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I am a woman. I’m on my way out for the night. I am tall, thin, 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 autocorrect 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 friend’s 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 spreading awareness.
Stop street harassment.
I was walking into the Time Warner Center. A group of men started catcalling me, and following me. Business as usual. Then one actually said (verbatim), “Damn girl! You better get yourself inside! I mean it, like, I’m not even bein’ nice. I mean something’s gonna happen to you if you stay out here! I mean, damn, you’re gonna get raped, like seriously!”
I thought I was a veteran of receiving gross comments and threats. The worst part is that I feel like my face and body betrayed me — that I was noticeably jarred by their comments — I hate knowing they may have derived satisfaction from my reaction.
Note: I was wearing a long winter coat that covered up most of my body. How many slankets does a girl have to pile on to make this BS stop?
Someone grabbed my butt while I was walking down the street and then ran off.
I felt totally violated.
I had literally just walked out of my apartment to head to the park, when I walked past a group of maybe 10 guys headed in the other direction. They were quiet, which was a little weird because there were 10 of them. I passed the last one, and all of a sudden one of them grabs my hair and yanks down, yelling something. I could hear my neck crack in my ears as he grabbed my head. The hair tie in my hair was ripped out! I was so stunned. They just walked away laughing. And I didn’t do anything, I was just too shocked. All of those come-backs and planned escape plans, nothing would have worked being attacked from behind. I didn’t even chase after them. I went straight back up into my apartment to grab another hair tie, and then headed out again like nothing happened. But a day later, I’m still angry. Definitely at those kids, and almost kind of at myself for not knowing what to do.
Yes there are the usual cat calls we get in NYC which I can’t stand. Which is why headphones have become my best friend (during the day). This morning waiting for the bus on Church Ave I see this man from about a block away staring at me, and you know how you could just tell and just eyeing me up and down like I was a piece of meat.
I was so angry inside that I asked him “What are you looking at? Why are you looking at me nasty ass man?” He continued to deny it and you know how it goes – they start insulting you & the way you look. I did not care, I kept going. Older women were around me and did not say a word, they kept on looking at me as if I was wrong.
Maybe it is a cultural thing, but as a Colombian American I will not stand for it. I just couldn’t keep quiet this morning. I kept telling him that he is mad that hes nasty and then he said that I shouldnt be wearing those “TIGHT PANTS” OH? MY RUNNING PANTS? I SCREAMED. Now that PISSED me off the most. How dare he.
That is why men feel the right to say shit to us and look at us. I feel as though this East Flatbush area is the worst for these cat calls and nasty men who are disrespectful. I am so annoyed by feeling scared to come out. It is ridiculous and this needs to be stopped. I want more men in these areas and for women to understand that they need to have a voice and people like me that I don’t want to be scared anymore.
This man was reading from scripture & I thought that would be it- then he was telling a woman across from him about how to live and how she should try and find love. After she left, he asked who would be his “next case- I don’t do men. Only women.” He started raving about how the mayor made this a “gay city” & how it was wrong that this president “a master politician” put his arm around gays&lesbians and called them his brothers and sisters. Commented on Michelle Obama as being a cold woman.
Hello Princess. I like your skirt. Hello gorgeous. Damn, you fine ass mothafucka! Hello Beautiful. Damn girl. Sorry, I just got distracted by how beautiful you were so I got in your way. Sexy. I like that hair of yours. My apartments just up this street. Have a beautiful day. You got a body made for a black man…Soft scoops of vanilla…You should let me put some sprinkles on that.
He came across the street. He walked behind me. He watched my every move. They all got quiet and stared. He nodded towards me and they all turned. He watched me go up the stairs. He stared at me as he walked by and made a smooch face and noise. He was on the other side of the sidewalk a second ago, now he’s nearly touching. They all laughed and murmured and stared. I can feel his eyes on me. He ran after me, forced a conversation, told me I was beautiful, he had seen me from inside the store, aggressively insisted on my phone number and details about me, asked where I was going.
This is everyday. Every single day. What I have written here is not every encounter I have had. This is a tiny, tiny portion. I have lost count of the number of times I have received street harassment while walking on the streets of NYC. I have lost count of the number of times I have cringed, bit my lip, wanted to cry, screamed inwardly, called them every name possible in my head, fought the urge to retort or lift up my middle finger, report them. Anything to feel justice. But I always ignore them, not giving them a moment of my time. Every time I walk down a street I survey the number of men and brace myself whenever I pass any. I keep my eyes down, haven’t seen the sky in awhile. I have started developing severe anxiety of what I wear and what my body looks like even though I know no matter what they won’t stop. I put myself on diets to lose weight off my lower body to lessen the harassment. I am apprehensive of leaving my apartment. But I shouldn’t have to be. No woman should. I will not accept the fact this is just a thing that happens. That we should Expect it, Accept it, Move on. NO. Never. These words are scars. I remember them. I carry them with me forever. The feelings and your voice never fade. I am someone who was sexually molested for 2-3 years of her life as a young girl and you have no idea or don’t care what affect your actions have on someone like me with such a background. I am just passing entertainment to you. You forget I am a human being. A daughter, sister, best friend, cousin. You have no right to speak to me, look at me or come near me. No right. If men can walk down the streets and not have to worry about whether or not someone is going to say something to them, touch them, stare or follow them neither should women. Little boys need to be taught how to respect women from a young age so they do not repeat this process. Men need to be educated. Street harassers need to be confronted. I want to feel safe. I want to feel respected. I want to feel peace. I don’t want to leave scared and come home angry anymore.
I haven’t been outside for the last three days.
I didn’t experience a lot of harassment through the winter, but now that the temperature has started to warm up I’ve been getting a lot more catcalls, people grunting in my ears as I go by, etc. Experiencing all of that again after not dealing with it that much over the winter… I don’t know why, but it’s really gotten to me. A few weeks ago I was really excited to get to wear my beautiful summer dresses, skirts, and heels again but now the thought of going outside without a thick black coat to protect me…
I had someplace I needed to be today but I procrastinated getting dressed. By the time I was ready to go, I was already late so I just decided I would stay home. It looks beautiful out there, but I just can’t.
The worst part is, when my husband comes home from being out of town for the weekend he’ll ask why I’ve stayed inside for the last few days. Why didn’t I deposit my paycheck? Why didn’t I go grocery shopping? Why didn’t I go visit my friends, or go to that art exhibit like I had planned on doing? But he won’t get it. He doesn’t understand what it’s like. After I was harassed a few weeks ago, he thought it was because I had been wearing a jacket instead of a peacoat. When I tried to explain why saying that was hurtful he told me I should just talk about it with some of my girlfriends, because he didn’t understand how I could be so upset.
I’m scared to go outside. And I hate that.
While walking back to my apartment with my aunt after buying some delicious pastries from a nearby bakery, an older man, visibly drunk, approached us. “You are SO beautiful,” he said, to which I gave a tense “Thank you” in response. He followed me and reached out, his hand on my arm. “Please do NOT touch me,” I said, starting to feel fury bubble up inside of me. At which point he said, “Hey, you shut up. Shut up.” My aunt started quickly walking me away, telling me “Don’t look back, just move.” I was flushed, shaking and so angry that he would tell me to “shut up” as if I should just let him touch my arm and be grateful for his so-called compliment. And then, to feel like he was following me towards Flatbush was completely terrifying as well. We ducked into a Dunkin’ Donuts to be safe.
A man approached me as I walked past him and a group of men and said “aye mamacita how you doing.”