Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Four Times In One Day!

I recently moved from the quiet subarbs where catcalls and other forms of sexual harrassment occurred maybe once every 2-3 years to the big city of San Francisco where it happens 2 out of 3 times I leave the house.

First, Iwould like to thank you for the article in the SF Chronicle today. It made me feel better about the whole situation to know that there are a group of women, also victims of this, that band together to help support each other. Coming from a small city where I was unaccusomted to this unwanted attention, I was quickly overwhelmed and very depressed after moving. I felt dirty, helpless, scared, and as if I had lost my independence. I would not be able to leave my house without being harassed in some way or another by men unless I was in the company of a man. I was angry and upset that in this day and age a grown woman like myself would not be able to go out alone or with girlfriends and not be given unwanted attention. I quickly became depressed and refused to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. I have since grown more accustomed to city-life and the article today in the paper gave me comfort to know that I was not alone and that we can stand up for ourselves in some way through this website. Here are my harassement stories. 4 times in one day is ridiculous!

I was on the bus seated near the front for safety when an elderly man suddenly got on and stood extremely close to me and just stood there leeringat me. I was very uncomfortable. This endured for what felt like an eternity but he eventually went away. I was upset but not too flustered.

I got off the bus to purchase groceries and while standing outside picking fruit in this middle class neighborhood (Irving Street SF), another elderlyman stepped up behind me so close that I could feel his breath on my neckand began rubbing my back! "Get away from me!! Dont touch me!!" I yelled and quickly stepped away. In what I percieve as an attempt to mock me, he reached out several times in an attempt to touch me again! I quickly began walking away. What followed were racist remarks from him. I was angry after this and felt helpless. I wished that I had pushed him or slapped his hands away but I presume that would be against the law and I could potentially be arrested for such actions. I was quite shaken after this and hated myself for having to move to this city.

My next errand this day was to go down to Civic Center. As I was stepping out of the Muni/Bart station, a man walking towards me grabbed my upper armas I passed him and gave it a firm squeeze. Then he leered at me with a peverted expression! It happened so fast I had no time to react. By the time the event registered and I turned around to even see what had happened he was at least 40 feet away and leering at me. I was on the verge of tears. I felt dirty and violated yet there was nothing I could do about it. I felt so helpless. I refused to cry so I continued on my way.

Less than 5 minutes later I passed another man on the street and he looked me up and down and said "Heeeey" It is difficult to describe but even the way he said it was peverted and believe me when I say I was not overly sensitive at this point and mistaking a friendly hello for harssment. This man looked at me as if he was undressing me with his eyes. At this point, I could take it no more and broke down on the streets of downtown to cry. I felt so awful inside and incredibly overwhelmed by the 4 harassments I had endured.

It is sad that in this day and age, things like this should still happen in modern day society.I read in the paper that many men criticize hollaback.com as they say it is just a way of communicating and innocent compliments may be seen as harassment, well I disagree. They do not know how it feels to be a victim of this.

Furthermore, there is a clear difference between an innocent compliment and harssment. Once at San Francisco Shopping Mall, a man approached me and said "I hope this does not alarm you but I just would like to tell you that you are beautiful." and then he walked away. He did not invade my personal space, did not attempt to touch me, and did not look at me in a peverted way. It was kind. I do believe there is a difference.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It feels good that there is a place where I can tell others about this.

Julia from San Francisco, CA

9 Comments:

At 4:53 PM, Blogger meesh said...

Wow. Thank you for that amazing post. I agree with you: I know how I feel when I've been harrassed and I know how it feels to receive a compliment. If I feel violated, or attacked in some way, then it was NOT a compliment.
I hope your time in the city improves. San Francisco is an amazing place and I hope you get to experience some of that as well.

 
At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

After reading these stories, especially the one posted by Julia, I feel a much broader understanding and compasion for women than I did before. For some of us men, myself NOT included, the line in the sand may seam unclear. But that's not the case for most of us [men] myself INCLUDED. When I first read about "Holla Back" in the SF Chronicle, my reaction was mixed as much as it was reserved. I knew men said inappropriate things to women all the time. I never have because of the virtues I learned from having good parents. Sometimes these comments I heard about either while they happened or after the fact, I thought were funny. However those were the mild ones. The ones that did not involve invading personal space, or touching. Simply comments. Notice I said 'sometimes'. Women are tough skinned, more than we credit them with, but having to endure what I read about here, is enough to expand my respect for women beyond the point of admiration. Those feelings described by Julia are as understanable as they are logical. As a man, I felt the same way while reading her story from her persective. In short: I would have felt exactly the same way if I were in her shoes. And I am not a "fem" guy by any means. With the exception of NOT being a Football fan I am about as normal as any other decent guy who doesn't inappropriately harass women.
However before I conclude this comment I must stand up on behalf of the honorable members of my [male] gender and point out to the women who may read this that if men didn't "harass" women most of us would not be here. Of course "harass" in this context is only meant to describe us men 'hitting' on women in the traditional, non-threating, respectful sort of way.
Thank you to whomever created the Holla back sites. This is an excellent barometer for men to use when, or if, they wonder what is and is not appropriate. Or to determine why it is that most of the women they come into contact with tell them to 'fuck off'.
To all the women who bet harassed in the wrong way, please remember: we're not all like that.

 
At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Tracy said...

You're not alone, thank you for sharing :)

 
At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

Chris:

I understand that not all men are like that, but all women do have to deal with men like that.

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger Robyn said...

I really appreciate your post. I am moving to San Francisco in a month and have been thinking about the difficulties I might run into being an independent 22yr old woman. I HATE the fact that harassment is something I will have to deal with (I come from a small town and virtually never had to deal with it growing up), but reading stories like yours really helps me because if it happens, I know I am not alone.

 
At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, four times in one day. That really sucks. I am sorry for you. Tomorrow, maybe try a different dress.

 
At 12:29 AM, Blogger Ancrene Wiseass said...

Anonymous, I may just be troll feeding here, but dammit, I'm going to say this anyway:

BEING SEXUALLY HARASSED OR ASSAULTED HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT THE WOMAN IS WEARING.

I have been harassed while wearing a pair of baggy overalls. I have been harassed while wearing an overcoat that covered me from neck to ankle. It doesn't matter. Because this kind of behavior has nothing to do with what the women in question look or dress like and everything to do with men who want to feel more powerful by bullying women who have the audacity to act like independent people going about their business in public.

And, hey, how about this: instead of telling women to dress differently, why not tell men to STOP ACTING LIKE JACKASSES?

 
At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

look, what you wear has an impact on us animals. You think the civilized brain can control everything within a heartbeat. Well, it can't if it's never learned. You act as if all men have learned. They haven't. You can bitch about it all day, but the fact is, until a person has learned the hurt they do to others, they'll never change.

What you wear does have an impact on those who haven't learned. It's a fact of life. Get used to it or make it your personal mission in life to give some real learning to these animals. You'll make a difference in, what, maybe 20 - 50 men in your lifetime?

Hmmmm. Life sucks in many different ways lady. Many different ways.

 
At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mean no disrespect but you are making yourself a victim here? Don't let others control how you feel. Stand up for yourself. If somebody touches you make noise and call 911 on your cell phone . LOUDLY. If old men harass you be firm and say loudly YOU NEED TO BACK OFF. It sounds very much as though you are making yourself a victim here. Again, don't let others control how you feel. Obviously this would be upsetting ( I'm a man ) but it's your life ( they are the pathetic ones ) you need to stand up for yourself and start getting vocal because if I saw a woman be harassed I would get involved.

 

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