Got a taxi home late at night. Older taxi man asks if I ‘have a boyfriend’ and ‘if only he was 20 years younger”. I just laughed along nervously until I got home.
So I was trying to get around on a little island with practically no public transport and was forced to use taxis for some trips. One day I get a really nice guy in his late 60ies as a driver and he shows me around a bit and even organizes me a free sample of a regional drink. When I get out, he hands me his number, so I could call him for whenever I wanted to come back to my hostel. Since this is quite common there and he was very nice company, I call him up afterwards to pick me up to get home and even sit in the front seat. While we are still in an urban area everything is fine, we have smalltalk and he is as charming and grandfatherly as the whole day. Then he starts touching my arm everytime he starts to say something. I didn’t think too much of or since it is a southern country and people in general are a bit touchy. The he starts asking me all about my boyfriend, whether I missed him, whether I didn’t think of cheating in him since I was away, whether I liked the sex with him etc. and goes on touching my arm and my leg, just where my dress endes. We stop because he wants to show me a lake in the area and I am very glad to get a bit of distance between us. Than he starts pulling me near him, putting his hand on my hips and hugging me. I struggle to get away from him again. At this moment we are aprox. 30 km from the next town and there is nothing around except for cows and ducks, so, in order to get home, I basically have to get back into the car with him again. In there, he goes on touching me, takes my face in his hands and forces me to look at him at times by turning my head. Since I fight him, he keeps his hand to himself for a bit and starts talking to me about how he didn’t want to offend me, he would never want to offend such a pretty girl like me and “Believe me, if I was only a few years younger, you would never leave this Island again but stay with me”. As we are getting closer to the town my hostel was in, he again starts touching my legs and talks about how he would pick me up the next day, so I could go wherever I wanted to go (“you won’t have to pay”) and he would invite me for lunch and how we would have a great time. I couldn’t even move, because I was so scared and just kept on trying not to look it too much. Finally, we arrive at my hostel, I have to pay him for the awful drive and then I get out. But before I can escape inside, he graps my arm and tries to force me into a kiss, which I manage to get out of, just to run to my door. As it seems, people on the island already know about him and his behaviour towards female tourists but since he is old and a member of the community, he doesn’t lose bis licence.
A late Saturday night I took the last available metro. It was the opposite way, but the line being u-shaped I figured I would just walk home from the closest station to mine. It was around midnight, there wasn’t anyone around (it was a semi-residential area) and I was carrying a lot of stuff but it was summer, so I figured it would be a nice walk anyway. I walked for about 5 minutes when, coming the opposite way, a taxi noticed me. He flashed his lights and honked at me. I waved at him. Why not? He turned his car around and open the front door for me. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, my hands were full and I was tired. The driver was chatty and wanting to be polite, I engaged in the conversation. It was all nice when he stared to smell my hair. He did this repeatedly. I laughed nervously, trying to steer the conversation away from how nice he thought I smelled. Then, at a red light, he told me he was really happy in Canada and he hugged me. He didn’t try to grope or do anything else, but that was enough to scare me. I had never feared for my life more than I did at that moment. We finally got to my place and I was relieved to see that the lights were still on; my roommate was still awake. I gave the driver a $20 ( way over the value of the fare) and bolted out of the taxi as fast as I could. I haven’t taken a taxi alone at night since then.
A little background: I’m a 21 year old female, I’m proficient at karate and am usually very confident in myself and pretty unflappable. I had been in London tonight meeting a friend for dinner, and was on a late train home to my small village and I arrived at my station at about midnight. I regularly walk to and from the station in the day, and sometimes at night too and feel completely safe, but in the last month I’ve been leered at or followed by a group of men in their 20s that I haven’t seen before, on a regular basis during the day time, surrounded by people, in the centre of my village. I’ve also and noticed them walking down the road I live on when driving to and from home. These men sometimes deliberately spread across the road to slow me and leer at me while in my car, and other times make comments as I walk past on the street (even when with family members or friends). I decided to spend the extra money on a cab from the station because I felt unsafe walking home for once, and while in the queue for the cab a group of men (of mixed age, between 30-50 yrs old) walked up to get a cab too. There were 3 other people waiting in the queue with me, 2 women, one of whom was with her male partner, and after complaining about the length of the queue the group of men decided that it wasn’t so bad because there was ‘some talent in the queue so it wasn’t a total loss’. It felt like it was some sort of ‘lad’ thing, to signal to the others that they were part of the group. Luckily as they were walking up to us our cabs arrived. Perhaps more than the men who had been leering at me, that I had made a concerted effort to avoid, I was most disgusted by the group of older men, who I might have expected a little more decency from, that had decided to objectify me and the other women in the queue rather than show any kind of respect, and the option that I had thought would make me feel more secure late at night left me feeling quite intimidated. At the time what felt like the safest option was to keep my head down and get out of there asap. As soon as I got in the cab I wished I’d called them out on their ridiculous objectification, asked why they thought it was acceptable to reduce women that they’d just happened across by chance into sexual objects to be leered at in somewhere that should be a safe place (as if it should be the case that one place should be freer from this kind of nonsense than another). What also struck me was that neither of the other women (both at least 10 yrs older than me) had moved to stand up for themselves. They too were too intimidated to speak, even though we were in a public, well lit place and there were people from the cab company milling around making sure everyone was looked after. Even in this situation we didn’t feel secure enough to call out what these men were saying. The cab driver however had noticed the men and made a point to apologise to me for whatever they’d said because he saw that I felt uncomfortable and wanted to reassure me. He also waited to see that I got into my house, because i told him that I’d got a cab to avoid these men that had been following me. This cab driver was in no way responsible for the actions of these other men, and his apology wasn’t necessary, but it just goes to show that there’s a choice to be made, to be a sexist that knowingly objectifies and intimidates someone of the opposite sex, or to respect people. it’s certainly not just male to female, but it certainly feels like it’s more acceptable for men to objectify women at the moment, and I think it’s sad that someone my age should already feel so jaded about this kind of thing.
Heading to physiotherapy in a taxi. Driver asks “where is it you’re going?”, I give him the address. Nearing closer to our destination, he asks “do you know where it is, exactly?”. We’re driving around some business park that isn’t well signposted. I apologise and explain that it’s my first visit to this particular physiotherapist. He shakes his head and mutters “bloody women and directions” then proceeds to tell me how his “missus would get lost in a car park”.