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 wearingand 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.
Location: Denver, Colorado