“Some guy said he would let me fart in his mouth and hold it in until I told him to let it out”

November 10, 2010

I’m glad I found this site. I feel more in control knowing there are actions I can take instead of feeling angry and helpless.

A few days prior, this was my story.

When stepping off the trolley, before my foot even hit the pavement, “Bitch nice glasses” was hollered at me. I was caught off guard and didn’t say anything, but am sure I made an angry, uncomfortable face.

When he didn’t get the response he was looking for he attempted to demand my attention by yelling, “Anyone ever do this to you?” and licked in between his fingers, motioning that he was going down on a woman. I hate that gesture, when has that ever been sexy? It’s gross and infuriates me. I flicked him off, told him he was rude and to f* off. Then he calls me a cunt cause I wasn’t excited about it. I apologized to a mother and child for swearing in front of them and the dude started at it again.

I was so angry, I called him an ignorant pig, shook my textbook at him and said I should beat him with it. He then dropped his pants and smacked his bare ass as he walked away. It made me so mad I cried in the bus stop. It happens so fast. I’m glad he left when he did.

His intention was to get a rise out of me and he was successful. The only thing worse than that feeling, is knowing the other person is getting away with it and will do it again. I’m glad to now know strategies to detour that behavior.

This isn’t the first time. I’ve been followed for blocks, crossed the street only for them to cross with me. I’ve been told my tattoo on my chest is “begging for his head to be shoved between my tits.”

“Does the carpet match the drapes?” & “Can I get your number?” are common introduction sentences.

I’ve been told all the dirty things someone would want to do to me while in a gas station. Some guy said he would let me fart in his mouth and hold it in until I told him to let it out. I didn’t even know people did that. Another guy asked me, “What I could do with 9 inches.”

Seriously? That is not something you ask/tell a stranger. It is disrespectful, disgusting and made me feel 100% uncomfortable.

I don’t dress provocatively, I rarely wear makeup. I am a 5’9″ nerd. Not someone “begging for it” (sarcasm, an outfit does not justify harassment). People would say I am nice. I’m not one to yell fuck you at a bus stop, but there I was doing it.

For someone to make another human being feel this uncomfortable and unsafe, only because they are different, is immoral.

– Anonymous

Location: Cleveland, OH

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.


Sizist homeless man

June 30, 2010

I passed a homeless man on the street, and he said to me, “That’s all right, I don’t want money from a fat girl like you.”

– anonymous

Location: Boston, MA

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.


If You Don’t Engage, You’re “Racist”

October 9, 2009

Macarthur BART station via Yelp.com

Macarthur BART station via Yelp.com

I’m a 20 year old South Asian woman living in Berkeley, CA, USA. I was riding the 18 bus to Macarthur BART station in Oakland around 8.45 at night. I was sitting near the front of the bus reading a book and listening to music. There was a black man in his 30s sitting in front of me, who turned all the way around in his seat and staring at me. I managed to ignore him for a while, but when I took one earbud out of my ear to adjust it, he took that as an invitation to tell me I had beautiful hair. I smiled very slightly but didn’t say anything and went back to my music and book.

He kept talking to me, in a raised voice so as to be heard even above my music. Finally I took my earbud out again and said very quietly, “If you don’t mind I would just like to read, thanks”.

He proceeded to get very angry and began calling me an “uppity bitch”, a “fat ho”, and a “racist Indian cunt” who thought I was “too good to talk to a black man”.

I kept my eyes down because I really didn’t want to give him any more reason to follow me off the bus and he eventually stopped cursing at me and walked to the back of the bus.

I’ve lived in Berkeley for three years now and I’ve been catcalled, whistled at, had my appearance remarked upon multiple times but this was the first time I was actually worried I was in danger. Sometimes I hate living in this area.

– anonymous

Location: Berkeley, California

[editor’s note: see this blog post for how common this man’s reaction is.]

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.


Sexist searching for a nutritious meal

August 13, 2009

I am 95 percent sure that a homeless man said either, “I need a wife to cook me a nutritious meal” or “Be my wife and cook me a nutritious meal” while looking right at me. I was walking from my office to the metro station in Washington, DC, this evening.

I noticed he said something to the man walking ahead of me too. I feel 100 percent certain that if he mentioned wanting a meal to him, he didn’t say anything that would suggest that because it was a man passing by, the man should cook him a meal the way he did with me, a woman.

Location: L Street NW and 16th Street NW, Washington, DC

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.


Horrors of Street Harassment: A Letter (Part 2)

February 12, 2009

Even going out with my boyfriend is uncomfortable. We don’t go out much, but sometimes we have obligatory things to do, like friends parties, art shows, film openings and the like. I hate them all. If we go to a party or have to go to a lounge, leers come from all sorts of men-The most bewildering are men who have their own girlfriends in their arms while they leer at others! Any bar/lounge/restaurant is uncomfortable.

On my birthday last year we went to a fancy restaurant/lounge in Malibu, and a scary, older man was leering at me for some time. I felt like a piece of braised brisket. As soon as my boyfriend left our corner to refill our drinks, the man came over and rubbed up against me even though he had plenty of room. I asked him to step away from me, and he didn’t heed my request until my boyfriend returned and told him to buzz off.

Another quasi recent time was when we went to Medieval Times-The place with the horses where you eat w/ your hands. We were waiting in the court area and a man with girlfriend in tow kept leering in my eyes, very aggressively like he was going to beat me up! These leers are not sexy. They are frightening, and are intended to be demeaning.
Later when we went in to wait for seat, the same man found me again, and continued the terror. Understand, this isn’t an innocent glance. I kept walking around my boyfriend trying to find places where my BF would block the harasser’s view, but the harasser kept moving about to keep me in his eye site.

That’s what it is. Its harassment, intended to dehumanize.

It happened at Disneyland. Once, my boyfriend and I were just being seated into the CA Screaming roller coaster, and apparently there was a group of college aged emo kids behind us in line. One of them noticed me, and bent his whole body over the railing to leer in my eyes. I turned the other way so not to make eye contact, but when I looked back the kid was still aggressively leering at me.

Flipping the bird, staring back or being verbally crass yourself doesn’t fend off the terrorists. It only provokes them.

Waiting in the ride lines at Disney is no pick nick. Last time we went, a family was behind us while we waited for space mountain; a couple teens, parents and a grampa. Throughout the whole hour wait, the grampa stood so close to me his chest and belly rubbed against my back. Every time I would change spots, or step forward he would follow, and rub against me again. He even tried to maneuver around my boyfriend to stand near me. It makes me even not want to go to Disney anymore. The leerers are so numerous, its impossible to account for each one-Each stare that makes me sink lower and lower into my shell.

Even trips, vacations-anywhere-It’s never ending. We went to visit some distant relatives in Louisiana for Christmas, and eating at places there, walking down streets of the boonies was hardly different, however less populated. Beeps at red lights, ‘hollers’, and the ever dreaded ‘leer’ remained a constant. We went to eat tiny lobsters at some Cajun seafood joint, and one man at a table beside ours kept staring at me in the eye. To what purpose, I wonder? It made me feel mortally uncomfortable the whole dinner, and he sat with 6 kids and a woman. I wanted to crawl under a rock, and never come out.

A few years ago I was at Logan Airport flying back to LA, and a scary man was glaring intensely at me for about 20 minutes, with that crude ‘I’m undressing you in my mind’ look; The type of leer you can feel like a heat ray, even if you don’t look back. ( It was the same situation as the Medieval Times episode, where I kept trying to move around and use my boyfriend’s body to block the man’s view-He kept maneuvering to keep me in his sight.)  I flipped him the bird, said ‘what are you staring at?’  It made a small scene and United nearly barred my entry onto the plane- They made me stand to the side while I cried and while the flight attended yelled at me, so every passenger who boarded could give me a dirty look.  They then had me come on the plane last after the pilot ‘OK’d’ me, but only because my boyfriend would not board-They were trying to insist he board the plane without me because I wasn’t allowed.  It was absolutely humiliating, and all because I didn’t want to be stared at like a piece of meat- Note that I didn’t start crying until I was told I wasn’t allowed on the plane for flipping the bird at another passenger. (Yes, it was wholly inappropriate for me to raise voice in a busy airport, but I stressed, hadn’t slept in 3 days and was tired of the BS and being stared at, while attempting to avoid the harasser).  This is a major reason I’ve given up-I used to ‘fight back’, but after the airport incident, I stopped.

These are only instances about street harassment, and only the ones I remember in detail without much contemplation. This doesn’t account for all the times my mother’s husband undresses me with his eyes, the number of times he’s pinched my butt or reached down my pants for a ‘thong wedgie’, or the time he grabbed my genitals.

Nor does this account for the several times I received unsolicited ‘back rubs’ and ‘butt slaps’ from managers and bosses at different jobs, then was fired for complaining. This doesn’t account for harassment and discomfort by customers and clients at different jobs, either.
This is only the fear and dehumanization I’ve experienced from complete strangers in public places.

Men:
Please stop this, so I can come out of my house, and be able to walk to the bank or the video store or the art store without fear. So maybe I can go to the garden store again, or enjoy a ride a Disney or a meal at a restaurant without wishing I had worn a burka instead of a pants suit, or shants and a t-shirt.
Thank You.


Virtual Street Harassment?

December 15, 2008
Virtual Street Harassment?

Virtual Street Harassment?

Number five on Gizmodo.com’s “10 Things You Need to Know About PlayStation Home” says “There are lots of dudes. Lots of them.” And it includes this screenshot of a male avatar saying “nice rack” to the only female avatar in the shot, who says, “thanks.”

This post would be an essay if I started analyzing that screen shot alone, so I’ll just say I think it really odd that a random guy is going to comment on a woman’s virtual breasts (that are not real – they are virtual!) and by doing so reduces even an avatar to (fake) body parts.

Also on Gizmodo, I watched two youtube video clips filmed by males playing  the recently released Sony “Home.” The site says, “In it, we see two female avatars being surrounded by male avatars doing little dances. Apparently this is happening all over the service. A lot.”

And indeed, in the video clips there are two or three female avatars surrounded by about five to seven male avatars. Some of the time the women in the first clip (i’m only going to talk about the first one for brevity’s sake) are dancing too and presumably they could leave if they were uncomfortable (I’ve never played this game) so I don’t want to say they are being victimized, especially given that this is a virtual world, but the whole situation is quite odd, as is the commentary from the videotaper. And it’s all the more disturbing/odd if it’s happening a lot.

What I think is especially striking about the dancing is how it is groups of men versus one or two women. Just like a lot of real world street harassment, the online dancing seems to be a form of male bonding or a way to prove one’s masculinity to one’s male peers. In fact, in one of the videos showing the male avatars dancing around the women, the male who was videotaping the incident at first voiced reservations about what he was seeing and passed by, but then he said, “I’m not gay,” and went back and joined the other male avatars in dancing around the female avatars.

If this is a common occurrence, how likely is it that people with female avatars will get tired of being surrounded by males and danced with and so either change into a male avatar or stop playing?

If you’re a gamer, have you ever witnessed this, done this, or been the target of it? If you answered yes to any of those questions, what happened, how did you feel, etc?  What have been the experiences of people who use female avatars?

(thanks, mark for sharing these links with me:))

One-Eyed Veil!?

October 6, 2008

According to the BBC:

“A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.”

WHAT?!!!?

In my mind there are two main arguments about veils and related items used to “protect” women. 1. A full veil can lessen sexualized harassment and treatment based on looks. 2. Women shouldn’t be the ones who have to change their lives because men won’t restrain themselves – men are the problem, not the women.

In an ideal world, we’d go with #2 and men would treat women with respect and not harass them no matter what they wear, but since that isn’t always the case, the “quick fix” (and it’s arguable whether or not these behaviors really “fix” anything) is to go with #1 and cover women up, put them on women-only public transportation, or tell them not to go out alone and not to wear “provocative” clothing or makeup.

What really upsets me is when women are made to modify their behavior in such a way that their freedom, mobility, and/or dignity are infringed upon. I have not worn a veil but I suspect it would be even harder to navigate the public sphere while wearing one that only lets me see with one eye.

And I am overwhelmed by the stupidity and hatred for women this man is demonstrating. He sees women as the problem, what with their two provocative eyes looking at those poor victimized men who are able to walk the streets without being harassed and without clothing restraints. And where’s the logic in letting women still reveal one of their two seductive eyes? Why not put have them put buckets over their heads or make them stay home all of the time?

And it’s not like Americans are so enlightened compared to Saudi Arabia. It’s pretty common for girls/women to be told to do X, Y, and Z in order to protect themselves from men instead of boys/men being told not to harass and assault women…