Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
For almost two years, I lived near the intersection of Western and Harrison. I experienced my share of street harassment and near-assault (prevented mainly by a daily mad dash from the CTA stop to my front door.) I always had my pepper spray in my hand and ready to fire into the face of an attacker. One Saturday morning I boarded the Blue Line into the city on my way to work. I put away my pepper spray after sitting down, because I tended to feel safer once I was on the train.
A man sat down across from me and tried to catch my eye. At this point, this had happened to me so many times that I hardly noticed it. Even when he started talking to me I was able to ignore it, at first. Finally, for some reason, when he said,”I like your hat,” I looked up and thanked him. Then he asked me where I’d gotten it. “It was a gift.” “Are you on your way to work?” “Yes.” Each time I had looked up to answer, I had looked into his face. When I answered “Yes,” about being on my way to work, I saw his posture had changed and that he was turned fully toward me, legs open, and penis out. We were the only two people on the car. If he was looking to assert his dominance by shocking or upsetting me, I gave him exactly the reaction that he’d hoped for. Instead of confronting him verbally or thinking of defending myself should the encounter turn even uglier, I got up and started pacing near the door of the car, shaking my head and repeating,”Nope, nope, nope,” while he sat and leered at me. At the next stop, I jumped off basically between two CTA workers. I didn’t say a word, though, and ran onto the next car, so as not to be late for work. I’ve very much regretted my reaction since then, as this encounter can only encourage this man’s behavior in the future. It was a disgusting and demeaning experience, and I wish I had known how to handle it better.
I want to share a success story!
I was biking up Cortland towards Clybourn and I saw a small group of men walk past a man/woman couple. I didn’t hear what they said to her but I did hear her say loudly “ummm…. Thanks?” She and the man she was with walked a few steps and then he turned around and faced the men who had spoken to her. He said “Hey. That’s sexual harassment. It’s not cool.” My light changed so I had to move on but it made me really happy. Thanks random dude.
This afternoon, I was taking the Red Line train down to Lakeview to meet a friend for some shopping. The car was pretty empty, so I took a seat towards the back and started reading the book I brought with me.
A couple of minutes later, I see this blinking orange light in my peripheral vision. I look over and the creep sitting across the aisle from me was taking pictures of me! He had the flash off, but the flashing orange light and the sounds made it clear what he was doing. The photo-taking was near constant — and the whole time, he had this creepy smirk on his face.
It seriously freaked me out and I just turned to face the window and covered my face with my hair. At the next stop (Wilson), I got off that car and ran to a different one. I wish I had thought to do something at the time, like call him out on it or start taking pictures of him. I joked to my friend later that I should have gotten a picture so that if I showed up killed and dismembered, they’d know who to look for.
But it’s not a joke. Making light of the situation was my way of immediately dealing with it, but now it just pisses me off. Who, exactly, takes pictures of women on the train? I’ve been verbally harassed before, but I’ve never felt quite this vulnerable — there’s some creep out there with pictures of me, doing god knows what with them.
For anyone else’s reference, this guy was late 40-50′s, blond hair past his ears, and pretty weather-hardened (read: too much booze and drugs).
I was on the Green Line when an older man sat in the seat next to me. I was listening to music and looking out the window but then I started to notice that my space was getting smaller and smaller. I turned and the guy was practically looking over my shoulder and rubbing the crotch area of his pants. I yelled at him (I don’t remember what I said, this was months ago) and I got off the train at the next stop. I’ve been cat-called and people have made many comments about my boobs or whatever and I’ve just been able to ignore it but this was the first time where I felt seriously violated. I couldn’t believe it.
Anyone else have stories of friends or partners not having your back when you’ve told them your story of street harassment? I find this particularly interesting (and alarming) and would love to hear other people’s stories regarding this issue.
There is a man that I call the “Jackson Harasser” that has been harassing women and especially teen girls at the Jackson Red Line stop since I started high school 13 years ago. Today I witnessed him trying to “talk to” a girl that looked about 17. So I walked up to them and said “excuse me miss but this man is known to harass people, are you okay?” She said she was but he started telling me the “f#ck off” and that I was the one causing trouble (he remembered me from a couple days before when he called me a “b*tch” because I ignored his “compliment” on my hair and I called him out as a creep.) I wasn’t able to snap a pic of his face in time but this pic had his build and clothing.
I am not sure if this is considered assault, but I was on the Red Line coming from Cermak. By the time the train got to Chicago, I noticed this guy staring at me from across the train. I just tried to ignore him. There was a free seat next to mine. He came over and sat down. I could feel his elbow jabbing my arm repeatedly. I tried to ignore it but it kept continuing. I looked down toward his elbow and noticed he had a large hole in his pocket. I realized that this whole time he’s been masturbating right next to me. The last time I felt that helpless and scared and angry was at 12 years old when this guy kept sliding his hands under my butt on the 147. I felt like I could not move. I finally got up and walked toward the door to get off at the next stop. He followed me, stood right in front of me and continued masturbating. When the train got to Belmont I got off, so did he. But he just moved to the next train car. It took so much for me not to bawl my eyes out because I did not want to be seen crying in public. This happened in August 2012. Till this day, I can’t think about that experience without crying and feeling angry, sad and blaming myself for something I had no control over.
I am a 24 year old graduate student and I nanny a sweet two-year old for income. Last week, after taking her to ballet class, we walked to our car. A garbage man drove across an alley and yelled things at me I couldn’t really make out. I unlocked the car and she climbed in to get in her carseat, while the garbage man parked and watched. It took the little girl a few minutes to get into her carseat because she climbs in herself and always procrastinates. The garbage man watched me the entire time. Each time I glanced back at him, he was staring into my eyes. I was scared and uncomfortable and angry. He was watching me bend over to buckle the little girl in her carseat, in full view of my back side and there was nothing I could do about it.
It upset me and I decided to share the experience on facebook. One of my male friends asked why I get so mad about things like this and that really hurt me. Why am I mad? Because I am nothing but a woman who can be stared at and harassed and cat-called at any place and any time and I just have to take it. Even if it’s a city worker. I have to walk outside my door and see a man beating off to a clothing ad in the alley right next to my door. If I say anything to any of the men who have harassed me, I might anger them and have worse happen to me. If I ignore them, I am a stuck up bitch. That’s why I’m angry and upset.