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I was out with a friend this morning walking on Murray Ave. We were taking pictures in the snow before going into the Giant Eagle. As I was walking into the grocery store, a man came up to me and showed me a photo he had taken of me while we were taking pictures. It was a photo taken from behind me, zoomed in and mostly of my butt. When he showed me the picture I started yelling at him at which point he said he would delete it. This was not a case of another person randomly showing up in a photo. It was a deliberate decision to sexually harass. It seemed since he showed me that picture that the whole reason he took it was to demonstrate his own power and to make me feel unsafe.
It was around lunch time and I was walking down Carson St. in the South Side. A man told me to smile and said, “It can’t be that bad” as he proceeded to hit me a few times with a glove. I get told to smile often but I was pretty shocked this man thought it was ok to hit a stranger, even if it was lighthearted.
I was sitting outside the Greyhound station and a man across the street started humping the air grabbing his crotch in an exaggerated manner looking straight at me, and even pointing for a moment. I flipped him off and yelled “f*** you a**hole” – he walked away. A few minutes later he walked back, he was on the same sidewalk as me this time and he said “what, you think I am gonna rape you??”
I just looked down as he kept walking down the street.
I was heading back to my car after a work happy hour. I bummed a cigarette off a guy who was standing with some friends. They asked me some questions and it turned out they owned a nearby business. After a minute or two one of their friends said “Hey, do you have a sense of humor” I laughed and shrugged, I was actually about to give his friend my card because its my job to work with business owners. He said “Why don’t you come back to our office and gang bang us?” I was so completely shocked I just said “That’s not funny” and walked away. As I walked away I did hear some of his friends giving him a hard time but they were making a joke of it like saying “That’s why you don’t work for us anymore.”
I should start this story by saying that I’m fourteen years old.
Last week, I had finished a class at an art center in Manchester and was heading towards Downtown to meet my Dad. I got on the T alone, and it was only 5:00 but it was already dark. On the T, there was only one couple there, so I sat a few rows ahead of them and on the other side. The entire rest of the T was empty until an older man (later I found out he was 48) sat directly across from me, staring right at me. I was extremely freaked out, and since we hadn’t gone underground yet, I called my Dad and talked to him for a few minutes. When I hung up, the man started talking to me. He said he saw me running to catch the T and I nodded, and politely turned away. A few seconds later he asked, “What are you, eighteen? Nineteen?” I said firmly, “NO.” and again tried to ignore him. I honestly felt terrified and really unsafe. A few minutes later, he spoke again, waving a business card in my face. “Can I use your phone to call my brother? His number is right on here?” I said “No, I don’t think I can do that, sorry. I don’t have reception down here anyways.” I was honestly terrified as he kept pressuring me, asking me over and over again for my phone. Finally he went and asked the other couple, telling them his age. I was repulsed. This man was old enough to be my father (in fact younger than my dad). Yet he took it upon himself to harass a girl who was just trying to take the public transportation system. He made me feel really unsafe, but also very angry.
Girls shouldn’t have to be harassed for taking public transit, no matter what time of day it is or how many people are around. It’s happened to me many times, and it’s so bad that I now have anxiety attacks anytime I’m alone at night or outside. In my city, on my buses, on the same transit system I take every day, this man took my feelings of safety away from me.
I went swimming in the gym several months ago, and after a few laps, I noticed someone swimming behind me. At first, I thought he bumped into me by accident, but after several “incidents,” I couldn’t excuse it – each time he came close enough, he grabbed my swim-suited behind. I started to panic, but the female lifeguard noticed, game him a talking to, and asked him to leave (thanks girl)!
A few weeks later, I was using the treadmill and after a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t alone; a man had come in and propped himself up on a machine for the show. When I took my earbuds out to see what the deal was, he gave me the ultimate (NOT) compliment: “I just love watching you run.”
Hey thanks, but no thanks. I didn’t tell anyone for weeks – I thought maybe I was just being petty….but a gym should be safe for all women. And the street. And our homes.
The respect starts now – SPEAK UP!
I work as a dog walker in the North Side of Pittsburgh. I was walking a Lab-Great Dane mix (a huge animal–super sweet, terrible watchdog) into one of the historic public parks in the North Side like I do everyday. On this particular day, a man with two teardrop tattoos next to his eye said to me, “Hey, girl–not trying to hit on you or nothin’, but you got a body like a sister.” ‘Sister’, I’m assuming, in the sense of I looked like I had the body of a Black woman (like there is one stereotype for a Black woman’s body).
How do you respond to that? “Yeah, man–ditto.”
I could deal with his half-assed “compliment”–after all, I had heard “Hey, baby, put a leash on me and take me for a walk!” more times than I could count since starting this job in August.
What I had a hard time dealing with was my boss’ reaction after I shared my story: he said, “Most of those guys are just putting up a front–they run to the other side of the street when I walk up the street”–what? How was this even remotely helpful to my situation?!
This is why I work with dogs and not humans.
I posted this on my Facebook account the day after the street harassment happened and got such an outpouring of support. Thought I would share it on here too:
Last night, I was walking down the street with friends when some boys standing on their porch across the street began yelling at us. At first it was pretty basic–asking us where we were going, telling us to come over, yelling out random names to us to see if one of them was ours. Then, as I was going into my friend’s home, one of them yelled “I’ll rape you, bitch.” I was appalled, offended, and so very angry. Those of you that know will not be surprised to hear that I went OFF on him. But this situation goes much further than my anger and outrage. Many of you may have heard of the term rape culture before, and may not know what it means. I will define it for you as best as I can–it is a culture in which the dominant images, dialogues, and societal practices and institutions normalize and excuse rape and sexual violence/assault. That is, blaming the victim, excusing sexual assault by saying “boys will be boys,” and teaching “don’t get raped” rather than teaching “don’t rape.” The comment made to me last night was probably the most overt display of rape culture (not to mention arrogance and disrespect), that I have ever experienced. Of course I see rape culture displayed everyday on television and in music videos and even in casual conversation among those I know and love. But what happened to me last night hit home more than my everyday run-ins with this problem. What I’m hoping this post will do is create a dialogue about rape culture and street harassment for those who may not have thought about it before. It’s not just an important issue for feminists, or women, or college students–it’s important for everyone.
p.s. Boy who yelled at me….I know where you live, asshole.