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I was walking through a new neighborhood midday to see if it was any less harassy than the place I used to live. Sadly, in a 30 minute walk, I was harassed twice. Both times there were bystanders, and both times the bystanders did NOTHING AT ALL.
First, on this side-street, a man on a motorbike slowed down and stared at me. I mean really slow. And staring right in my eyes. It felt really threatening. The man walking in front of me with his little dog didn’t react at all. After the guy on the motorbike rode away, I commented, “Man, I wish I could walk down the street like you and not have to be harassed all the time.” The guy turned around and looked surprised and said, “Oh I just thought he was slowing down. I didn’t know what he was doing.” He looked at me like I was crazy for thinking that counted as harassment.
Then literally a block away, a group of guys were hanging out on the street corner, and one of them hollered at me, “Hey big girl, can I walk with you?” I said “No” and he and all his friends had a good laugh as he told them I said no. This is both absurd and infuriating. Just because I’m a large girl gives you no right to comment on my body or ask for something that is obviously intrusive. How can we make this stop???
As I was leaving Kroger with my groceries at 9pm on a Sunday night, the parking lot is nearly empty. A man walks up out of the darkness and suddenly asks me what kind of perfume I’m wearing. I hadn’t showered because I was sick, and I was wearing gross gym clothes. I certainly wasn’t wearing any perfume. Doesn’t really matter, but it made me feel especially uncomfortable that clearly even what he was saying didn’t make any sense unless he was trying to offend me.
I ignore him and keep walking to my car. I keep him in the corner of my eye because he starts flailing his arms, saying “All I asked was what perfume she’s wearing!” as he walks back to his two male friends in the dark. I rush to my car and get in as fast as I can because he keeps yelling about it and sounds like he’s getting really mad.
What makes him think he has the right to approach a stranger in the dark and demand that she respond to his questions? I did hear his friends telling him to calm down, so at least the bystanders were a little helpful. But I wish they would have kept him from approaching me in the first place.
Almost every day walking to work, I am just walking along Carlton avenue as all of the construction workers are driving to their jobs in their trucks (this is not an assumption – these are pickup trucks with the contractor business names on them and construction supplies in the back), and at least 2 or 3 of them will slow down next to me and stare like wild dogs at me with their tongues out. I will glare right back and look them in the eyes and they seem to get a kick out of the fact that I’m offended and clearly want them to stop gawking. Every once in a while they make comments.
When I pass someone who is not in a car, I can preemptively look them in the face and give a stern “hello” and that tends to keep them from harassing me, at least most of the time. But when they’re in a car/truck, there is nothing I can do and they drive away before I can write down their license plate or call their boss. It’s infuriating. It makes me not want to walk anymore and instead drive my car to work, which goes against what I believe in both for my physical freedom and well-being as well as the environment. I’m so sick of this. It has to stop.
This happens at least twice every time I walk more than a block in this town. It’s not surprising that so many people are being abducted and murdered, that so many are raped every week here, when harassment is so common.
It was 8pm, but already getting dark, and there are still folks walking around on The Corner, which is an area that is part of the UVA and Charlottesville culture. I’m just walking home from a great event about women in church leadership, and twice in the dark come out different grungy men, talking to me, and pissed when I don’t stop and smile and chat with them.
What makes them think they have the right to expect a stranger, just because she’s female, just because she’s a big girl, etc. to have to talk to them? The entitlement is disgusting. As I walk away, I hear them getting angry and commenting about how rude I am for not talking to them.
I just walk on because it’s not my problem and I just want to get home safely. But it’s terrible that we have to be afraid, treated like subjects…
(Quick comment- I live in Reston, Virginia, so this is the nearest Hollaback location to me, and I wanted to share my story with people who live near me and experience similar things, possibly even from the same people.)
On a run in my neighborhood today, a man in a car passing me wolf whistled. As a minor, (I’m only 14!), it was my first negative experience of such a kind.
It made me feel unsafe to be running alone because I knew other people with more physical power (a man in a car) were looking at my body sexually, and I could do nothing about it, even if they chose to pursue me further.
I am also deeply disturbed to realize that even as a minor running in a family community, I can be made to feel unsafe.
I want to end street harassment because it makes me feel unsafe and unhappy, and that is no way for any person to feel!
A group of six men walking toward me on my way to work all started whistling and saying crude things, when one man said, “I’d love to eat you for dinner tonight!”
I went into the convenience store to grab a soda. As I walk in I notice that the guy at the counter leaves the counter and follows me to the fridge. I grab my drink and glance over, figuring that perhaps he forgot something. When I glance over he is messing with something in a book bag. This was strange so I walk away quickly to the counter. Sure enough this guy follows me and stands next to me. While I’m paying he continues to mess with something in his bag. I look over and realize it’s a video camera!!! As I’m waiting for the transaction to end, I know what he is going to do. I knew he was just waiting for me to turn around to leave so that he could film me walking to my car. I thought maybe I was being paranoid, but after I got my receipt I turned to leave but then abruptly turned straight back around. Sure enough- there he was video camera aimed right at me. I palmed the camera down and shouted “what the f#$* is wrong with you?” And he just gives me a blank look before pretending not to speak English. I looked at the store clerk, but just blank stares from everyone. I called the police but he was long gone. I felt sooooo angry for the rest of the day. One of the worst part was having other people around do/say nothing. Everyone was just starting at me like “oh no- what is she going to do” and in my head I’m screaming THIS IS NOT OK!
As I was walking home from class a man in his mid 30s approached me. He stopped me and said “damn you got a nice rack” and I told him to shove it and leave me alone. As I started to walk away he grabbed me by the shoulder and called me a cunt who couldn’t take a compliment.