“STOP STARING AT ME”

Every morning on my way to work, I ride the same bus. I have been riding this bus for 3 years. A couple of months ago, I started noticing that this middle-aged white male in business suit attire would stare at me continually for the duration of the bus ride. He sits sideways in his seat so that he can swivel his head 180 degrees and see me no matter where I sit on the bus – in front of him, behind him, to the side; it doesn’t matter where I sit because he’ll adjust his posture to find me. His constant leering makes me incredibly uncomfortable and ruins my morning commute.

In the beginning, I stared back, hoping to make him uncomfortable. One time I mouthed the word, “NO,” and shook my head at him. These passive attempts have had no effect and he continues to ogle me.

Yesterday, I was waiting for my bus to return home and all of a sudden this same man was standing next to me. I had my hands full of two heavy grocery bags and felt completely defenseless. I started to feel scared that he was beginning to stalk me. He knows what stop I get off/on the bus. What’s to stop him from following me home one afternoon?

Today I was close to standing up from my seat on the bus and saying something to him. I want to say, “Stop staring at me,” loudly so that everyone on the bus can hear me. I think that the more people who witness assertive actions against harassment the better because the peer effect is incredibly strong. Another option I’ve considered is simply writing or typing out “STOP STARING AT ME” on a piece of paper and giving it to him.

This is by far the worst “street” harassment I’ve experienced in my 13 years riding public transportation. I would say that I experience harassment from men on a daily basis while out on the street/at work/shopping, etc., but never to this extreme on a bus.

I consider myself to be a very tough person and am used to living in an urban environment where one has to constantly deflect “attacks,” but I didn’t realize how damaging mere leering could be. When I was in Chicago this past weekend, I saw advertisements on the CTA which read: “If it’s unwanted, it’s harassment. Touching. Rude Comments. Leering. Speak up. If you see something, say something.” After reading that, I realized that I didn’t even know that this kind of harassment was something I didn’t HAVE to endure. I just accepted it as life.

Minneapolis public transit NEEDS these advertisements on its buses and trains. The more people who are exposed to these sorts of messages, the more likely it is that this kind of harassment will cease. I find it sad that we need to tell men how to behave in 2010. Our society is going backwards.

– anonymous

Location: Minneapolis, MN

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.

7 Responses to “STOP STARING AT ME”

  1. Alan says:

    Hi Anonymous in Minneapolis. I hope you will be able to stand up to this person. I think you’re right, the offender needs to hear it, but so do the people around you. Sadly it sounds you’ll have future opportunities to confront this person.

  2. anonymous says:

    I’m happy to report that yesterday during my morning commute I actually did something about this jerk. I was seated on the bus across and behind him while he was sitting (as usual) sideways in his seat. Near the end of the ride, I felt his lecherous eyes boring into my skull and so turned to face him. This time, I put my hand out in front of him like “STOP!” I successfully blocked out his offensive face with my hand, which felt good. To my absolute horror, he thought I was WAVING at him and began to smile. So I said flatly and directly: “Stop staring at me.” He became immediately defensive and said, “I wasn’t staring at you!” There were some other words that came out of his mouth, but I had my headphones on and couldn’t make them out clearly (and didn’t want to). I finished things off with, “Don’t look at me, man,” and then continued to sit there looking out the window as the ride continued. Later on, I glanced over at him to make sure he wasn’t still staring at me and noticed he was smiling to himself creepily. Who knows what he was thinking, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he perceived our altercation to be “progress” and now believes he has “permission” to talk to me in the future. Starting next week, I will be taking a different bus to work. While not the most convenient of choices, I can’t stand the feeling of dread that washes over me every time I get on that bus and see his stupid face. It felt really good to tell him to stop harassing me, though, and I was fortunate to have a busload of people as witnesses. I encourage anyone who is experiencing even the subtlest of harassment (such as leering) to tell the harasser to stop and then disengage as quickly as possible – preferably in front of witnesses.

  3. Congratulations on telling your harasser what you wanted him to do – stop staring! That can be such a big barrier to women as most of us have been socialized to be polite and not make a scene. It takes a lot of guts.

    It makes me so mad on your behalf that you will change bus routes b/c he’s creeped you out so much.:/ Maybe you could try your normal route one more time now that you’ve confronted him and see what happens before changing to a less convenient route?

  4. Golden Silence says:

    I agree with the admin. Don’t let this guy make you inconvenience yourself by changing your route.

  5. S says:

    This guy is a pervert and an idiot. The idiot thinks because you spoke to him, that he probably will have your attention or get to talk to you now. Go ahead and shout out if that idiot all the sudden makes an appearance: Leave me alone, don’t think I won’t report you to security just because I have taken your harassment for two months! That sicko! I have run into soo many people like this. I am sorry about that, sometimes we have to change our routes just to get away from these sickos.. I hope something works out.

  6. anonymous says:

    This morning, after much deliberation, I decided to take an alternate bus route to work to avoid the ogling creep. It wasn’t too much of an inconvenience for me. When I boarded the new bus, I automatically scanned the seats, looking for that jerk. Chances were unlikely that I’d see him on this bus, but I’m so used to his icky presence that searching for him has become second nature – for EVERY bus ride, actually. I cannot begin to explain the flood of euphoric relief that came over me when I didn’t see his disgusting face anywhere! As much as I wanted to be stalwart and stubbornly continue to ride my usual route, the anxiety and anger I felt daily just wasn’t worth it anymore. You have to choose your battles.

    Thank you all for your supportive comments. It was because I discovered this site that I felt empowered to finally DO something about my problem instead of just being angry about it. I hope more people are inspired by all of you. Thank you.

  7. Thanks for the update. I’m still upset @ the harasser for prompting the bus change, but I’m glad you can finally go to work in peace. And you left on a high note – you told him what he was doing wrong. That takes guts! And now i’m wishing you a continued harassment-free commute!

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