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Street harassment is alive and well in Fort Greene. I have been catcalled, propositioned, and verbally harassed too many times to count. I avoid certain blocks or sides of the street where men congregate in a vain attempt to escape the onslaught of derogatory comments about my “sexy legs” or whatever other feature du jour is arbitrarily chosen for “praise.” One man said “that’s my bitch” as I walked on Myrtle to the subway in business clothes on my way to work. Another whom I had just passed while walking during my morning commute called out after me how much he would pay me for sexual acts. One young man would yell comments every time he would see me coming from or going to work: “I love your sexy legs” or “I love those stockings.” One evening after making comments that I repeatedly ignored, walking resolutely ahead as he and his friends walked behind me, he said “she probably thinks I’m harassing her, but she’s just so beautiful I have to tell her” as though his ersatz rationale and acknowledgment somehow made up for his demeaning behavior and words. After repeated interactions like these he started preceding his barrage of “compliments” with an insidious nod to our repeated proximity, adding the salutation of “neighbor”: “oh that’s my neighbor, she’s so beautiful.” After months of showing no signs of acknowledgment to his comments, our paths crossed one night in front of my apartment building, where he again greeted me as his neighbor and proceeded to make unwanted comments about my body. I was so tired and frustrated I said “can you please stop??!!” He responded by saying “I’m only saying nice things! We’re neighbors, I’m trying to be friendly!” I said, “Well it’s been going on for months and no one asked you to say those things, so, stop!” He yelled back at me as he walked away, “You live in Brooklyn, you can’t be racist!” I responded, “I’m not racist, I just want to be left alone!” The adolescent son of the superintendent for my building was standing just inside the door of the building, and, apparently having witnessed the interaction, asked me, with wide eyes, if that happened to me a lot, to which I unhappily replied, while shaking from the stress of the encounter, “yes.” I have seen that particular harasser several times since this incident and he has never spoken to me again. I was despondent that somehow my decision to finally stand up for my right to walk down the street as a woman without being harassed, to oppose the oppression of sexism, was used as the rationale to label my actions as another form of oppression, racism, against my harasser. Through my work and academic pursuits I strive to oppose social injustice in all its forms every day (including recognizing my own privilege), and believe every human being deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. If this young man genuinely wanted to be friendly or neighborly, how hard would it have been to say “good morning, neighbor” or just a simple “hello” without all of the demeaning comments (his supposed “compliments”) about my body? This experience and other instances of being street harassed, which occurs on an almost daily basis in the city, reminds me of how much work there is to do to stop street harassment and oppression in all its forms, and has spurred me to devote more of my time to community organizing endeavors to aid in this effort.
I just went for a run after work and pushed myself a little harder than usual. I have been feeling really crummy about my body lately, so runs like this make me feel powerful — like I’ve got it under control! But after a man leaned out of his car in rush hour traffic to yell, “you go girl, get that body back,” I feel like a popped balloon.
I went out with my friends to a bar and after drinking a little bit we left to go eat. My friends and I were waiting in line to get our food when a man came up behind me. He smirked and got closer to me but I looked away because I felt uncomfortable. Once I was looking away he got closer and put his hands around my waist and put his hands on my butt. I was tipsy and too scared to do or say anything so I moved away quickly so that I was standing in front of my friends. As I was telling my friends what happened, he ran out and they chased after him. When they approached him he lied and said he had never even been inside. My friends approached the security guard, who saw the guy, but it was too late because he was gone and there was nothing they could do.
My husband and I were enjoying a performance at Radio City Music Hall. I had my husband to my left and a young fellow maybe 17 or 18 sit to my right and on his right was his father. This kid starts creeping right on to me. I move as far over in my seat as I can, closer to my husband and give the boy “the look” . He starts touching my leg closest to him and leering at me all the while his dad has his eyes forward on the musical. I moved closer to my husbands seat… the kid keeps touching me. All of a sudden the audience stands up to applaud. I stand up all 6′ 3 of me in my 4 inch heels..facing forward and take my right foot and drill my high heel spike right into the top of his left foot. How does he think its okay to do this to women? The young fellow all of a sudden tells his dad he has to leave. My husband asks is everything okay.. yes dear everything is fine. I hope that is the last time he touches any woman like that again.
I was running down the street and two men cornered me on the street and said “I love you, come back” – I had to dodge them on the street and sprinted off. They were laughing. The sidewalk was fairly full of people.
A man with his hood up said “do you want to suck my dick” while I was walking to the subway from my boyfriend’s apartment in Harlem to go home to Brooklyn. It was disgusting. I just kept walking, quickly and crossed the street even though I didn’t have the walk light. Now my boyfriend said he’ll walk me to the subway from now on.
Man standing under an awning on the North side of 42nd Street right next to BBQ place decided to invite me to suck his balls and called various people walking by all sorts of nasty things.
I was with my mother and aunt shopping on the boulevard. We were in modells on the check out line when I saw a man continuously looking at me inappropriately. He let a lady skip him just to get closer, after he paid I figured he would be gone. I was wrong, we went into another store and he followed us again he was looking at me inappropriately and this time trying to get closer. My mother and aunt began to feel uncomfortable and so did I. We left the store after walking around and trying to shake him off. We didn’t see him so we went about our shopping. 45 minutes later we were in taco bell and I was on the line to order when he walks in and gets really close behind me. At this point I feel like it can’t be a coincidence especially with the way his presence is making me feel. My mother and aunt begin to signal me to be careful but I have already noticed him. I try to act normal because I don’t want to make a scene or maybe be over thinking the mans presence. As I order and pay he huffs and leaves the Taco Bell. I sit facing the windows and entrance door and see him pass by twice. It’s dark out even though it’s 7pm. I no longer feel safe taking the bus with my mother and aunt home, because what if he follows us on the bus and then home. We begin to call cab companies so we can get picked up outside the Taco Bell but there is no cabs available. We’re forced to walk out to grab a cab and I spot him across the street waiting around. We speed walked and were able to catch a cab safely home. But the incident was still scary!
Not 20 steps away from my stoop and this guy walking past asks me “who are you voting for?” I don’t say anything and keep walking and he says “you look so sexy. I want to rape you.”
From inside the cafe, I could see a man across the street under the Strand awning. He masturbated until completion and then used that hand to wave to me.