The absolute worst area for harassment that I’ve ever lived in is Hendersonville, Tennessee. In this supposedly “safe”, “down-home”, “good-old-boys” environment, I experienced the terror of having to dodge objects thrown at me from cars and incidents of indecent exposure in addition to the ubiquitous catcalls.
As we all know, it can be intimidating to someone walking, or on a bicycle, to be honked at or run down by a driver who “just wants to talk” or offers a “ride.” But on several occasions, either the driver of the car or his passenger actually threw things at me while I was walking or biking alongside the road. They threw stuff like:
– Bottles, cans, trash, fast-food bags, cups full of soda.
– Lit firecrackers (Southern boys seem especially fond of their cherry bombs and M-80s).
– And in one terrifying incident in a suburban neighborhood off Indian Lake Road, I had a broken homemade skateboard (seriously, what was this guy doing with that thing in his car?!?!) thrown at me, along with a tide of insults. This one made contact. It hurt like crazy but I managed to make it home. When I told my parents, they advised me to not go into that area (and it was NOT a bad neighborhood!), and my mother acted like I’d done something to deserve it.
I also had a horse at one point and my friends and I liked to ride on less-traveled roads. You might think people would take heed to be more careful, but it had the opposite effect. Men would drive by slowly, honking their horns and yelling, trying to scare the animals – a dangerous activity since a startled horse is unpredictable. Fortunately mine wasn’t too easily spooked by that kind of stuff.
I was 14 years old.
And that’s only in addition to having to hear every 3 minutes or so how nice your ass is or how fat it is, depending on the personal taste of whomever’s yelling at you. You get this from about age 9 on up till you’re 80 or so, I reckon (Nope, I’m not there yet.) And calling the police? Don’t make me laugh. Officers hate responding to this kind of crap because it’s not like anybody ACTUALLY grabbed you and threw you in his trunk or anything, so what should THEY do about it?
Women are not exempt. A neighbor boy my age also experienced this kind of threatening behavior, although I’m sure they didn’t tell him he had nice tits… he just had stuff thrown at him. And for those of you who might think it’s a “compliment”, things like that are often said to women in the same kind of threatening tone that you’d typically reserve for your arch enemy.
I retaliated by packing a bag and getting OUT of that hellhole literally the SECOND I turned 18 and could do so legally, and I’ve never gone back. I got myself a scholarship, got an education, got a good job and make it a point to only date men who treat other people- not just women but ALL human beings- with respect.
To this day I’ll never set foot in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Those people think they’re better than everyone else. Maybe I haven’t learned my lesson, but I still walk to work… what can I say, I like the exercise. 🙂
Location: Hendersonville, TN