It’s time harassing men faced real consequences for their actions

I was walking down the street in downtown Denver, Colorado, near the State Capitol, in July 2008 minding my own business. I know people love to blame women and what we wear for the rude, threatening and harassing behavior of men. Because of course, men can’t in any way be held responsible for their actions and reactions to women, right? It’s always the woman’s fault. Well, I’m tired of being blamed. So, I’m not even going to mention what I was wearing because it is irrelevant. I was wearing what millions of American women wear every summer. I will leave it at that. I’m sure someone else will want to blame me for where I was walking, as if I had no right to walk freely where I want in my own city in broad daylight. I’m not going to take any blame for that either. The men in this scenario are to blame.

I was walking down the street and there were two men ahead of me. I didn’t think anything of it. But suddenly, they must have heard me walking behind them, even though I was still quite a distance away. Then, they both stopped and stood there in the middle of the sidewalk, staring and leering at me. Two men against one woman. I despised them at that moment.

I slowed down to assess the situation. Even though it was the middle of the afternoon in broad daylight, there was no one else around at the time. I felt scared and nervous because they just kept standing there staring at me as I walked toward them. As I approached them, one man extended his arms, asking for a hug, the other just stood there and glared at me with this mean look. I walked a wide half-circle around them and I said “Stop staring at me and leave me alone!!! Stop harassing women!!!” The one who held out his arms acquiesced and said, “Alright, we will.” Just like that. I continued to watch my back as I walked further away from them. The other man continued to give me a mean stare as I walked by. I stared right back at him.

I continued on until I got to a place where there were a lot more people and got on the light rail train I needed. But the feelings of anger and injustice of that event remain to this day. These jerks got to harass, disturb my peace of just walking down the street, minding my own business. What right did they have to stand there and stare at me, making me feel unsafe? Who are these men, who think they have the right to disrupt women’s lives like this without consequences.

But there are consequences, more than they’ll ever realize. These types of men make women HATE them. It makes us want to take action against them. I should never have had to deal with that. No woman should. Yet, we are forced to day in and day out by a culture that sees women primarily as sex objects with body parts that are toys for immature, stupid men to play with.

So, I ask you, what did I do to deserve being treated this way by 2 men I’d never seen before in my life. I was female, that’s what. Guilty as charged. Because these men are so weak and selfish and powerless, they feel a temporary rise in a feeling of false power by harassing women who are strangers to them. Mature men know that power can never come from harming another person, by demeaning them with disrespectful behavior.

I’m writing this because this is only one of many occasions of harassment I have had to deal with in my life. I’ve been harassed when wearing summer clothes. I’ve had men make unwanted comments to me wearing winter coats and clothes. I’ve been followed in grocery stores, had men I didn’t know stare me down in parking lots as I put groceries in my trunk. I’ve had men “hitting on me” on the train and while I waited for trains, to the point of being intrusive and rude. I’ve been sexually harassed at work, having pornographic emails sent to me on company email. I’ve had men make rude, unwanted overtures to me as I walked into my apartment complex. I’ve had men stare at my breasts through binoculars. Need I say anymore?

I’ve had it with men. I’ve heard men say out of anger, when they hear of women filing complaints of sexual harassment, how they want to make women pay. Funny how men have no idea of how much women like me want to make them pay. And they will.

This harassment is a problem. I’m tired of it being minimized. I’m tired of women being given all the responsibility to stop it. I’m tired of there being no legislation to protect women. I’m tired of men being given a free pass to harass women and not be expected to take any responsibility for controlling themselves. I refuse to take any blame for these despicable men’s behavior.

– L.S.

Location: Denver, Colorado

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

7 Responses to It’s time harassing men faced real consequences for their actions

  1. I’m tired of it too! Thanks for sharing your displeasure at the way women are treated on the streets. I HATE< HATE HATE IT!!!

  2. KO says:

    As a man who has been repeatedly sexually harassed, I am disturbed that you only speak sexual harassment as a man to woman issue. Men are increasingly the victims of sexual harassment from women as well. Women have a lot more protection from sexual harassment than men.

    http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/relationship-issues/articles/women-harassing-men-1

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n2_v47/ai_16448403/?tag=content;col1

    http://seaswell.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/opposite-day-what-happens-when-women-harass-men/

    http://jezebel.com/5021552/sexual-harassment-equality-a-how-not-to-guide

  3. Oh please, like some woman is going to grab his breasts on the street, call him names, or rape and kill him. Men need to stop whining about the 1% of harassment they get from women and instead focus their energies on insisting that men of all nationalities stop harrassing females. It begins at an early age. I remember being no more than 12 years old getting off the bus coming home from school, and having grown men make comments to me of a pick up sexual nature. When I didn’t respond favorably, I was called a bitch, a slut, and “a ho that thought I was too good to talk to somebody.” I was a kid. They were grown men. It was humiliating, confusing and made me enraged — all at the same time.

    Another time I was a bit older, coming home from high school… I was about 15. Some old White man started following me in his car. Slowly, hollering foul things to me out the window of his car. I kept walking, but I started to cry. As I got to my street, I turned and the guy turned with me. He was so busy staring at me that he didn’t notice my father coming out of the garage with his toolbelt on. My dad said “hey kid!” then he saw my tears. He looked at the man and saw what was going on. He ran over to the guy (who didn’t see him until it was too late and his car was jacked up) and my dad took the claw end of that hammer and drove it into the guy’s car side panel and PULLED. Ripped a huge hole in that Cadillac. The guy was so stunned he mashed the gas and bolted out of there.

    One day at work a group of us were walking back from lunch and a guy walked by and grabbed the breast of a coworker. Gave a squeeze and kept going. By then I was older (in my 20s) and weight lifting and boxing, so if he had done that to ME he would have been decked in half a second. But he did it to someone else that was stunned and who cried.

    I don’t understand why males think they have the right to harass women on the street and make demands on us, touch our bodies, or demand that we touch them by blocking our paths or pressing against us on crowded buses and trains.

    Every woman I know has been harassed in these and other ways dozens of times during her lifetime. The man above wants to make a big deal out of the one time he got harrassed by a woman. She was probably paying you back so you could see how it feels.

  4. Sue says:

    Look, this staring and harrassment of women by men – it’s got nothing whatever to do with the way you are dressed.
    I am a fifty year old woman who at the moment, due to severe weather where I live, happens to be dressed for the snow whenever I go out.
    That means I have been wearing the full togs, jumpers, trousers, full overcoat with hood and some very practical but un-sexy shoes.
    But guess what, I still get stares and unwanted attentions from strange men.
    One guy even did a U-turn when he passed me the other day. Next thing I know he’s walking fast up behind me. As this occurred on a short woodland route on the way home, I began to run for the houses to get away from him.
    Then there are the regular staring ‘matches’ they subject you to, or they always try to catch your eye when passing you by.
    Basically they’re just fucking animals in my book. I’ve got no time for them, especially men my own age, they are even worse.
    They don’t care that you might be in a relationship or even married to someone. All they can think about is themselves and their own seedy little physical needs.
    They are either after wanting to get up your skirt, or it’s a power and dominance thing. Either way, I hate their guts, and I just don’t know why they can’t all go and shoot themselves.

  5. Isadora says:

    I’m just 13 and from the UK and I’m sick of harrassment too! I have large boobs which aren’t my fault, what do men expect me to do chop them off! I should not be persistently harrassed becuse of them.
    Just yesterday me and my friend were walking up her street, there were two boys/men of between 20-25 infront of us. Suddenly one of them turned round, looked me directly in the eyes and wolf whistled, I, being used to this sort of thing ignored it but I could tell my friend was a little shocked. We walked passed them and then I heard the boy singing “Get your tits out, get your tits out. You’ve got big boobs you’ve got big boobs, give us a look” again and again. By this point me and my friend were a little scared and holding hands and too top it off there was another group of about 5 boys of about 15 ahead who kept looking. Suddenly the first boy ran ahead of us and screamed “I want you, how old are you? I want you” and my friend told him to please leave us alone. He wouldn’t so we began to practically run down the street, thankfully the boys ahead turned around and asked if we were ok and told us to walk ahead of them they “had our backs” but really we found the whole experience terrifying. If those boys hadn’t been there I dread to think what would have happened! I don’t want to put up with this for the rest of my life. When will men learn it’s not cool, or funny? It’s demeaning and scary and HAS TO END!!!!

  6. Isadora says:

    Oh and I forgot to previously mention he also called me a slut which almost hurt the most as it’s such a rude and upsetting term. I mean whatever the male equivalent of a slut is. That’s him!

  7. Sue. says:

    To Isadora,
    At thirteen you’re still only a child, but you may look older to some men if you happen to have largish breasts.
    I am not pretending that I can offer you the best advice since I am no expert, but next time if you are confronted in that way, maybe it’s best to say to them, as slowly and as calmly as you can, that you are only thirteen and wish to be left alone. Then carry on walking.
    There is no easy answer to this kind of thing I am afraid. I am glad you were with a friend and not on your own. If you have a mobile phone, perhaps you could call for help once you get to a safe place, and perhaps it might be worth considering carrying an attack alarm.
    As I said, I am a fifty year old, yet I am still regularly harrassed, usually by men of my own age now. It only happened to me again the other day.
    Unfortunately, society seems to blame women a lot when something bad happens to them. Most of the time, women are not to blame for being raped or harrassed. As a society, it seems that we have not yet arrived at the point where males are actually taken to task for their actions and attitudes about women. All to often, women are still perceived in the wrong way, as objects for sexual gratification, rather than as people in their own right, deserving of respect.
    I hope that one day this situation will change, especially in your lifetime. In the meantime, stay safe and try always to keep to busy places where there are people around.

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