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It’s raining cats & dogs and here I am standing on the El platform waiting for my train to arrive. A train pulls in on the opposite side of the platform, ” Oh c’mon!” I sigh to myself hoping that my train will arrive so that I can have refuge from this heavy downpour.
As the passengers, unload from the El, a male passenger steps off and immediately begins eying me. I turn my head in the opposite direction disinterested. Unfortunately, he began to approach. Right then my stomach dropped and I got a bad vibe. His clothes are ragged and his hair uncut. He approaches me and begins caressing my arm, speaking softly.
Just then a little voice inside me says “this guy is dangerous”.
I jerk my arm away and say “Ah Un…NO!”. I start to back up slowly not taking my eyes off of him, unsure of what he will do next. As I back away, I gets even closer replacing my steps and begins to tell me to “stop moving back”.
I breathe a sigh of relief as my train pulls into the platform and dart on as soon as the door opens. I think I’m safe when I turn around and see that he followed me onto the train. The automated voice announces “Doors are Closing” and I flee out leaving him on the train.
Two SEPTA employees at the fare collections booth saw me dart off the train and asked me what happened. I informed them that there was a guy who followed me onto that train and I didn’t feel safe. One mentioned that he probably followed me because “I was very pretty”. I was insulted by this comment.
Instead of sucking my teeth and rolling my eyes, I decided to educate this employee stating that I was followed by a man whose advances were unwelcome and affirmed that no one deserves harassment!
I see a train approaching in the distance.
“What do I do now” I ask myself? I was on my way to a committee meeting, I could still call and cancel and say I couldn’t make it. But was I going to change my entire life because of this encounter? Would I stop catching public transportation altogether? What if that creepy guy was a the next stop waiting to get on and continue to harass me?
I decided to take a stand and got on the train. If that guy was waiting for me at the next platform or any thereafter, I was going to stand wedged between the platform and train, announcing as loudly as I could that this man is a stalker and this train isn’t safe until he gets off.
Thankfully I made it to my destination safely! However, after that experience and other street harassment experiences in the past, I admit I don’t feel safe. I’m going to enroll into some self-defense classes, learning how to protect myself when words don’t work.
I was walking down Cecil B Moore and a man in a red car started verbally harassing me at a red light as I waited to cross the street. He kept shouting “hey cutie” “hey girl”. I took a photo of him and he covered his face and said, “go ahead and take my picture, I’ll take yours too!” and pulled out his phone and took a photo of me. I screamed “I don’t care if you take my photo, YOU are harassing ME, so go find yourself on Hollaback and leave me alone!” I felt unsafe and walked down a side street
At the CVS on Market & 10th, a man in an older gentleman in a wheelchair passed by me and told me that I looked very nice. Okay. His remark sounded respectful, wasn’t gross or sexual. I’ll take the compliment.
I went down another aisle, and was comparing hair dyes. Nearly all of the products around me were marketed for women. He came down this aisle, and I assumed he was just moving slowly, or having to maneuver his chair through a narrow aisle.
I continue comparing dyes, and a minute or two goes by. It finally dawns on me that he’s still there, near me. I look over to see if I’m blocking his way or something, and he’s using his vantage point to try to look squarely up my dress.
A man rode his bike by and yelled “hey lady how you doing today?” I ignored him so he rode back around again and yelled “sexy”. I continued to ignore him so he rode around once again and yelled “work it baby!!!!” Finally he rode off for good.
A friend and I were walking to dinner. As were walking to dinner, we unfortunately had to split a group of men taking up the sidewalk who, of course had to stop their conversation and make several comments to us, about our bodies, how “sexy” we looked, whole lot of “damn”s and “oh baby”s. I could tell she was uncomfortable, and being very tiny I can understand how she might feel very intimidated. As we continued to the restaurant, we discussed how these types of experiences affect us. I told her that I had recently started yelling back at guys who do this to me on the street. Her fear was that something worse would happen, specifically that the harassers would become angry and physically attack us, rape us, shoot us, stab us, etc.
I can understand this fear, and the time when I was followed for 3 blocks, at 2am, when I was by myself on an otherwise empty street, it would not have been wise to turn around and yell at the guy to F*$% off and leave me alone. It would have been more dangerous. As we were leaving the restaurant and returning home, another situation presented itself. A man walking the opposite way on the sidewalk physically grabbed my arm and asked me if I had plans and wanted to hang out with him tonight. Looking to show her that she doesn’t have to be afraid, I pulled my arm away and yelled in his face that I want nothing to do with him and that he better not dare touch me again (there may have been some expletives in there for reinforcement). He tucked his tail between his legs and took off. My friend was stunned, saying she had never seen me behave like that.
I wanted to share this story in order to promote courage. Courage to stand up for yourself and yell back. Let these men know that you will not take this abuse. Again, listen to your instincts and if you feel you are in an unsafe environment it might be safer for you to keep walking. But maybe you could call someone on your phone, record the incident on your phone, or call the police if you feel threatened. You don’t have to feel powerless against this. You have a voice!
I was at the family thrift store and had to use the bathroom. The store did not have a public restroom so i had to use the one at the bar down the street. After i used it i was walking back to the store. A bunch of trashmen honked at me but i couldn’t get a number to call their company to report the harassment. The next car, a white one honked and the white trash in the passenger side hung out his window and said “hey baby!” I took a picture of the car in hopes of getting a license plate number but only got the one attached. It was bright out but you can see the red tail lights as he stopped at a redlight.
I was walking down a quiet part of the neighborhood, I walk past a construction type truck , a guy that had to be in his 50s or 60s said to me as I walked past “hey little girl” while staring hard at me
Coming out of an alley in Old city, I began to make my way down 3rd Street. A man was collecting garbage. I hear, “Hey, beautiful. Hey beautiful. Hey, hey beautiful. Hey gorgeous! Look over here, gorgeous.”
I didn’t look him in the eye, and kept on walking, pretending not to hear him.
A group of all male religious demonstrators with megaphones were enlightening all of us within earshot about how abortion is a sin, and a white conspiracy to brainwash us into committing genocide against our “babies” (zygotes).
As an indigenous woman (“Indian” in their shout-out to our people), I’ve got a lot of distrust of white policymakers, and a lot of anger about genocide (‘sup contemporary blood quantum laws).
But just trying to walk down the street, I don’t need to hear a group of men telling me that I shouldn’t exercise my right to choose, that I’m a race traitor if I don’t agree to be a heterosexual baby factory, or that my feeble girlmind only believes in the right to choose because I’ve been tricked.
The icing on the cake was getting catcalled half a block from the demonstration.
I was in the magazine section of Barnes and Noble with a friend, when suddenly my friend burst out laughing. He couldn’t speak from laughing so hard. I tried to get him to tell me what was so funny, and he gestured to an old man standing near us. The man had cut a hole in his pocket, and the tip of his penis was sticking out of it. There was no mistaking it. I screamed and the man became flustered, closed his long coat, and immediately left.