Men think that my body is public property

I go to school in Seattle, Washington, US. I have always lived in Washington. For me, street harassment started when I was in high school.

I started riding public transportation when I was 17, because I was in a program at my high school where I could take college classes and receive credit for both high school and college. I couldn’t get a car so I had to ride the bus. Over my time in high school, I was followed off the bus by grown men and harassed by a bus driver and several passengers.

I am 21 now, I go to school in Seattle, and the harassment has only gotten worse. I have been followed down the street by a man screaming at me and calling me a bitch because I wouldn’t stop to talk to him. I’ve been groped, grabbed by the arm, cornered on the bus, catcalled, honked at and yelled at from cars, you name it. Men have tried to get up close and invade my personal space when I refuse to talk to them.

The time I was groped, I was waiting at my bus stop in the International District. A man came up to me and started introducing himself and trying to have a conversation with me. I can’t remember what I said to him, but I made my answers short and tried to brush him off. When I went to put my headphones on, he tried to reach down the front of my shirt. At first I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of what to do, but then I managed to yell “Don’t touch me!” Other people waiting at the stop looked my way, the guy got embarrassed and left.

I have gotten increasingly wary of strangers because of this and the fact that I am catcalled two or three times a week.

So what I have been doing now is holding my head high, walking with a strong, purposeful gait, and trying to appear intimidating (which is hard to do when you’re 5′ 2″). I thought maybe that would make me less of a target. I yell back and I give people the middle finger. So far it hasn’t changed anything.

Everyone spends all this time telling us we should watch what we wear, where we go, what time we go out, etc. I just want to live my life and not worry if the guy that groped me would have stopped if no one had been around to see. Or if something worse will happen.

I am so sick of taking their shit. I’m sick of these men that think they are entitled to treat me however they want. Men that think my body is public property. I just want to walk down the street in peace.

– Lisa

Location: Seattle, WA

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.

4 Responses to Men think that my body is public property

  1. Lisa,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Keep standing tall. I admire your courage! I’m so sorry you have to deal with all these harassments!

  2. Golden Silence says:

    Everyone spends all this time telling us we should watch what we wear, where we go, what time we go out, etc. I just want to live my life and not worry if the guy that groped me would have stopped if no one had been around to see. Or if something worse will happen.

    You can do everything that’s considered a harassment deterrent in the book, but this nonsense will still happen. Women need to stop being told what to do not to provoke a harasser, and harassers need to be held accountable for their actions.

    You are brave for continuing on with your life and not letting the harassers win!

  3. Lisa says:

    The sad part is I’m not the only one who experiences this level of harassment. I’ve discussed it with my friends and they all have similar stories. We were talking about it in class once and someone told me she feels it’s a liability to be a woman in Seattle.

    I was shocked by how true that statement felt to me.

  4. Golden Silence says:

    The sad part is I’m not the only one who experiences this level of harassment. I’ve discussed it with my friends and they all have similar stories.

    Is this going on in the same neighborhood in Seattle? If so, is there any way you women can bond together and rally against it? Maybe you can get a neighborhood watch group involved or something.

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