In Athens, Ohio, USA, I was having an evening workout around 7 PM. I was running in shorts and a tank top, minding my own business when a group of teenage boys in a sedan slowed down next to me. One of them said in a sing-songy voice:
“There she go, the fine ass ho.”
I WAS 15. I froze. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing while they drove off laughing. I was scared to death, I wanted to cry, and most of all, I couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would terrorize a girl like that. Now that I’m 22, I realize that my offense was being in public while female. And, even more egregious was the offense of wearing shorts and a tank top while young and attractive.
I wish I could say that I reacted strongly every time I’ve been harassed since then, but it’s not that simple. You can never be prepared to react to a harasser, because it is impossible to tell which man will be the next perpetrator. So these days, I just stare straight ahead and stomp my ass off. Nothing scares harassers more than confidence. But, when men harass me anyway, I still find myself at a loss, frozen, scared, with no sense of how to react until after the fact.
Location: Athens, OH