Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
This happened on my college campus (outside Davis Hall @ Carleton) last fall. As I was walking back to my dorm, I heard a group of (probably drunk) guys yelling out the window asking me for my number, giving theirs, and telling me I was “really pretty.” As I entered the building, I heard them doing the same to others walking by. The “compliment” wasn’t appreciated. Carleton kids, I expected better from you. Your Saturday nights should not involve verbally accosting others in the name of fun.
I was on my way home when three men were coming from the opposite direction. I tried to step aside but one of them blocked me and started looking me up and down. I lost it, saying I was twice their age and they just laughed. I have never been physically intimidated like that.
As I was walking on the east side of Union Square, this man approached from my left. Without hesitation, he placed his hand on the back of my neck and said something like, “Your choice or your destiny.” I immediately stepped back and said loudly, “Do not touch me.”
I started to walk away, but felt compelled to return and say, “What right do you think you have to touch a total stranger?” He said, “It is just because you are so beautiful.” We continued back and forth like this for about 90 seconds. What made it so eerie is that he continued to step forward and try to put his arm around me. And I continually stepped backward, raised a hand, and said loudly, “Do not touch me.”
This is my definition of deadening: Standing before a man in anguish, clearly verbalizing the anguish—and watching his lips continue to smile, and tongue form the words of how my body makes him feel. In his eyes my limbs floated clearly but so far away, having existence only as an object of his fantasy.
I said bitterly, “I am going to take your picture.” And he repeated like a mantra: “You want me; you know you want me,” arching his camera above his head and attempting to capture us both in its frame.
At this point I was trembling, but determined to have one moment of accountability. I approached the group of three men he had emerged from and said loudly, “Do you know this man? What he is doing is illegal. You cannot accost a person like this on a city street.” They stared at me dumbly, and the harasser approached and stood just inches from my throbbing chest. I walked quickly away then, shaking and choking on the taste of salt in my throat.
It is a strange day when a dimly lit Vitamin Shoppe becomes a sanctuary for a woman, as she stands sweating and shaking. All the mountains of fear within me suddenly stood in stark relief. If this can happen in public—with no one intervening—what would happen if I were secluded with this man? Surely I would fight him to the death, but he had such an uncanny capacity to seem before me, beside me, behind me, all at once—ever growing arms and voice, enveloping me like a deadening fog.
When I felt a gram of composure, I continued my trajectory around Union Square. Soon a man approached, shouting, “You have beautiful hair! I own an Aveda salon …” I was aware of how large his arms were, and his fast steps toward me. I cried then, in the thick of the organic shoppers, saying, “I was just harassed. Please … do … not … talk … to … me.” I was outraged by my own tears, and equally outraged this was considered a form of advertisement. He had the decency to look truly frightened.
Then it rained sheets. I stood with water drenching my feet, imagining Kali washing the violent men off the face of the earth. It would certainly clear up a lot of space.
When a vendor offered me a large bag for my greens, I made it into a poncho. The rain was a convenient excuse, but I just wanted to make it home without any men staring at my chest. I was afraid I would vomit.
Around the corner from my office, walking back from visiting a job site, lunch. Approaching a man I thought would bug me, I didn’t make eye contact—just walked by with my headphones on—and he yells at me, “You walking around like you think someone’s going to touch you, you bitch!” He probably said much more, but I wasn’t trying to hear anymore. Ugggggggg. Kind of scary, too. Wish I had a photo of him to post. What is a female to do?
I was walking to the laundromat when I was catcalled in front of my neighborhood bar. I gave him the finger and he continued making lewd remarks, so I shouted “fuck you!” He kept making remarks, so I started marching back toward him so I could take his picture and submit it here. He dodged away. I could not find him for the life of me, so I started going back to the laundromat. Then he reappeared and started catcalling me again. He threw change at me from a window above me. I called 911.
Someone passing by in a car just screams very loudly out the open window at me at least once a week. Sometimes they scream “bitch.” Once there was a car with two boys, hardly even teenagers, in the back, and the boy yelled “bitch” at me…in the presence of an approving adult driving the car.
Apparently this is the only way the little men in those cars are convinced they can be noticed by a woman, this is the only way they deep down think they can make their presence known to her, get her attention, become part of her life for a few moments. Of course, this behaviour is also a manifestation of a huge amount of aggression at an object so desired and so feared that it is hated. This is desperate, pitiful, and totally lacking in self-respect.
I understand this and I despise the subhumans who resort to this. But today as they sped away I cried from helplessness and from knowing that again they got away with it. I am 5 feet tall, 100 lbs. How on earth abusing me makes anyone feel big, powerful, in control, a big and important male who can do things without accountability?
Of course this type of harassment is only one of many that I endure DAILY.
Midday, man stops to say “beautiful body”
“Hey mami” said one man
“Hey beautiful” said another 2 doors down, same block
I was just verbally harassed yet again in my neighborhood.
Man starts talking to me on my way to work today. Beautiful this, beautiful that. I told him to stop talking to me and leave me alone. Wow, without missing a beat, he just starts yelling, “you’re a bitch, a straight up bitch!” I said, “oh good, now you’re *straight up* abusing me. That’s verbal assault right there.” Then he goes on about having an 11-year old daughter or relationship or something, which is just bad news for all involved. Happy mornings!