I am a 22 year old British woman and I have never really had many bad experiences in the UK – maybe the odd wolf whistle or comment but I have rarely felt intimidated.
When I moved to the south of France last year, I experienced street harassment on a regular basis. A car drove along, stopped and reversed, which was very intimidating. My friend (also British) and I were walking along the street and some men heard us speaking English and started to harass us. Then they grabbed us and as we walked faster and ignored them, they threw a glass bottle at us. We had glass thrown at us in the middle of the day once before. Luckily, it did not land too near us.
Men have gotten in my face and shouted at me. It would be expected to be groped in a night club.
Never before have I ever felt so intimidated.
When I asked people why men felt it appropriate to do this, I would hear the response that it’s cultural. We, the Brits, encourage it somehow by wearing provocative clothing. I did not wear provocative clothing for this very reason, yet it still happened and besides, that way of thinking is frankly absurd in today’s society.
Women everywhere should feel safe to walk down the street without that feeling of intimidation and the fear as you get hotter and your heart beats faster. No woman should be blamed for encouraging men to act in this way.
Location: Aix/Marseille, France