I’ve already dealt with several street harassers this week. I thought the bulk of my harassment was over. But nope, that was only the beginning!
When I boarded the bus to go to my studio for a workout, these boys sat near me (one of them sat next to me). I tried to ignore them but they were so obnoxious. They were making commentary about the girls walking outside, and it was tacky. (I’m sure my looks got rated by them as well.) I excused myself to move away from them when I heard what sounded like the click of a camera phone. Did these clowns just take my photo?! I heard snickering and giggling after I moved.
A few moments later, a woman boarded the bus, and the boy who I was previously sitting next to started patting on the now empty seat next to him while checking this woman out. I had had it with being quiet and had to say something.
“You do not respect women,” I said. “No respect. I saw you checking out those girls outside, I saw you checking out that woman who just boarded, and I know you took a picture of me.”
These boys denied any wrong doing. The one who took the photo claimed it was a gun application on his phone.
“My phone makes that same clicking noise when it takes photos,” I said. “You’re lying.”
Then they changed their story and saied that they were taking pictures of each other. And when it came to checking out women, first they denied it, but then they said they were “grown men and had the right to check out fat [phat?] asses.” So which was it? Either you were ogling women or you weren’t.
I started taking photos of these boys (and a video that came out too poorly to post), and they got pissed.
“Yo, this bitch is taking our picture!” they yelled. (Though only two are pictured, there were actually three of them. One was sitting on the other side and out of the camera’s range.)
I felt like a hypocrite for a moment, and yes, those boys let me know that I had no right to complain about them taking my photo when I did the same thing.
They repeated it and then the bus driver yelled at me to “stop taking pictures. You can’t take pictures on this bus!”
Since these boys were full of lies, I decided to lie back. “I erased the photos,” I said. “Let it go!” (Obviously I didn’t really erase them.)
But they refused to let it go. They started making comments about me, calling me “ugly,” “bitch,” and even calling me a “faggot.” They did running commentary about what I was doing (“Ooh, look at how she’s moving her mouth!” “Look at how she’s trembling!”) and told me to “shut up, mind your business” and “Don’t you have a book to read?” What assholes.
Then other passengers jumped in. A woman on the back of the bus yelled “Bitch, that’s my man you’re messing with. If you touch him, I’ll beat your ass!” The whole bus looked at me and laughed. I felt like a lab specimen. It was a sick feeling.
The boys finally decided to stop clowning on me, but this was one stop before I got off so it wasn’t much relief. I think the boys got off at the same stop I did, but I didn’t bother to look behind me and thank god they didn’t try to get the last word or action. I’m just upset that I didn’t get the bus number or the route number (the 30-Line buses all go the same direction to Friendship Heights, and I rarely take notice of which one I board when I do).
When I got to my studio, I wanted to cry. I was so shaken up and didn’t deserve what I went through. But since most of my friends tell me the same garbage of “You should have ignored it,” “You need to get a thicker skin,” and “Why do you always have so many problems and get into so much trouble?”, I didn’t want to say anything about it. I survived my workout and those horrible feelings had left my system, but I took the train home afterward and when I got off to transfer at Metro Center, a guy waiting to get on the train looked me up and down and said “Mmm…beautiful!” All that anger came right back and I immediately called him “Ugly!” in response.
I feel like my freedom of movement is long gone. I can’t go anywhere without some man making commentary about my looks, and when I reject them, they get aggressive. And I’ve learned the hard way that no one will jump to my defense and help me when I get into a bind with harassers. The peanut gallery will either gawk, stare, laugh or turn their heads and ignore it.
I am tired of these men and the bystanders treating me like garbage. It makes me feel so worthless.
– “Tired of Being Harassed”
Location: One of the 30-Line buses going towards Friendship Heights, 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.
[Editors note: For people paying attention to the photos posted with the stories lately, mostly they have been of African American men. This does not mean men of other races do not harass women. Men tend to harass women of their own race the most and the blog contributor who has submitted the stories w/the pics is African American.]