Tag Archives: following

Roo

Stalked around Sparkbrook for at least half an hour by a man with yellow teeth, beard, tracksuit bottoms. Starts by making kissy noises at me, then follows me silently from the residential roads to the main road. Can see him in shop windows as I go. As I wait to cross Highgate road he stands beside me on the pavement. I turn to him and say, “You alright there?” because I don’t want him to think I’m scared. He follows me to the garage, then back up Ladypool road. I go into Raj’s grocery store and stay for twenty minutes until he is gone.

Just Doing My Job

Part of my financial aid for university allowed me to work at a library on my college campus. I got the job as soon as I enrolled and within five a weeks a young man came up to my desk and informed me that he had seen me there several times and wanted to talk to me. I think, okay not too bad, but now that I knew he was there, I start seeing him stare at me from across the building. He wouldn’t say anything, just stare until he came up to me and then he’d compliment whatever necklace or shirt I had on, but he wouldn’t be looking at my accessories. Then he started to appear outside my gym whenever I’d finished exercising or follow me into restaurants. I told myself it was a small college town, this was bound to happen, even as he started appearing outside my classes, pacing back and forth in the hallways. My coworkers and boss started to notice he would come up to my desk and stand over it, staring down my shirt and mumbling to himself. They started to find things for me to do to stay away from him, but they asked that I report it and I thought he was just a harmless, unusual creepy, individual, perhaps with some sort of social disability or anxiety. The stress was piling up, I started taking self defense lessons, but seeing him everywhere staring and following me was eating away at my mental health. I started having nightmares, didn’t want to leave my room and was physically ill. The day I finally reported him he followed me back to my building in nearly a full tilt run, thankfully I had a friend with me who called the police, but the police told me there was nothing they could do other than if I called them when he was ogling me at work, they could tell him to stop staring. It was only after I called my father in tears, who when he called the police only then did they agree to make an incident report of him following me home. My boss and I filed the paperwork for a no contact order the next day, but it only keeps him twenty feet away from me, and he can still stare at me from across the room at work so long as he initiates no contact when I’m just trying to do my job. I keep up with my martial arts and I keep working, but I can’t wait to graduate and get away from him.

Holly

Yesterday I went to hospital (St Mary’s in Roehampton, London) for a checkup and was leered at by a guy in the waiting room when he overheard me saying I had a gynaecology appointment (like… seriously?!). After having a checkup by a fantastic doctor, which I still found humiliating due to lifelong conditioning to hate my body, I left the hospital. Just outside I was catcalled by a man inside a van. I gave him the finger and he swore at me. A few minutes later I was walking following maps on my phone home (having decided an hour walk in the sun was better than forty minutes on the bus since I felt like shit after my day so far), and my phone told me to go down an alleyway between Barnes and Mortlake, as you turn right off the main road and go towards some corner shops. I walked towards the alley in the brightly lit afternoon, in a residential area, and then noticed two young men walking towards me (both white, one with dark hair in a black tracksuit, one with red hair and jeans. I’m putting these description in in the hope that one day someone who knows these two might point them to this and they realise the effect their actions had on someone). One asked “do you smoke?” and I said no and walked away quickly, aware of how they were looking at me. It was a hot day and I was wearing a crop top, knee length skirt and a cap. They walked past the alley and I stepped inside. After a couple of metres I realised they’d backtracked and had sat at the entrance of the alleyway. I stood there, paralysed, staring at the map, assessing how much further through I’d have to go and whether I’d be able to get through before they caught up to me. I decided it wasn’t worth it, especially since I was looking at maps on my work phone and really didn’t want to get mugged. I walked back to the entrance of the narrow alley, which they were sat on either side of, and they stood up. “Where are you going”, the dark haired one barked at me. I stared at him in utter disgust and just said “home” with as much disdain as I could muster. Then I turned the corner and started crying for not making clearer how unacceptable their intimidation of me was. I couldn’t talk to my boyfriend at all for the rest of the day because my whole day felt like an attack on my womanhood. Hyperbolic, I know, and I have stopping being such an arse since then. It can just be really exhausting, living this life.

Grace

I am currently doing a project on Catcalling for the final year of my BA degree that is greatly inspired by the work of Everyday Feminism, Hollaback and similar sites. As I walked out of my university building after a productive meeting with lecturers and tutors on the direction of my work, a man smoking outside of the doors startled me by shouting “Hey Sexy” then proceeded to follow me around the corner to where my bike was parked in a gated lot. I stood at the gate with two choices, either open and risk him following me into the dark corner where no one would be able to help if he followed me in, or to turn around and confront him. I chose the latter and asked him why he felt inclined to follow me and if he studied at the university, to which he replied – ‘not really’ as he relentlessly asked for my number and for me to go out with him. I gave him my number and said that I’d love to get in touch with him and have an interview on why he thought it was acceptable to refer to me as sexy and follow me into a dark alley. He took my number and said ‘I’m going to call you and make sure you didn’t give me a fake number’, (this part of our conversation has really stuck with me as I always wonder what he would have done had I changed the number) so he called and insisted on small talk until I said I had to leave. Disgruntled, he wandered off to finish his cigarette so I was finally able to retrieve my bike, as I walked out back into the alley to join the road he had hid behind a pillar and jumped out in an effort to startle me once again as I walked past. This time I took no chances and jumped straight on my bike and have never cycled so fast in my life. In reflection the situation seems ironic considering my efforts to tackle Catcalling, however the most striking observation I have made both in my personal and academic experiences is that their are no two situations that are the same and it is so hard to produce a response when you genuinely fear for your safety. So the idea that women either enjoy being catcalled or are unaffected by it is reinforced once again in this vicious cycle. There was a point while we were speaking that I almost felt guilty for being so standoffish with him however I know that is because this world has taught me to constantly stroke the masculine ego and be the subject of their dominating gaze, this was another physical reminder that the world is built by men, for men.