I am 17 and live in Portland, Oregon, a supposedly liberal city, but the street harrassment is constant. On a weekly basis I deal with the prolonged, creepy stares of men who are obviously twice my age. This isn’t a 5 second look over, this is a fifteen minute intense, no blinking, staring right at my chest for a 15 minute bus ride kind of staring. Every couple of weeks a man will do something suggestive along with the creepy stare. They act surprised when I don’t like it! The city train is also a terrible place to be. At one point a group of four teenage boys had an animated discussion about my breasts while standing about two feet away from me. I asked them to stop and they laughed and continued.
This sort of attention really bothers me, but it’s not the worst thing. Last summer I had just gotten my driver license. I was at a local city library, somewhere I had always felt quite safe. I checked out my books, walked through the parking lot, got in my car, locked the door and was just about to leave when this stranger walked up to my car and knocked on my window. So I roll down my window a couple of centimeters so I could hear what he was trying to say. He told me he had seen me in the library and wanted to go out. Again, he was probably twice my age. I was obviously much younger. I said no, rolled up my window, and drove away very shaken.
Street harassment is always annoying and frequently scary. I try not to let it limit where I go and what I do but it does. There are certain places I will not walk alone, I always sit as close to the bus driver as I can, and I avoid trains completely. I don’t think the clothes one wears matter much, but I avoid wearing tight shirts or tank tops if I’m going somewhere alone because I feel more visible and vulnerable. I wear shoes I know I can run in. I see guys on the street and think about where I can go if the comments get unbearable. It’s exhausting to be anywhere in public long because I have to be hyper-aware to avoid what potentially dangerous situations.
Location: Portland, Oregon