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Today, I decided to walk home from work. It’s only a mile from there to my front door, and it would take me longer to get home if I decided to wait for the erratic bus that travels most of the way. My husband was in the ER this morning. I wanted to get home.
Today, it seems, harassers were also out in full force. About halfway up Old Court Road (a fairly busy road), I notice a black 4×4 pickup with tinted windows just sitting in the middle of the road. Cars are moving out of the lane to get around it. I assume it’s a disabled vehicle, but something just doesn’t seem right. Sure enough, as soon as I pass, the window rolls down and the “hey sweetheart” stuff starts.
To preface: my boss keeps the workplace arctic. Therefore, on an 80 degree day, I am wearing jeans, big stompy boots, and a long sleeved cardigan buttoned all the way up when I encounter this douchebag (not that it should matter, of course). Cars are whooshing by, so I can’t clearly make out much of what else follows, thankfully. I just keep walking, eyes ahead. He starts creeping up on me with his truck, still trying to get my attention. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. After about a block, he gives up and drives off with an angry shout. I cross the street, in case he’s only turned off on the next side street to holler some more.
I ponder what would have happened had I pulled out my camera to take a picture of his license plate. It’s always a calculated risk, when stuff like this happens. You don’t know who’s just a run of the mill harasser and who will follow you home and hurt you with more than just words. I have had cars follow me home before. I have had guys harass me until the honking of cars bottlenecked up behind them forced them to move on.
Before I can finish pondering this, a bus honks at me. A city bus. Probably the same bus driver who actually pulled over to ask for my number last month.
By the time I get to the convenience store at the corner of my street, I am near shaking with anger. So it’s the perfect time for dude #3 in his silver PT Cruiser to pull up along side me and start, again, with “hey sweetheart, can I talk to you?”
“No,” I grunt at him, and keep walking. I must look really upset, because he rolls his window back up and does a U turn.
One mile. One. simple. mile.
Lately, I’ve noticed that men have increased solicitations in my neighborhood. Tonight I went to the grocery to pick up a few essentials for the week. As I was walking toward the store, a man in a car slowed down and started making suggestive gestures. I ignored him and tried not to make eye contact while he crept around the corner trying to get my attention. Eventually, I was able to cross the street and get to the grocery store.
It wasn’t until I was done shopping and on my way back home that I realized that I could have (if I’d had my phone) taken his photo and snapped a shot of his license plate number. I did have a pen an paper, but the idea of reporting him occurred too late.
A similar situation happened last Saturday night on my way home from a friend’s house. One man walking on the street tried to get me to talk to him “just for a second.” I told him that I needed to go and he left me alone. Two blocks later, another man in a minivan slowed down and motioned for me to come closer to his car. I said “No, thank you!” and continued to walk. This man doubled around the block to try to talk to me again. I responded in a similar way and kept walking. I made it home without him seeing where I live. I still wonder what would have happened and why he circled the block.
Although these were a week apart, they occurred within one block of each other. I use my city smarts when I’m walking and I did nothing to provoke these solicitations. Now that I have the idea, I plan to start sending photos and plate info in to as many places as I can.
My boyfriend and I had just parked the car and were walking across the street to a restaurant in a fairly residential area. Then a car stopped at the stop sign in front of us, but as it was pulling away a man in the open back of this jeep yelled really loud at me “Yeah, baby” – and not in a funny Austin Powers way. A totally creepy, dehumanizing way.
My first instinct? I said “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE” as loud as I could, and (while the driver kept driving, mind you) this scrub in the back made a point to laugh as loud as he could, over-exaggerated, so I could hear it, “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA”.
My boyfriend remarked “That was awesome how you yelled at him, you sounded badass!… But it’s surprising he said anything with me next to you.” I agreed, then we spoke about how the only thing that would have upset the harasser (because they pretty much love any response you give them, whether angry/ignoring/polite) is if I had turned it around on him and joked “Don’t call my boyfriend ‘baby’!”
Implying that street harasser’s are gay seems to be the only thing that will actually insult them, but since I don’t think of being LGBTQ as a negative, it goes against my principles to use that “easy insult” against them.
We walked into the restaurant, my body calming down from fight-or-flight mode (no matter how badass my response might have been), met up with our friends and immediately forgot about that idiot.
I was extremely proud of myself. This story marks the first time I ever stood up to street harassers! I was walking alone from Johns Hopkins to Hampden. As a city girl I rarely fear going through sketchy neighborhoods. However, I began to feel nervous because there were not many people around anymore. Suddenly this group of men ahead of me start looking at me and as I pass them yell, “Hey girl come on over I don’t bite!” I yell back: “I don’t want to be sexually harassed today!” To my “astonishment”, the disgusting fucks didn’t have anything to respond with. Must be strange for the big men to face a woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. After feeling elated leaving this group, I encountered a male who said “Hey pretty can I get your number?” I yelled: “I’m not a piece of meat!” After the second attack, this diva decided it better to get herself into a cab. I don’t need these men on the street to know my actions were fine
As I was entering a store, a resident of the senior living community next door told me that he wished he was forty years younger so he could be with a woman like me. When I left the store he thanked me for letting him look at me again. Then he followed me for a block until I crossed the street. He kept asking if he could see me again.
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I was jogging up Falls Road, and as I passed [a well known pub] restaurant, a man standing outside (an employee, I think) started jogging alongside me. He didn’t say anything; he just looked at me and smirked. I tried to ignore him, and he stopped after half a block or so. I really wish I had gone inside the restaurant to report him to the management.
My friend and I were in Hampden last Saturday. We were walking down 36th street when a man with a dog walked toward us. This guy was kind of scruffy looking, medium build, had graying brown hair, looked to be in his late thirties, and was wearing a baseball cap with sunglasses. The dog was a large breed (probably to compensate for other shortcomings).
The dog was not leashed and was walking ahead of the the guy, my friend and I stopped to pet the dog and began to walk away when the guy stopped in front off us and made kissing noises at us. I felt completely shocked and disgusted. My friend and I just walked away as quickly as possible.
I’ve seen this guy around Hampden before, if I come across him again I’ll be sure to post pictures.
The weather is nice, your tires are pumped, and you’re ready to enjoy the city that is suddenly so green and inviting. Then,
the inevitable the horrible the unthinkable the most annoying thing it happens. You hear “Hey faggot!” or “Pump those legs, girl” or “You’re not fast enough for me.” Or they honk a horn and startle you (newsflash: that is dangerous!) or reach an arm out and try to cop a feel.
WE ALL DESERVE TO RIDE A BIKE IN PEACE. So let Baltimore street harassers know they need to leave bikers alone by sharing your story. Let them know you will holla back, and teach bystanders to take it more seriously. Tell your story.
And before we hate on Bmore too much, here’s an excerpt from a biking story from our sister site in Brussels, Belgium, because people love bikes and hate street harassment EVERYWHERE. Read Angelika’s story:
One day, I was on my way back from university. I was riding my bike, it was perhaps 6:30 pm. I rode on the cycleway when I noticed a group of men on the sidewalk nearby, roughly 200 metres away. Suddenly, one of them stepped on the cycleway and spread his arms. He clearly wanted to stop me from continuing my ride. I accelerated. The same thing (but with a single, drunk man) had happened to me the day before, and finally the man had stepped out of my way. But this one wouldn’t – he stood there, laughing, his friends applauding him. I had thought he might move in the last second – he didn’t. And so I bumped into him. I didn’t fall down, but I suddenly felt the anger welling up in me. This was the second time this happened to me in two days. Just because some “men” thought it was funny to stop me from cycling, just for the sake of doing it, just in order to make me feel weak, for getting the approval of their mates and showing me who was the boss on the street. I was furious. And I didn’t even think much about it – I just started yelling, loudly – and in German. I had had the experience before that I felt even weaker when I tried to argue with harassers in French, because this is not my mother tongue. So I just fell back upon my native German, which, in the first place already sounds a bit aggressive – and secondly I could say whatever I wanted to, because anyway no one would understand. So I stood there, shouting, screaming, not even thinking about what I was saying. I felt nothing but anger. First they tried to mock at me, but I concentrated on the one who had stood in my way. He yelled back, but I didn’t even listen. I just kept going. And after some time (I wouldn’t be able to say how long it took) – he stopped. He looked at me. I must have had the must furious expression one can imagine. What I saw in his eyes was – fear.
I got on my bike and rode home. Some men mumbled at me something I didn’t understand when I drove past them on my way – clearly they had heard me shouting and perhaps wanted to “punish” me for doing so. I just responded with something in German – I was too weak to engage in another confrontation. When I was in my flat I realized my hands were trembling. I sat down and called a friend to tell her what had happened. I couldn’t get myself to think about anything else for some hours, it kept coming back again and again.
I live in an apartment complex in Middle River and every time I go to put the trash and the recycling out there is this guy who watches me outside his window. Sometimes he says, “Hey pretty lady” and tries to start a conversation with me. I try to cut it short with one word answers. A few times he has said “I saw you when you came home from school.” Every time I come in contact with him, he gets creepier and creepier. I feel like he looks out his window just for me. Thank God we live in separate apartment buildings!
I’ll preface this by saying I work for an animal rescue which isn’t a glamorous job and often involves getting down and dirty to retrieve strays. So today, on my day off, I was coming home from the store with my husband when I spotted a stray dog. We pulled over to see if we could round him up. I was crouching on the sidewalk and calling to him which, as might be expected, caused my thong to show above my pants. Well Mr. Suave across the street just couldn’t let it go and commenced to comment on how I should direct my attentions away from the dog (lots of terribly unfunny “bone” jokes ) and onto him. He didn’t stop until my husband came around the corner, at which point he began commenting on my husband’s race and making insinuations about his sexuality. I could have let it go except that, as his parting blow, he ran at the dog which made him run off. Thanks a lot asshole, you just made a lot more work for me! But don’t be too proud, I’ll be back and I’ll get the dog and there is nothing you can say to stop me!