Tag Archives: Public space

Lily

Walking home from a concert in Victoria park with two friends when a man in a car followed us slowly ten minutes. After a while I politely asked him to “fuck off” because he was scaring my friend and he called me an “overreactive cow”. I’m 16

Annalise

When I was 14 I was walking to the train station with my best friend (also a female) and this man was standing on the corner checking out the woman in front of us, shouting an pleasureful “goddamn!” as she walked past. I thought he was just going to do it to her, but as me and my friend walked past he did the same thing to us. It was very creepy considering he was about 35 or so, ad my friend, very disgusted,whispered to me after we passed him “Oh my god. Should we tell somebody?” to which I replied, “nope, just erase it from your memory.” I completely accepted it at the time, but now I wished I had spoke up. Neither of us have mentioned it to anyone since.

Laura

This evening, 7.15 pm, daylight, on my way to the gym in the rain. I walk around the corner from where I live and notice a man walking quickly the opposite way on the pavement. As we pass he deliberately swings his arm towards my chest, hard, his fist hitting my breast. There’s noone nearby to witness it. Of course not, he wouldn’t have done it if there was. I shout at him as he walks on down the street. Not the most sensible thing to do but it made me feel better. We all have a right to walk down the street free from aggression, intimidation, assault and harassment. I will continue to do so. Thank you for providing a space for us to record our experiences.

Fran

When I was thirteen I was returning from a friends house one afternoon. A man who was about fifty, holding a rolled up newspaper and asked for directions. As I spoke to him I felt something brush my genitals, assuming it was the newspaper, by accident, I took a step back. The same thing happened again and this time I looked down, it was of course his hand there. He just smiled at me and I ran away full of embarrassment, shame and confusion. I never told anyone and repressed this memory. It took me by shock and surprise and anger when it resurfaced only a few years ago. I am now 47 yet I still vividly remember the emotions I had then. This is the first time I have told about this experience.

Musiclover

I’m a middle-aged heterosexual music fan. My partner and I still go to gigs and have attended our local festival, Reading. Reading is more youth-focussed than Glastonbury. Both years we’ve been, we’ve noticed groups of teen boys talking openly and derogatorily about girls in an objectifying and sexual predatory manner (how to ‘lay’ girls, girls they’ve been with, etc), from the moment you’re queuing up to get in and thereon in. This is nothing new (anyone remember Club 18-30?) but the striking thing is that the guys clearly don’t care who’s within hearing distance, including teenage girls and the older people like us, and that the way they’re talking is more casual and everyday than just bragging. Last year, there were 2 reported rapes at Reading and the authorities do try to raise awareness of festival vulnerabilities. The carefree spirit of Glastonbury lingers on after the event in other festivals and gigs and this is a wonderful thing. At the same time, more needs to be done in the media, schools, universities and other places where teenagers live their usual lives, to remind them that festivals have a dark side too.

Nadia

I was walking back to my house one day after shopping in town and my hands were full with shopping bags. I’m literally 50 yards from my house when a man walking towards me grabs and fully gropes one of my breasts before walking away. I was so shocked and with my full hands that I was incapacitated and it took me a while to regain my power of speech. The only thing I could call out after him with was “What do you think you’re doing?”. He looked back at me and replied shrugging “What?!” as if entitled.

KBM

The first time my body was objectified and I noticed it, I was 12. I had gone to try on a swimming costume with my father and I put it on, came out of the changing rooms and both men looked very uncomfortable. The man in the shop was looking up and down my undeveloped young body. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what. I am now 45. I was on my way out two days ago and a man said to me very loudly in front of a group of men: ‘I’d do it up the arse.’ I looked around and he was sniggering to his friends. A day before that I had been walking down a road and a group of middle aged men were wolf whistling and obviously trying to make me feel uncomfortable as a woman in a public place. I’m not going to talk about workplace experiences of sexism like when I was 16 and doing a summer job making sandwiches in a factory and an elderly worker there told me that I didn’t need to wear clothes under my overalls because it got to hot. Or when I was temping after university and I was told to go to a hotel for a weekend conference. Every single male member of the team hit on me that weekend. When I didn’t take any of them up and that I wasn’t interested, I was told not to come back on the Monday. They are just a couple of stories. I was out for my birthday a couple of years ago and everytime I walked past a young man he was screaming mysoginist names at like like ‘slag’ and ‘whore’, I was on a ram packed bus on the way home from work when a man walked past me called me a ‘bitch’ and punched me in the back, low down so no one could see. I have had my bum pinched at parties and on tubes. I was out after work with a colleague who, just before he got into a cab, fondled my breasts. I have been in domestically abusive relationships with controlling men who hated women. That’s like in the UK. I have had many more assaults both verbally and psychically for just trying to go about my business. I have been bullied at work by both men and women because I’m female. I can’t imagine them bullying a man who is professional. hard working and polite but for some reason, a woman like this is somehow ‘wrong’,

Hannah McCulloch

My story. I was on a night out with my friend we decided to call it a night and walked to a taxi. I had a long black dress on to my angles and no sleeves. It was tightly fitted which took confidence to wear but not too revealing. Nothing was on show. Walking down the street a group of boys walked past my friend and myself one of them hit my bum so hard my friend thought someone threw something on the floor. We both stood there in shock and no one helped me. No one stopped to see if I was okay. Me and my friend cried in the middle of the street. This is what women are up against. My heart sank. I got home and told my parents they told me to contact clubs for cctv footage but I knew the boys would get away and it’s ‘part of the drunken antics of town’ it’s not. I got undressed that night and had a huge red mark on my lower back and bum. I’ve never told anyone else about this I feel embarrassed and feel like it was my fault. All I did was walk down the street. Each time I think of this I cry. Hannah McCulloch -22 yrs

Flo

I was walking down the street in London, during my work lunch hour in my mid 20s, and a middle aged man passed the other way and just whacked me on the backside with what I realised later was a newspaper. I turned round to see who had done that and he was walking and watching me laughing and winking; and I saw the newspaper rolled up in his hand. I was very taken aback, almost speechless, but mostly completely embarrased and hoping nobody else noticed ….. I did nothing, I said nothing as I was confused as to whether it was ‘a joke’ or ‘just a guy having fun’ ; even whether I should be flattered that he ‘liked my walk’ … To this day I remember that so clearly, I carry it with me. I don’t think about it much, just when the subject comes up. I have experienced a variety of what I now call ‘inappropriate touch’ or ‘inappropriate approach’ over the years since I was about 8. I am now 56.

Elissa

A late summer evening, Friday, the sun starting to set, the air warm and pleasant. Mary and I were walking up Wilson Blvd, passing the fire station and the old elementary school. We were excited to order our favorite enchiladas and eat as much salsa and queso as we could. I was 25, a graduate student. A restaurant meal was a treat to look forward to. We planned to meet up with friends in Georgetown for a beer after dinner. As we exchanged stories about the annoyances and little victories of our day, we passed other 20-somethings headed for home after a day of work. I sensed a jogger coming up behind us, getting too close. I turned my head, and he stuck his hand between my legs, reaching beneath my skirt to stroke my underwear. I was shocked. I froze for a second, grabbed my purse tightly in case he was planning to steal it, and he took off running away from me without a glance. He looked my age from the back, slight, with dark skin and short hair, with a string backpack primly looped over both shoulders. I’m an athlete. Lacrosse, soccer, tennis. I’m a fast runner. But that night I was wearing precarious pair of kitten heels. I took off after him, but stopped after a few steps, the shoes making it impossible to chase him. I watched him run for the park and into the shadows. My friend called the police; I was too stunned. They said another woman had called in a similar report from just a few blocks away, a few minutes before. They took down my number, told me they’d call me if they were able to catch him, but not too get my hopes up. “Cases like this, we usually don’t find the perpetrator.” I had not considered that this was a run of the mill event to police officers in Arlington. They never called.