feared for my safety and ran home
He yelled, “Nice crotch.”
I was walking past a construction site when a few of the workers stopped to stare at me as I walked by. I stopped walking and told them to stop staring at me, and one worker repeatedly yelled “Maybe it’s because of that big fat ass and hips that we’re staring!” I took out my phone to take a photo of him and he came towards me with his hand up, but didn’t touch me. I called the local precinct to report the verbal harassment and they said “it was disrespectful but does not qualify as harassment.”
Was on my way to Port Authority from the 3 train at the 42nd street subway station…felt like getting myself something to drink at one of the magazine stands in the station. There was one near the exit and ticket booth, right before you enter the stairs to PA (right side). I have no idea why anyone would treat a potential customer this way, but this guy started saying “Hey cutie.” “You’re really cute.” “So, so cute.” Ugh. I gave a disgusted look, turned around and walked out without buying anything…and I certainly won’t be going back!
Was walking. Was walking to the subway fully modestly dressed and the man said, “Hello, look at you so beautiful have a great day.”
Creepy man in thirties following me around a Sears in the Newport mall, watching me from a distance then walked in to ask me what color my hair is ( it’s green). I brushed him off he walked away, noticed him staring at me as I left the store about 30 feet awa., I hauled ass to the lightrail, if I didn’t pretty sure he would have followed me.
Open letter to the jogger who approached me in Washington Square Park and the two women who stood up for me:
I was having a really good day. I woke up. I had breakfast with my parents and one of my friends. I went to class and had a really great and empowering discussion with my peers. I was wearing an outfit that I felt good in, my favorite sweater, a comfy pair of jeans, my black boots and a pair of hooped earrings. I felt confident and I was in a good mood.
Then you jogged up to me. You said hello. You asked me if I spoke or understood English. You said hello again. You told me I was pretty. You kept walking besides me. I looked straight forward and I ignored you. You followed me down the street. You kept talking to me. I began to feel unsafe, less confident and disgusted. I made it clear that I did not want to talk to you. You got fed up with me. You muttered under your breath that I was a bitch and you left.
I began to ask myself. What about me made you think that I wanted to interact with you? Maybe it was the hoop earrings? Maybe it was the confidence I felt while walking in my boots?
What made you think that you were entitled to talk to me? What made you frustrated when I didn’t respond to you? I’m genuinely sorry that we’ve both fallen victim to the stereotype of masculinity that makes society believe that it’s ok for events like this to happen.
You thought that what you said to me should make me feel flattered, that I should feel special that out of all of the women in the park, you chose me.
But jogger: I’m not flattered. I speak english, but I don’t want to speak to you. I understand that you’re saying hello to me, but I don’t want to say hello to you. I don’t know you. I owe you NOTHING. The way that you looked at me. The way that you talked to me. The way that you followed me- did not make me feel pretty. In fact you made my confidence go from 100 to 0. I’m mad at you for the way you approached me, but I’m also mad at the way you made me feel. I’m mad that our interaction caused me to feel like I was out of control, and that I had lost the power to feel confident. Like our interaction was my fault. Like the way I presented myself made this event inevitable.
To the two women who stood up for me:
Thank you for being there. Thank you for seeing what was happening, and realizing that it was not ok. Thank you for seeing that I was uncomfortable and for telling him that I didn’t want to talk to him. Thank you for stopping on the street and waiting for him to leave me and making sure I was safe before continuing with your day. I’m inspired by your act of kindness and I encourage my fellow women and men to STAND UP AND SAY SOMETHING.
Please understand that Catcalling and harassment is NOT flattering. We do NOT want strangers coming up to us on the street. Catcalling is not a compliment. It’s an aggressive assertion of male dominance by dehumanizing and hypersexualizing someone.
I do not want it. I do not like it. We need to stand up against it.
(This was posted on my facebook page originally)