Your Stories

Several stories of harassment—Naperville, Elmhurst, and everywhere else.

I was at a bar in the burbs, with my husband. He went to go get me a beer. It was a weekend, so the bar was pretty crowded. I was standing by a pinball machine, waiting for him to get back. I was wearing a maxi dress with a halter top neckline. I’m about a size 4, and my boobs were pretty small at the time (this was before I had my twins this past year, haha). While standing there I felt a guy come up behind me and put both of his hands on the lower part of my waist. He whispered into my ear (so closely, that I could feel his lips on my ear) “I like your breasts”, and then walked off…..It all happened so fast, that I couldn’t even see his face. All I saw was the back of his head. By the looks of it, he was white, tall, built, and had blondish hair. That’s all I saw. Another incident was when I was in downtown Chicago, wearing another maxi dress, out with two of my best girlfriends. We were waiting at an el stop and a group of guys walked past us, looking at us up and down. Once they were several yards away, one of them turned around and shouted back at us, “Show us your tits!” In which I promptly shouted back, “Show us your baby dick!” His friends as well as the other people around us started laughing at him, and we stepped onto the train, which arrived almost immediately after that. The last incident I will mention was when I was at a bar in Naperville with one of my friends. We were dancing on the dance floor with these two seemingly nice guys. There was no grinding of any sort. Just doing our own dance moves near two guys who seemed friendly and polite. We kept dancing and then eventually another guy came up and tried to grind on me. I went along with it for maybe a few seconds, since it was difficult for me to get away, and I didn’t want to lose my friend who was there with me. The next thing I know, this guy starts LICKING MY NECK. LICKING. I pushed him into some other people, and we immediately left the bar. Sadly, these are not my only experiences with stuff like this. I used to be a waitress at a bar, and during the late night weekend shifts, where dinner was over and only drinks were being served, I, as well as many of the other female servers were harassed, groped, or told we’d get higher tips by men at some of our tables if we gave them our number.

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Harassed, stalked and followed on my bike for miles.

I was walking down Kimball after getting off the North Ave bus on a Tuesday, about 8:30pm. A guy on his bike rode past me, slowed down, then eventually stopped. I walked a little further before I turned around because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and have him notice me, if he hadn’t before. Just like I had suspected, he stopped so he could turn around and follow me. He then proceeded to say “Damn mami, where you heading to looking like that?” Mind you, I was wearing a red long sleeve bulls shirt from the boys section of target and black jeans with red converse– not prancing down the street in a bikini. I ignored him at first, kind of gave him a scowl and continued walking. By now, I’m at Kimball and Fullerton and he is still riding his bike next to me. I turned around and confronted him, “Can I fucking help you with something dude?” His response, “I’m just trying to figure out where you’re going looking all good like that. Just tell me your name.” Really guy? If I gave you my name, what good would that do?

Usually I’m pretty comfortable with confrontation but it was dark out, no one else was on the street, and I was alone. Also this guy seemed kind of drunk so I didn’t want him to snap on me if I pushed it too much. Instead, I picked up my phone, dialed my mom, and pretended she was the police.

“Hello, I would like to report a man that is stalking me right now. I am located at Kimball and Wrightwood, walking down the street wearing blah blah blah” you get it. I loudly pretended to be talking on the phone to the police until he finally called me a bitch and turned around and rode away. That was the best case scenario, honestly. Just in case it doesn’t work out that well in the future, I carry pepper spray, a taser, and a club on my keychain.

What can I do to get involved more directly?

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Creepy, purposefully intimidating, sidewalk-blocking with stare down—Brenda’s WTF?! story

As I was carrying two heavy bags and walking on the right side of the sidewalk, a determined man stopped, met me face to face—staring, silent and not budging—causing me to walk around him. I couldn’t think what to do in that moment that would make a point and keep me safe. There were no other women around and there were five young men up the street in front of a liquor store. When I got home, I was so angry and frustrated by my impotence in that situation.

I’ve experienced harassment in many forms my whole life, but this one was a new one on me. I like to think I know how to use a sidewalk; I give way when it seems appropriate and I take my own way when I deem it right. In the above case, I should have been granted the way. This man was clearly out to intimidate me. Had I tried to walk on, I would have run into him, and that would not have been good (for me.)

We all have so many “stories.” I know I could post one a day for a very long time. This incident just happened last night, so I thought I’d begin there.

‪#‎misogyny‬ ‪#‎hate‬ ‪‪#‎angrywomenhavegoodreasons‬

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Being groped and followed at College of DuPage library while visiting. Sophia’s story.

I don’t live downtown, I live in the suburbs – Glen Ellyn/Lombard area. I was at College of DuPage visiting the campus and my classrooms before school started that Monday. (It was a Saturday so hardly anyone was there). I was reading a poster on the library door when this guy came up right behind me – I felt something touch my butt. I wasn’t sure if he tripped and accidentally hit my butt. He was trying to read the poster too so I didn’t say anything and walked away quickly. As I looked behind me, this guy was following me down the hall. I then felt someone literally grab my butt. It happened a total of two times. I turned around and looked at this guy, completely shocked. He didn’t look at me, and just kept looking straight ahead. I walked even faster and he, too, picked up his pace and kept following me. I finally ran down the stairs and out the building to get away from this creep. I feel stupid for not saying anything at all. I was shocked and scared of what he would say or do to me. I regret not saying anything and apologize for not standing up for myself because I looked like a fool. I’m relived that this website now exists. I now carry pepper spray with me on all times. This was the first groping incident I’ve experienced but I’ve also experienced countless cat calling, whistling, stares, gestures, etc.

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Sexual harassments, death threats, and being spit on—on the Damen CTA Blue Line

A man followed me onto Damen Blue Line platform on September 11, 2014. He approached me and asked what my name was, to which I responded “Go away.” He then continued to comment on how “beautiful [my] eyes are” and how he “wishes [I] wasn’t so mean.” After telling him my father is a police officer (he is not) and to “get the fuck out of my face”, this man told me he would “shoot [me] and [my] fucking father if [I] ever spoke to [him] that way again.”

Approximately five seconds after, standing there speechless, another man approached and told him to leave me alone. The Blue Line arrived, I boarded and instantly felt the tears welling up in my eyes. I was shaking and terrified. To make matters worse, approximately three stops later this man crossed into my train car, stared at me, then spit at my feet and walked away.

As soon as I got to my stop, I flagged a cab and took it the short three block trip home. I did not want to risk him following me.

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Once again…

One October 22, 2014 at precisely 3:07pm I was, once again, the victim of street harassment. While walking from the Metra to my apartment, I was approached by a man. This man yelled: “Damn you look like a nasty little bitch. I’m fucking impressed girl. You look amazing!” I could hear this statement OVER the music blaring in my ear buds. He proceeded to follow me to the next street light, lick his lips, and wink before trudging off.

Very sadly, this is not the worst experience I’ve had with street harassment. In fact, one of the most terrifying moments of my life occurred approximately four weeks ago when I was followed home by a man who “wanted me bad” and didn’t know “why I wasn’t smiling.” That experienced ended with a breathless, sobbing phone call to my sister after I was able to run away from this man and make it safely into my apartment.

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I know. I know. I shouldn’t expect to be able to stand outside…

Ya’ know, I would have thought that, at this point, street harassment wouldn’t bother me quite as much as it did when I first moved to the city. I’ve lived in a major metropolitan city for most of my formative adult years. Chicago is 234 sq. miles and boasts a population of 2.7 million people. People with whom you eventually grow used to living side by side.

Now, I can’t give you a scientific statistic, but I would have to say that, as a female and minority, I experience some sort of harassment on a nearly daily basis. This harassment can fall anywhere in the range between small comments all the way to moments when I am afraid for my safety. It is harassment nonetheless, and I would even say that it bothers me more now, than ever. My dealings with the issue can also vary from instance to instance.

Tonight, though, tonight had to have broken a record.

Tonight I didn’t even have to leave my front steps.

Wait, can that even be called street harassment? Isn’t that porch harassment? Lawn harassment? Oh man, none of those have a good ring to them at all.

Anyway, I digress.

Tonight, in my usual late rush to make a friend’s show (which was magnificent, by the way), I decided to let my portly little French Bulldog Dottie out for a quick wiz in the front lawn before leaving her to snooze in valiantly guard the homestead for a few hours on her own.

As I waited for her initial and incorrect excitement at the possibility of a car ride to subside, I thought I heard a person from across the street speaking Vietnamese. I live in a neighborhood where a cross section of quite a few cultures live, predominantly Asian, and hearing many languages spoken on the street is not rare. A feature of my city that I quite enjoy. Tonight, however, I realized that it wasn’t a language someone was speaking, so much as it was noises he was making. Noises that were getting louder, and that were being directed toward me. Noises that a relatively young white male was yelling at me from across the street as he and his friends waited for a car. Noises that can only be described as the stereotype of “chink,” interrupted only by the interjections of his own hysterical and self-congratulatory laughter as he stared at me and waited for a reaction.

Being that I am not the most quick-witted person of all time, the only comment I could muster was a befuddled, “Oh….yeah, your ignorance is soooo f-f-fucking funny,” at which point one of the waifish girls at his side sighed and let out an exasperated and sarcastic “sorrrrryyyy,” coupled with a casual eye-roll.

The harassment, to my surprise, continued. Amid despondent taps at their phones and one member of the group repeatedly yelling the address where they were apparently waiting to be picked up, our hero had become loud enough that more of his friends began to take note of the event. I might’ve thought they’d be embarrassed or ashamed, but instead I merely began to hear churlish giggling and amused whipers of, “Oh mai gawd, she’s, like, looking right at yooooou.”

As I was short on time, I scooped up the pup, let her back inside, and grabbed my belongings. At that point, I wasn’t entirely sure I would be safe leaving my house again, so I grabbed the only means of self defense I have readily laying around my house, my u-lock.

By the time I’d reemerged, they’d departed, and I was catching a cab to my own destination.

And the thing I wish I were writing about now is the magnificence of an independent theatre doing work in a still-growing part of the city. Work that is brave and really beautiful. But instead, I couldn’t really get my mind off of the experience that preceded.

And while I may not always have the presence of mind to say the right thing when the time is upon me, I was blessed with what was a second chance that rarely ever presents itself. But as fortune would have it, the repeated yelling of the same address in a relatively large courtyard building helped me identify the correct door on which to tape the following message:

“Hi There,

I’m the lady who lives across the street. Sorry, that’s probably too vague. I’m the Asian lady at whom you, or someone who was with you, just couldn’t resist yelling out some really stereotypical chinky accents from across the street. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I think you may have even thrown in a few slurs? Bravo.

I know. I know. I shouldn’t expect to be able to stand outside, in clear view of other people coming out of their apartment and expect not to experience some kind of harassment based solely on my ethnicity and appearance, right? I mean, who do I think I am?

I realize that you thought you were being terrifically funny. You were clearly making yourselves laugh. But here’s the deal, that stuff is tried and true. It’s boring. Do you honestly think I don’t hear that accent on at least a weekly basis?

It’s just, if I can’t expect to be able to stand outside of my own home in peace and quiet, without the fear of harassment from utter strangers, then at least make ‘em original.

I can make you a list of the things I hear on the regular, if you’d like. That way, you can make your own list. An arsenal, if you will, of your own creative and, I’m sure, original, irreverent, hysterically funny material that you can then incorrectly label “satirical.”

That way, if you find yourselves out on that lonely street again, just hoping to ruin, or at least let your friends ruin another human being’s night, you can at least say you gave it a real shot, instead of using the same ole schtick. What comedian wants to get caught using another comedian’s material? It’s embarrassing. And let’s be honest, we don’t need another Louis C.K / Dane Cook controversy when there’s enough racist material to go around.

I just thought I’d give you a few friendly notes for next time, since you’re clearly in the early stages of developing your set. It’s for the good of us all, really. Because when you let your light shine brightly, you give everyone else the permission to do it, too.

I hope you all had a really great night.

Oh! And thanks for making such an effort to make such positive contributions to the community.

Keep fightin’ that good fight, guys.”

____
This story can also be found on the submitter’s blog.

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Your Stories

Nope. Not okay.

I just had a man whistle at me as I was walking past him. I stopped right in front of him, looked him in the eye and said very firmly, “That is not okay. Would you want someone to do that to your mother or your sister? That is not okay.” He was stunned for a minute, then murmured, “No, sorry. No, so sorry, sorry…”. I think he may have shrunk a bit..or maybe I just grew a little taller.

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