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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)
This man was standing across from my friend and me. He started touching himself so we moved away from him and he followed us literally halfway down the train. He would stand across from us and masturbate. When I took this video, he finally stopped and looked away. But after I left the train and my friend was still on it, he continued masturbating again.
I’m a college student who dorms and decides to stay on campus a lot of the time even though home is literally 35 minutes away. I go home one weekend for the first time since the semester started to visit my family and pick up a few things. On my way to the apartment from shopping, I hear “sweetie” being called from behind me. I turned around to see if I had dropped something and someone was trying to get my attention to get me to go pick it up. It was a guy and when he had my attention his next words were “can I talk to you for a sec?” I immediately became upset that this was happening on my first day back home. I ignored him and continue to walk regularly until I reached the next block and I can still see him from my peripheral vision. I walked another block. Then I checked to see if I can see his reflection in a store window as I walked passed it. I tried not to show that I was a little worried, thinking that he might take advantage of my fear. He was still behind me. My next reaction was to reach inside my purse and detach my dorm room keys from my school ID. I took the keys and placed them between my fingers with the sharp side facing outward. As I was doing this I picked up my pace. I took long strides the rest of the way home with the keys still in hand. When I finally reached my block, I looked all around; behind me, across the street. I even paid attention to a car that was driving by real slowly. I was very alert at this point and did not stop until I felt I was safe inside my building and in the apartment.
I have been a victim of several forms of harassment. I don’t live in a big city, but that doesn’t seem to matter. I get stared at and talked to constantly in regular places (grocery store, gas stations, restaurants, trains, online, and just about any where else you can think of.)
I was coming back from NYC on the train. I had picked a spot on the train that was partially away from the others to sleep and listen to music. It was about a 2 hour train ride. A man plopped himself next to me and continued to try to talk to me the entire time. I text my friend to call me, hoping that he would leave. He didn’t. He constantly interrupted, asked if he could give me a massage, wanted my number, and harassed me the whole time. I wouldn’t get off of the phone with my friend until I was safe and sound. I had to endure an hour and 45 minutes with this guy until he got off at the stop right before mine. I would have moved to a different spot, but the train was packed.
I have been practically date raped, hit on several times WHILE ON A DATE. Have had my dates given crude compliments about me. (“Dude bro, hope you score later, she’s HOT!”, etc.). Needless to say, I am not the only one getting harassed, but so are the people I am dating that I care about.
I don’t dress sleazy, I don’t act sexy, and I don’t bring things on to myself. I don’t hit on men and I don’t lead them on.
The most horrific experience I have had while on a date, was being drugged. (I was dating someone I was very close to and knew me well, thank heavens.)
An adult softball team came into the bar/restaurant and a married man who also had his wife with him at the time came up to our table and “chatted” with us. My date excused himself to go to the bathroom. This man continued to talk to me while his wife was sitting across at another table. He got my attention on the world cup playing on the TV. Later, when he left, he knocked on the glass window from outside by where we were sitting and waved eerily goodbye to me. My date and I thought he was creepy, but thought nothing of it because things like this happen so frequently.
On the way home, this is when I began to black out. I told my date I was feeling really sick. By the time I got home and to my room, I sat on my bed and violently threw up. I finally made it to the bathroom and kept getting sicker and sicker. My head was spinning, I was crying constantly and extremely incoherent. I only had one drink and my date had been out with me enough times to know that I wasn’t drunk and that it wasn’t in my nature to get sick. We didn’t have anything to eat, so it couldn’t have been food poisoning.
While my date cleaned up after me, put me in the bathtub and washed my hair, changed my sheets, got me dressed, he was constantly begging me to go to the ER. I told him no over and over again, not understanding what was happening.
I was sick for the next 3 days. Later, I found out that all it takes is 2 drops of the common eye drop, Visine in your drink to get you so ill you could die.
Harassment comes in so many forms, and these are just some examples of many I’ve experienced. I hope to learn more about how to handle situations because I truly have had my life in danger. I am grateful for websites like this one that promote awareness!
I caught the C train yesterday on 168th street. There were several people in the car with me at 3 pm, then I wound up being the only one person. A man came in on 125th street. He stares at me as soon as he gets on, whole train is empty, sits across from me and says “your pretty,” “whats your name?” I try not to pay attention and he proceeds to put his hand into his crotch, this has happened to me before and I did not look, I got up and moved to the other side of the car and got off the train at the next stop..
It was a scary experience and I felt this man was going to attack me if I did not get off the train at the next stop..
It was about 5am. I am walking to work while I see a car driving down the street starting to slow down. As I walked by, the car comes to a full stop and the driver rolls down his window. He says something to me but I’m not about to stop and listen. I continue to walk thinking it’s fine. Then I realize he turned around his car and started chasing me. I go through a small parking lot thinking there is no way he would drive through. He did. I make my way to an alley way where he could not fit his car through. Bad idea. He gets off his car and chases me by foot. There was a combination of terror, anguish and anger. Lots of anger. I turned around to see him walking down behind me with no shoes and no shirt on. There was no one around to see me, no one to help. Something overcomes me, the anger. I did not plan it but it just came out. I yelled at him “what the fuck is wrong with you?” I hear the anger in my voice. I was shocked to see I had it in me. I thought I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to scream. His reaction was priceless. He looked so shocked, his jaw dropped. He turned around and walked away.
… only then did I think of running…
Harassment is not OK. Not doing anything to stop it is to play into it.
After getting off the train, I make my way home. It happened to be raining outside so not many were around. I turn to another block and walk alone. Aware of my surroundings, I hear a car near and it stops next to me. I keep walking and then it follows me and opens the windows. I hear a voice saying “hey beautiful, want a ride?” I keep walking but he keeps calling and won’t leave so I ended up cutting corners and running home in a way that he can’t follow me.
Guy on street, gets up real close and loud: BEAUTIFUL
Me, initially frozen: RUDE
Three minutes later
Guy on bike: *whistles at me*
Me, still too pissed about the first guy: …
Voice in my head: FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU I AM NOT HERE FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT I AM NOT SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN CALL ATTENTION TO FOR YOUR STATUS OR EGO I AM NOT AN ENTRY IN YOUR SPANK BANK BUT SINCE YOU’RE SUCH A TOOL YOU CAN KEEP IT TO YOURSELF AND STOP MAKING ME FEEL THREATENED *FUCK* *YOU* AND KEEP WALKING.
This morning, in BROAD DAYLIGHT, at 7:15am, I walk down into the subway station like I do every morning. I have my headphones in per usual and don’t really pay mind to a man standing near the Metro Card machine. As I swipe my card and am about to pass through the turnstile, that man comes up right behind me, puts his hand right up under my skirt, and very explicitly, very aggressively, open-palm gropes my vagina. I immediately start running my mouth, yelling at the top of my lungs and, to my surprise, he starts yelling right back at me. Ohh, he was just trying to holla at me, get my name, get my number. THAT GIVES YOU NO FUCKING RIGHT — THIS IS MY BODY, YOU ARE NOT FREE TO TOUCH IT. I felt small, I felt disgusted, but with the turnstile separating us, I felt safe enough to do this. I was incapable of doing every damn thing I imagined I would do in a situation like this because I was paralyzed with terror. A group of men witnessed the whole thing, were ready to jump in and help, and called the police to report the incident as he ran off into the street. Shaking and completely terrified, a woman on the platform came up to me and gave me a hug. Forever grateful for that moment of community. Our stories matter — don’t be silenced.
It around 9pm on a Friday night and I went into a restaurant to get a quick dinner. I was sitting at a counter in front of the window facing 6th avenue, when I noticed an obviously drunk man staring at me from the other side. This went on for a while, and he tried to get me to react by tapping on the glass and catcalling. I ignored him, and continued eating. I noticed somebody had just sat next to me, and when I looked over I was shocked to find the same man right next to me, staring at me. I tried to ignore him. He kept getting closer, and then said, “Hey, my car is right down the block. Come with me baby? You want to.” He said it in the most sexually aggressive way and leaned in, as if to try to kiss me!! I was appalled and I just said STOP really loud, enough for people to turn and face us. Then I stormed out, mid meal, feeling like I had been prayed upon. A second after leaving, I wish I had stood up more fiercely, threatened to call the police (or actually called them), or alerted the management, but it happened so quickly and I just wanted to escape. I get catcalled often in the city, and a few times its been really aggressive (once, this guy unzipped his fly and said “want to ride on my big dick baby girl”). Somehow, this just felt worse, especially when I realized that he could have been following me as I walked down 6th avenue, even once I was inside the restaurant.