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Street Harassment, how do you deal?


yadz

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Me. This was me. So many times in my life, I felt obligated to give creepy, over-imposing boys (and later, men) my attention, even though they did nothing to deserve it and it made me feel so powerless and worthless.

 

Thank god I've gotten over that. I still struggle with it, but there are more victories to count than losses. The victories help me gain momentum.

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From a distance, I tend to ignore any cat-calls, honks or comments. I usually have my headphones firmly planted in my ears when I'm out for a run, so unless someone is in my face, I usually have them drowned out by angry music. Anyone who gets close to me, though, is usually met with Angry Bitch Mode (as my friends like to call it). I've been approached when I'm out for a run before, and I tend to go into fight mode instead of flight mode. It usually scares the creeps off when stare them down and loudly ask them what the fuck they want.

 

I do love the above-linked blog post as well. I used to be that girl, years ago. Now I'm just a loud-mouthed bitch.

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Update: Since I started this thread, I've moved to a new city, a much more yuppy city (I was kinda living in the hood before). When I go out I don't get the level of harassment that I did in the hood, but I have gotten guys honking and yelling out of the windows of cars driving by. They don't slow down or anything though, so I guess they're just... yelling for the sheer joy of being a douche-nozzle? Just, spraying their douche-juice all over the street for anyone to hear. It's still annoying, but I feel much less threatened, which is good because pepper spray is illegal here (UK). 

 

In reading all the responses, it's pretty obvious that this isn't a person-to-person problem, this is a major societal epidemic. I guess what's really going to be required is a major overhaul of the mindset of this subculture of men, the douches. 

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^That blog post is great.  

 

I was in the library last week.  Standing in a corner, nose in a book, head down, reading.  This guy, approximately my age, approaches me and says, "Excuse me, can I ask you a question?".  Giving him the benefit of doubt (maybe he wants directions the bathroom, or to know what section I got my book from, etc...) I say, "sure...".  Then he proceeds to ask me if I'm European, how long I've lived in the US, what do I do here.  "No. Less than a year. I work. [puts head back into book after each response, but guy isn't taking the hint]"  Enough was enough, and with this thread in mind I answered his next question with "You know, I'd really prefer to be left alone." Firm and direct.  (Good job me!).  To which he answered, "wha?"...haha... and then I reapeated it sloooowly, and he quickly slinked away.  

 

The ridiculous thing is that I felt a bit bad about it... until reading the above blog post which is spot on:

 

"...the way she has been socialized to be polite, to be civil, to not be "such a bitch"....no matter how much of a Douchasauras Rex HE is being about not picking up the subtle clues..."

 

That's right, HE was being the douche.  And I shouldn't feel bad one bit for having to directly tell him his intrusion was unwelcome.  From now on, I am not going to put up with this kind of bullshit.

 

Right. On. And I'm glad he got the message loud and clear and wasn't a douche about it. I hate it when guys get all offended when you say firmly, "leave me alone".

 

 

Update: Since I started this thread, I've moved to a new city, a much more yuppy city (I was kinda living in the hood before). When I go out I don't get the level of harassment that I did in the hood, but I have gotten guys honking and yelling out of the windows of cars driving by. They don't slow down or anything though, so I guess they're just... yelling for the sheer joy of being a douche-nozzle? Just, spraying their douche-juice all over the street for anyone to hear. It's still annoying, but I feel much less threatened, which is good because pepper spray is illegal here (UK). 

 

In reading all the responses, it's pretty obvious that this isn't a person-to-person problem, this is a major societal epidemic. I guess what's really going to be required is a major overhaul of the mindset of this subculture of men, the douches. 

 

This is a huge issue for women everywhere. Warning, feminist rant ahead! It's just another way for men to belittle us or make us self conscious. It's about control and domination, and that's why when a woman says, "no!" very loudly, men get upset. Not to make too big of a jump, but it's kind of a gateway into rape. It is harassment, it is gaining some kind of enjoyment out of someone else without their consent. It's obviously not the same as rape (and I don't want anyone to think I'm downplaying how horrific rape is). 

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Now that I'm over 40 I don't really have to worry about this anymore because it hardly ever happens.  Or maybe the fact that I live somewhere else makes a difference.

 

But when I was young I ignored them completely, wore headphones, etc.

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I'm 21 and work graveyards on a major street, and I hardly get harassed. I think its because I carry weapons and know how to defend myself and have had to, I kind of give off a "don't fuck with me" vibe. I know my rights and will tell anyone that is aggressive towards me that I will stand my ground and take them down like they deserve. My dad taught me that if a man assaults a women he can expect to get his ass kicked by her.

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that thread necro...

 

i dont get "harassed" often either, but i do get approached. mostly because im doing weird things you dont normally see girls doing in public like headstands and jumping on things. so its hard to have a "fuck you" attitude ready whenever someone comes up to me. i end up talking to a lot of people, but ive never felt like a guy was trying to hit on me in that situation. guess ive just been lucky?

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Catcalling and honking and the like actually doesn't bother me so much (but harassment or any kind of a threat is different, obviously!) but with catcalling, if you think about it, it's pretty cowardly, right? I mean, they're making stupid noises from a distance, and then they're running away, basically lol. Like, they don't even have the guts to stick around! They know they shouldn't be doing it, and they know it's rude, so off they go as fast as their little legs/wheels can carry them.

 

Ok then. I'll just get on with my life. 

 

Lee Evans puts it pretty well on the catcalling front. Makes me laugh. :P

 

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This was a very depressing thread to read. Sexism is rampant in our society and catcalling and street harassment is just one of many forms.  I was a little baffled that a few people take certain types of comments or behaviors as compliments, although I suppose in a certain way I can kinda see where someone might get that?  I personally wouldn't think it's a compliment, though. It's harassment and belittling.  It's usually done because society still teaches men that they are entitled to treat women like sex objects, which are obviously there for their enjoyment.  And if you say something back sometimes guys get really angry, because you are denying them their privileged.  Messed up.

 

I've only been catcalled once.  I'm not the type men tend to prefer, thankfully.  But it was the middle of the night in a strange city and I was alone.  Freaked me out.  I just ignored him and kept walking and that was the end of it, but still, I found it highly insulting and I really wanted to break his jaw just for his audacity to think he had a right to make comments to someone he didn't know just because a female walked by.  And if I wasn't alone in a strange city, blocks from my hotel, I may have said something snotty back to him.

 

I am very much supportive of the group running and self defense classes.  While I do NOT think it's the job of women to "handle" this crap, it's the unfortunate reality that it is better to be prepared than not.  I also really encourage women to talk to men in their lives about this sort of thing.  It's important for men to not only not harass women but stand up to other men that do and let them know this type of bs is not okay.

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Well, I have a fairly simple solution, one that may or may not agree with some folks here. No, this isn't a political thing, but some people are pretty sensitive about the issue so... fair warning. Just keep in mind that this is what works for me, I've no qualms with it, and I've yet to receive any kind of complaint.

 

I don't jog or anything, but I do go biking. In fairly isolated country roads, nonetheless. But after having a dead body dumped in a nearby swamp and a rash of violent break-ins in rural areas like where I live, I figured why take chances -- and I carry my gun when I bike.

 

No, I don't have a concealed carry permit, but open-carry (having your gun on you where it is open for all to see, not covered by a t-shirt, jacket, or in a purse, etc) is very much legal in my state for anyone over 18. I carry a 9mm Ruger, at the small of my back. Just in case. I've never had to use it, never had occasion to draw it, and I fervently hope I will never have to. But sad fact is, isolated country roads are great places for snatch-and-grabs and I don't want to make myself look like an appealing and defenseless target.

 

Personally, I think this is a very good solution to street harassment, but you must check your local laws first. Major cities think they're countries in themselves and may not allow open-carry. And you must practice regularly with the thing so you don't hurt someone or yourself. No compromise, no negotiation on that one, folks. It MUST BE DONE. This may seem like a tall order just to cut down on cat-calls, but you can never work too hard for your own safety. And any asshole following you or threatening to gang-rape you will have to think twice when they see you're carrying a firearm. Some might even have ridiculous thoughts like, "Oh god, she's got a gun! If I throw cat-calls at her, she'll totally try to shoot me!" Obviously this isn't true, but if that's what they think and it makes them leave you alone, who cares? It does the job, you can run in peace, and maybe some jackass just learned a little restraint that day. Good vibes all around.

 

Is open-carrying a firearm not-so-subtle intimidation? Yeah, I think that's fair to say for this situation. But it will only intimidate idiotic assholes who will follow a woman and threaten to rape her in broad daylight. Drive-by cat calling probably won't be deterred however; not much you can do about that. But anyone cruising on by, waiting to harass, threaten, intimidate and possibly do harm to a woman they find will probably not like the fact that their lithesome prey is packing heat.

 

And I should like to add that you don't even have to carry a real gun for this to work. Go to a toy store and get an air soft gun, the kind that shoot little plastic BB's smaller than a pea. Get a cheap holster, stick your toy gun in it (make sure the orange tip is concealed, that'll blow your image) and jog away. Easy peasy, no worries, no mess and if owning a gun doesn't align with your personal beliefs, this is a very simple bit of illusion that can cause no harm and is lightweight for ease of jogging/running. This does depends on what your beliefs are. Don't want to get a gun? Don't have to -- just make gawking loudmouth jackwagons think you do. All ideologies are kept safe and sound, and you get your cardio time in relative peace.

 

Don't want to use even the image of carrying a gun? Well... I can't really help you there. :\ Run somewhere else, I guess. Or strap a katana to your back.

 

 

 

And uh, folks.... I know this idea may really grate on some of you and some may immediately want to disprove everything I've said here but keep in mind: it's just one suggestion among many. Some folks may be totally comfortable with it and others violently opposed. I just saw that this idea hadn't been put forth yet and figured it was worth mentioning. I'm just a regular person, contributing to a compilation of solutions for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations and from around the world. I cannot control who sees this, I'm just trying to help how I can.

 

So um. Please don't kill me for suggesting this.

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Around here, the suggestion for cyclists and runners is to carry around pepper spray, and the other day I was at the running store where they were selling easy to carry and use for runners specifically. Since it's starting to get darker, I may make the purchase even if I loathe having to carry it around on my runs. :/

 

When I get catcalled, I don't really usually realize it until a few seconds after the fact, so I guess my approach is to ignore them/pretend like I didn't hear them? Not sure if that even counts but it might come across as that. Though when they're not shouting from a car and doing it from the street (if I hear one more guy telling me that I should smile, I may scream... not literally, more internally, but still) and I KNOW it's happening when it's happening... I guess it's still ignoring them. I like to think that acknowledgement is all they want (bad attention is good attention or something), but idk if this is even the best approach...

 

Sometimes I ball up my fists. I don't know if they notice, but it makes me feel better knowing that if they touch me, I'm already ready to clock them.

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I just bought a beauty!  But, I live in NY and frankly you can get arrested just for carrying a small pocket knife if you don't have some sort solid proof you use it for other stuff. Seriously, I read recently that a cop can see you just having one on you as intent to cause harm. 

2891002-triple_facepalm_by_spottedheart9

 

Yup. Seems to check out with what I said about cities considering themselves nations unto themselves.

 

I mean... a pocket-knife? SERIOUSLY?

 

I carry a pocket knife with me all the time. Literally. Since I was twelve, I think. Yeah, I even carry it onto campus and yeah, it's a lever-assist opening (so it looks super intimidating to layman because it snaps open quickly and easily). And I can't tell you how useful it is. I've used it in class even to cut paper! I've used it to cut open bags, cut off tags on my clothes, or those annoying plastic thingies the leave on your shoes. I've cut trailing thread from shirts and jeans, I've opened up boxes, used it to assemble a TV stand for my grandmother! A pocket knife is nothing more than a tool, and a useful one to have. I would hardly call it a weapon of any kind. Yeah, you could cut yourself good if you slip; maybe even someone else if you're a master of the Pocket Knife Fu. *eyeroll* But a car would be an easier weapon to use, to be quite frank.

 

And just carrying one is seen as intent to do harm?

 

God, that is just so freaking stupid, it's given me a headache. An actual headache.

 

undertaker-loses-wrestlemania-fans-cant-

 

WHY CAN'T PEOPLE BRAIN!?

 

Okay, I have to get out of here before I start breaking out the squirrel gifs.

 

Razzy out, peeps. Stay safe, stay badass.

 

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I get wolf-whistled at quite frequently, and the occasional "what's shaking, baby?". It was annoying, particularly if someone decided to stop me mid-run and gesture for me to take out my earphones just so that they could chat me up. But then, about a year ago, I was out for a run when a car pulled over next to me. It was full of guys who couldn't have been much older than me, and they asked if I was looking for a "good time". I said that I was busy and went to put my headphones back in, ready to run again, but they jumped out and tried to force me into their car. Luckily I was only a few hundred metres from home so I shook them off before they'd gotten a good hold and sprinted my way back down a dusty footpath I knew of.

 

That scared me. I live in a very good area where there's very little crime and, in general, its thought of as very safe. It was unexpected, and I realized that had I reacted a fraction of a second later, it doesn't bare to think what might've happened. From then on, I got a bit anxious so I began running into the main town where its more populated, never after dark, and wearing a baggy men's t-shirt over my sports bra. I've gotten over it, more or less, and am less overly-cautious, but still stay wary because you just have to. You can never be too careful nowadays.

 

This isn't something that women should have to put up with. I mean, all we want to do is go for a good run. Its a shame.

:(

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c2wRFnh.gif

First I just have to say, I love these bird feeders, mainly watching squirrels like this. My parents bought one, and the squirrels kept on wearing out the battery going for rides. I think they like it.

 

Back on topic. I've never had this issue, mainly because I don't work out outside. Well, scratch that. My hooping class I took for awhile sometimes had class outside if the weather was nice. Most of the time we were in a park that was behind a school building so people didn't see us. But a couple times we were in a small grassy field next to a main road. We got some looks, thought a few guys might drive off the road because they wouldn't stop looking. But no whistles, a few car honks. But I just chalked it up to the fact that you don't see a bunch of women (most of the girls in my class were 50+) on the side of the street hula hooping, so it was something different.

 

It's a shame that we can't feel safe doing something as simple as running, and that we have to take so many precautions.

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Yup. Seems to check out with what I said about cities considering themselves nations unto themselves.

 

I mean... a pocket-knife? SERIOUSLY?

 

I carry a pocket knife with me all the time. Literally. Since I was twelve, I think. Yeah, I even carry it onto campus and yeah, it's a lever-assist opening (so it looks super intimidating to layman because it snaps open quickly and easily). And I can't tell you how useful it is. I've used it in class even to cut paper! I've used it to cut open bags, cut off tags on my clothes, or those annoying plastic thingies the leave on your shoes. I've cut trailing thread from shirts and jeans, I've opened up boxes, used it to assemble a TV stand for my grandmother! A pocket knife is nothing more than a tool, and a useful one to have. I would hardly call it a weapon of any kind. Yeah, you could cut yourself good if you slip; maybe even someone else if you're a master of the Pocket Knife Fu. *eyeroll* But a car would be an easier weapon to use, to be quite frank.

 

And just carrying one is seen as intent to do harm?

 

God, that is just so freaking stupid, it's given me a headache. An actual headache.

 

 

What makes it worse was that I wasn't talking about NYC, where you can't have a blade more than 3 inches or something, I mean the state. Like legally you can carry around a 6 inch blade as long as its not double-edged, yet you can still be arrested for "intent to cause harm" depending on the cop, even if the knife itself is fine.  I usually carry a pocket knife and never had any issues but the only time I get bugged by cops is if my taillight is out, so, it's never really come up. But the potential is there, at any rate.

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I get wolf-whistled at quite frequently, and the occasional "what's shaking, baby?". It was annoying, particularly if someone decided to stop me mid-run and gesture for me to take out my earphones just so that they could chat me up. But then, about a year ago, I was out for a run when a car pulled over next to me. It was full of guys who couldn't have been much older than me, and they asked if I was looking for a "good time". I said that I was busy and went to put my headphones back in, ready to run again, but they jumped out and tried to force me into their car. Luckily I was only a few hundred metres from home so I shook them off before they'd gotten a good hold and sprinted my way back down a dusty footpath I knew of.

 

That scared me. I live in a very good area where there's very little crime and, in general, its thought of as very safe. It was unexpected, and I realized that had I reacted a fraction of a second later, it doesn't bare to think what might've happened. From then on, I got a bit anxious so I began running into the main town where its more populated, never after dark, and wearing a baggy men's t-shirt over my sports bra. I've gotten over it, more or less, and am less overly-cautious, but still stay wary because you just have to. You can never be too careful nowadays.

 

This isn't something that women should have to put up with. I mean, all we want to do is go for a good run. Its a shame.

:(

 

This makes me so sad. And scared. I'm sorry that happened to you and I think you're pretty justified for being overly-cautious.

 

But... I also think you are awesome and strong.

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I'm lucky--I go walking through a neighborhood after the sun has started going down and have never seen anybody acting suspiciously or felt at all threatened. I have also never been catcalled or harassed while trying to exercise--or ever, actually.

 

I was assaulted once, but that was by someone I'd trusted, not a random street encounter. I thought it was just harassment and I was overreacting until I talked to my psychiatrist about it. I got out of the situation physically unharmed, so my family said that it must have been my fault and wanted me to be over it by the end of the day. That has always made me feel uneasy about the thought of carrying something with me for protection--if I have to use it, how am I going to prove later that I needed to use it? Because if I use it successfully I will ideally not suffer injury. Kind of a lose-lose situation.

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That has always made me feel uneasy about the thought of carrying something with me for protection--if I have to use it, how am I going to prove later that I needed to use it? Because if I use it successfully I will ideally not suffer injury. Kind of a lose-lose situation.

 

ideally you should only break out deadly force when its life or death, so hopefully your family would realise that you didn't just shoot a guy for no reason. that being said, people who tell you any form of harassment (leading to physical harm or not) is your fault need a fair bit of sense slapped into them :( 

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I know this is a woman's thread, but I thought I'd chime in from a guy's perspective and let you know that a lot of what is described isn't isolated solely to women. When I used to run it wasn't unusual to have a car of male youngsters creep up on me and honk trying to spook me. It also wasn't unusual to get yelled at. It wasn't sexual at all, it was usually a mild form of aggression directed towards me because it was night and I was isolated and alone. It kind of pissed me off, because it's really an adolescent male display of dominance "I disrespected you and there's nothing you can do about it, because there's a bunch of us and we are driving away."

 

In contrast, there are the times that I've been in an isolated location and I've been cornered by homeless drug addicts or shady scam artists. Sometimes I paid them off, because I thought it was better then the alternative, sometimes I didn't. In these situations, I wasn't as angry as I was glad to have left the interaction without getting hurt.

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Very true about deadly force. I was thinking more about non-deadly force. I find that I worry more about getting in trouble with the law due to defending myself with non-deadly force than I worry about getting attacked. I've never had a negative encounter with law enforcement, so I guess the worry comes from attitudes I've seen and experienced. I think victim-blaming is something worth thinking about, at least a little bit, when you're planning self-defense.

 

Also a very good point about these kinds of harassment not being limited only to women. Some people will be jerks or worse no matter who you are.

 

A more realistic concern for me would probably be being jumped at the end of my jog instead of the beginning.  I feel pretty wiped out by the end and might not be able to run away--but since I really enjoy running until I'm really tired and have never felt even vaguely nervous in this neighborhood, I refuse to let myself sabotage my exercise with paranoia.

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While i appreciate you sharing your story Jedrick, there's one thing i take umbrage with:

 

 

 

It also wasn't unusual to get yelled at. It wasn't sexual at all, it was usually a mild form of aggression directed towards me because it was night and I was isolated and alone. 

 

emphasis mine. i could be wrong, but it kinda sounds like you're implying that the experiences of everyone else in this thread are incorrect when they say the harassment was sexual. which is kind of weird.... 

 

 

 

I think victim-blaming is something worth thinking about, at least a little bit, when you're planning self-defense.

 

i definitely agree. you gotta be ready to back up your story, not just to family/friends but also the police :| 

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emphasis mine. i could be wrong, but it kinda sounds like you're implying that the experiences of everyone else in this thread are incorrect when they say the harassment was sexual. which is kind of weird.... 

 

It would be very strange if I said that the content of sexual harassment wasn't sexual. I do believe that one of the underlying motivations for some sexual harassment is related to feelings of power and dominance on the part of the perpetrator and that's what I was trying to convey.

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This was a very depressing thread to read. Sexism is rampant in our society and catcalling and street harassment is just one of many forms.  I was a little baffled that a few people take certain types of comments or behaviors as compliments, although I suppose in a certain way I can kinda see where someone might get that?  I personally wouldn't think it's a compliment, though. It's harassment and belittling.  It's usually done because society still teaches men that they are entitled to treat women like sex objects, which are obviously there for their enjoyment.  And if you say something back sometimes guys get really angry, because you are denying them their privileged.  Messed up.

 

 

I am very much supportive of the group running and self defense classes.  While I do NOT think it's the job of women to "handle" this crap, it's the unfortunate reality that it is better to be prepared than not.  I also really encourage women to talk to men in their lives about this sort of thing.  It's important for men to not only not harass women but stand up to other men that do and let them know this type of bs is not okay.

 

I agree with this so much.

 

It isn't something that happens to me often but I've had some 'interesting' moments. It also has appeared to have highlighted to my boyfriend what happens to women when they go out when I've had men catcalling me - and even trying to touch me - while with him. I've had teenage boys singing about and trying to take pictures of my bum. A man touching my face as I ran past. Boys on the street saying I have a nice figure for my height and proceed to discuss the rather disgusting things they'd like to do to me. Those are the ones that stick out the most.

 

My reaction is mostly to call them out on it/ explain that it isn't appropriate or just ignore it (depending on the safety of the situation).

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