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So I work in Jewelry Production. Most people would not think of Jewelry production, or jewelry at all for that matter, to be a male-dominated arena. But it is. I firmly believe because of these father and son, third and fourth generation shops that the industry hit the 1960′s and …just… stayed there. It is like working with Madmen.
Over the years I have (sadly) come to terms with the sexual remarks in a language I don’t understand (thank you google translator) and the grabbing. My boss likes to rub my shoulders and pretend to strangle me– why? I don’t know, but it is effing weird. And I do not like it.
After the first few months at this job I stopped doing my hair and stopped wearing dresses. It was not worth the tears of anxiety I would later have that day because of the disgusting things customers and coworkers would say to me. Now I come to work in jeans and a big hoodie. Have the sexual comments stopped? Nope.
Then there is that one male customer in his 50′s who always calls me “Babe”.
And that other 50 year old guy who keeps asking me for drinks, despite the fact that I say “No” every single time.
Oh and the creeper on the 4th floor who will take the elevator up to my floor just so he can walk by and stare at “My girlfriend”….. I am NOT his girlfriend… so that was news to me.
Or that one young charmer who stopped my male co-worker in the elevator and told him to “Get on that, why arn’t you already fucking that?!” … Hear that kids? I am a “that”.
And then there was the time a male customer in his 50s made jokes for weeks about how I was “banging” my boss simply because I went to a Jeweler’s Tradeshow with him. That was a fun week… luckily I don’t care what people think of me.
But this week… this week takes the cake.
Male customer (my age- late 20s) comes in and says:
“[My name], it’s my Birthday!”
“Happy Birthday!” I say with a huge smile.
“So, where’s my lap-dance?! You have to give me a lap-dance!”
“… No I do not.”
Perhaps sensing my anger, he ignores my scowl and dagger eyes, walks past me, and visits my boss.
Of course I was in a pretty irritable mood the rest of the day.
… And my boss wonders why I am not exactly “warm and bubbly” with all my customers… Yup… Just another day…
*Name kept anonymous due to the fact that this story is about my office, my source of income. I cannot risk my real name on this story.*
White man whistling and hollering at me:
“work it, you look good, yeah”
I was at a stoplight on my bike and responded “stop it” he continued and I said “that’s disgusting, stop talking to me”
I’m transporting myself home, not parading and getting fit for men to enjoy!
It felt good to look him in the eyes and tell him to stop
I took the Blue Line from the Jackson Stop in the heart of the Loop where I worked to the Harlem-Forest Park stop on the West side to meet up with a group for dinner. I was walking alone for 4 blocks. I passed a gas station where a bunch of guys were hanging out, and when they saw me, one of them got in his SUV and then followed me. He rolled his windows down and told me to get in. I said, “No, I’m fine. Thanks.” He continued to follow me in his car for a block, and then moved on when an 18-wheeler honked its horn. That truck driver winked at me, followed for a bit, and then moved on too. There are no public places to escape to on Harlem. I just kept walking past car repair shops and storage garages until I hit Roosevelt.
I was on my way home after a long walk (during which I experienced no harassment from anyone) when I passed a guy heading the opposite direction. I didn’t make eye contact with him, which is an awful habit I picked up while walking alone because many guys seem to take that as an invitation to be crude, but that didn’t matter. As we came up level with each other he muttered, “Hey, baby,” as if we were already in bed together. I scowled and kept walking, and he added the cherry on top by making kissy noises at my back.
This guy was average height and build, but I’m 5′ 4″, 110 lbs. If he or any cat-caller wants to hurt me, it wouldn’t be difficult.
While waiting for the North Ave bus going west, an older gentleman reeking of liquor was slowly pushing a cart down the sidewalk heading west asking people for change, while a biker came down the sidewalk going east. To avoid collision, the older gentleman moved over closer to the wall, and me, putting me in a position where I felt stuck between him and his cart and the building behind me (too close for comfort). He was asking me a question over and over, but it was mumbled and slurred and hard to decipher. So I told him “I’m sorry, I can’t hear what you’re asking.” When he didn’t walk away and continued staring and asking his question, I tried to change the subject in attempt to move him along, commenting that he might want to get home so he could put the chicken in his cart in the fridge. After repeating his question multiple times I finally deciphered what he was saying. He was telling me, “I’m a virgin. Will you please take my virginity from me?” So I immediately told him “No, and you’re being inappropriate right now.” And when he didn’t continue walking, I told him, “I’m going to move over here now (gesturing towards the two other people waiting for the bus, while trying to slide by his cart along the wall)” but he kept persisting, so finally one of the guys watching stepped between us. The older gentleman balled up his fist and started yelling at the guy who came in to help, calling him names, threatening violence, etc… It was tense, but he finally walked away (across the middle of north ave, during weekend traffic)…
Jerk took a picture of me without consent
Our Chicago site leader, Katie Davis, was interviewed by Natalie Moore about Street Harassment in Chicago as part of International Anti-Street Harassment Week. Here’s her whole article: http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/art-takes-street-harassment-women-109953
As I walk down the Western Blue Line ramp to the platform, a dude smoking decides it was a good time to say “Hey Sexy!” and touches my thigh! Excuse me?!? I yelled back, “don’t f’n touch me!” Which I’m pretty sure he was shocked that [I, a woman] said something back at him! I don’t follow your stereotypes… I don’t act a certain cause I’m a woman; you don’t harass women because you’re a certain way. Respect! Get out of my space!