“A male ally in the construction industry!”

I live in Sydney, Australia, and for 98% of the time I can walk the streets feeling very safe. I’ve never had more than a drunkard say, “Woah, look at them breasts!” but have never been physically threatened/touched. And at my 5ft height, that isn’t a hard thing to do. However, I always get the good mornings and hellos from groups of men that my gut instinct says are up to no good, with that long and lingering glare while they look at my body. I feel violated.

When construction for a new apartment building began next to mine, I felt ill. Each morning walking to the train station I’d walk as fast as I could. I’d wear jackets even if it was too warm to do so just to give the men less to look at. Then the “Good morning’s” started by two particular groups of men. I’d cross the road if I saw them and they’d simply laugh knowing they got to me, so a couple of times I stopped and stared them down. It worked, for a few mornings, until they got the guts to wave back as I stared.

One morning I had enough, I was furious so I wrote a letter of complaint to the development company. That was last Friday afternoon, and this Monday morning I was stopped by the foreman and he politely let me know that he will speak to the men and have them stop the harassment and that if it happens again to seek him out or contact the company again. He was very gentlemanly, well-spoken and non-threatening and I repeatedly thanked him. A male ally in the construction industry!

I wondered how I could complain about men simply saying, “Good morning,” and then laughing as I ignored them… how do you complain about a hunch that they are not respecting me?

After finding this website and global movement, I was given the confidence and words to use to strongly construct a good letter. I had obviously done it though, and I hope my morning walks to the station can be enjoyable once more! I will let you know how it all goes.

– Anonymous

Location: Sydney, Australia

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

15 Responses to “A male ally in the construction industry!”

  1. big trucker says:

    Good morning? Now being polite is her ass ment?

  2. ninyabruja says:

    “Good morning” is innocuous, leering at a woman as though she were nothing more than her vulva isn’t.

  3. @big trucker, a “good morning” that isn’t accompanied by leering or other body language that may feel threatening to a woman isn’t harassment

  4. Rick says:

    So I guess we can’t even be polite and get away with being friendly to a woman?

    Where will it stop? Must we avert our eyes when a woman approaches where we are standing? Should we get prostate on the ground and feel honored by her presence?

    Let’s just keep ratcheting civilization downward…

  5. @Rick. I hope the writer of the post will come on to respond. I have a feeling that the men were doing more than just a simple “good morning” to make her take the time to report it. as I said above, likely they were leering or doing something else to make her feel unsafe as they said “good morning.”

    I think you’re safe to say “good morning,” “hello,” or smile as long as you don’t do it in a creepy or threatening way.

    I think it’s also important to remember that 1 in 6 women is a survivor of sexual assault (mostly by men) and so it can make a woman feel a little wary of any man who pays attention to her in public. Yes, that’s NOT fair to men who aren’t assaulters or harassers. And if you are upset by that, then please consider taking action to combat sexual assault and to combat street harassment.

  6. Sara says:

    Good for you for reporting them! I used to have to walk by a crew of construction guys every morning, and they’d make me very uncomfortable with their stares and whistles… I always called my dad and talked to him on my way into the office, so I felt that I had an excuse to ignore them. I wish I’d had the guts to stare them down or report them as you did!

  7. beckieweinheimer says:

    wow all good comments. I too as a teen had to pass a construction site on my way to work. My stomach went into knots every day, getting prepared for the hey baby and whistles. To the male responses We don’t feel safe. But I agree a simple hello is fine. It’s the eyes roving our body, the lingering stare, the whistle: add all those things up and we don’t assume the male is up to just an innocent hello.

  8. snobographer says:

    @big trucker, Rick – why can’t you just let a woman pass without saying anything to her? Would it kill you? Do you say “good morning” to every man who walks by? You all know damn well the difference between being polite and being a lech.

  9. Rick says:

    Sorry, just trying to be friendly. Quaint notion, isn’t it?

    You know, “Smile, and the whole world smiles with you?” And yes, I say hello to as many people as I can, male or female, young or old. I do believe it promotes civility and neighborliness.

    Sometimes, you can see a person’s face light up when you say “Good morning,” with a smile. Maybe something was troubling them, and my hello helped them in some way.

    Sorry to have upset you.

  10. Val says:

    LOL at the trolls coming in and mansplaining to everyone that our life experiences are invalid. Listen, Dick and big fucker – this is supposed to be a safe space for women to vent, and coming in with smug, dismissive attitudes when a point of view outside of your own is presented absolutely SMACKS of privilege and narcissism.

    YES, someone saying hello can be threatening, not to say that the attention paid to the OP was – but because you’re both too blind to understand rape culture, or even the simple fact that women are forced to percieve the world differently than you, you’ll never understand that.

    In other words, GTFO. Believe it or not, we have brains and understand the difference between harassment and greeting – *and so do you,* which is why your fake concern for your “right” to engage people that might not want your attention is so inappropriate.

  11. Gabrielle says:

    Unfortunately in a lot of places, especially major cities, “hello” = “I want something from you”.

    Let’s be honest here, Rick—do you really say “good morning” and smile at MEN who walk by you?

    I’ve heard that one before. “Just being friendly.” “Just saying hi to a neighbor.” And yet they don’t extend that same “friendliness” to other men.

  12. Rick says:

    Yes, where I live, in Central Florida, and in the Panhandle, when in close proximity, strangers actually acknowledge each other in a friendly manner. This even used to happen in my home state of New York.

    Granted, if I do say hello to someone and get no response, I won’t bother with them after that. I have no concept of what being a female is like.

    These are not major metropolitan areas — they are relatively small towns, under 100,000. Perhaps that is the difference. The American South also has a reputation for hospitality.

    Not sure how I stumbled onto this site, but I saw the “For Men” tab and mistakenly assumed that men’s input was acceptable.

  13. Jen says:

    @Rick, I think there is definitely a difference between areas as you say. I used to live in the north of England in a small town and it wasn’t at all unusual to say ‘Good morning’ to a stranger whilst you were both waiting for a bus. On my walk to work I usually passed the same man going to work in the opposite direction, and after seeing each other a few times it felt silly and a little bit rude not to simply say ‘Good morning’ to each other in passing. We said this every morning – nothing bad happened, he really was just saying a friendly ‘Good morning’ and we never said anything else in passing.

    However, since moving to London even something as innocuous as good morning puts me on edge because of the high amount of harassment I’ve experienced from men in the street, and the unwillingness of many men to take no for an answer when they then try to extend the conversation into territory way beyond simple politeness. That’s really upsetting to me considering the atmosphere of the place where I grew up.

    So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that no, ‘Good morning’ doesn’t always have extra connotations, but unfortunately if you’re on your guard most of the time due to the idiocy of a handful of other men, some women will come across as rude when the rare, genuinely friendly man tries to say hi. I reckon that general distrust is one of the most depressing aspects of street harassment, and obviously one of the reasons why there are things like a ‘For men’ tab on this site: it’s not fair that perfectly nice guys get tarred with the same brush as harassers, and this is the fault of the men who harass, no one else.

  14. Gabrielle says:

    Well put, Jen.

  15. Amelia says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Anonymous. I live in Auckland, New Zealand & have also only rarely experienced anything worse than the leering/staring “good morning” forms of street harassment – but I really understand the anxiety that it creates. I generally feel extra anxious when walking past construction workers because of past experiences (when I was at high school I would sometimes also cross over to the other side of the street to avoid certain construction sites).

    Most builders in New Zealand today know that sexual harassment is against their company policy, and most respect this. The ones that don’t have ‘dialed down’ their harassment into a less obvious form: the staring/leering & “good mornings” that they aim only at women.

    Kudos to you for complaining about it, and kudos to the foreman for understanding & caring.

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