I stumbled onto Stop Street Harassment a bit ago, a website that chronicles not only essays about the affects of street harassment, but also horror stories of every day encounters.
The website defines street harassment as “… inappropriate, rude, scary, and insulting speech and behavior from men directed at unknown women… in public places, simply because they are female.” This includes cat-calling, whistling, sexual comments or gestures, assault, and leering.
Let’s look at some horror stories:
“Then because I didn’t say anything he screamed out, “Did you hear me?” Then he screamed, “I could just Fuck your ASS all night long.” He was screaming things to me all the way down the street until I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he was still saying stuff. He looked like a normal, good-looking nice guy, but he was so disgusting with his words. It really did shake me up.” Excerpt from here.
“He got up and proceeded to lean in and maul me with his face and hands. My fighting instincts kicked in and I stood up, pushing him away. “Get the fuck away from me!” I screamed. “Don’t fucking touch me!” “What the fuck,” he slurred. “I was trying to apologize.” “Oh, that’s how you apologize? By invading someone’s space? That’s acceptable behavior to you?” I was shouting at this point, and I really didn’t care. “Well, whatever, it was a joke,” he said, coming in again to touch me.” Excerpt from here.
“I was very shaken after this. He almost got hit by a CAR, but he kept going! We were only 13 at the time. Sure, we looked older than our age, but even if we were older, that is just not appropriate at all. It did not feel good at all. We didn’t laugh. We weren’t flattered. All of a sudden, it wasn’t funny anymore. We felt threatened and uncomfortable.” Excerpt from here.
“Whatever,” you may say. “Women appreciate the attention/are asking for it/should know its harmless and all in good fun!”
- NO ONE appreciates being dehumanized by being reduced to body parts or uses from vulgar words and gestures for another’s pure enjoyment. Saying “I wanna tap that booty!” is NOT the same level of “flattery” as saying “You an intelligent person”.
- Whether you are 13 or 103, in sweats and a hoodie or a little black dress, walking alone at night or a with your family during the day, no one is ever asking to be harassed and should never be blamed for someone else’s wrong actions.
- Street harassment is far from harmless. It is the reason I can’t walk my dog after sun down. It is the reason young girls feel like they have to both cover up their “shameful” bodies, but also keep them appealing to men. It is the reason millions of women feel uncomfortable, unsafe, threatened, and disgusted when simply walking to get their morning coffee.
- Street harassment can lead to sexual assault. If someone does not have respect for your personal space, privacy, and dignity, what’s to say they’ll have respect if you say “no” or “stop”?
I know some of you may think its funny, or harmless, or a “boys will be boys” thing to yell lewd words at people or play grab-ass on the train, but its not. It’s fucking stupid and disrespectful, bottom line.
Check out Stop Street Harassment for more stories, resources for self-defense, and ways to deter and defend against street harassment.