I was on a bus home alone late at night in South London and was on the phone to my boyfriend. I often call him when I’m in these circumstances as it makes me feel a bit safer. Whilst on the phone this random man said excuse me very loudly. I turned to him wondering what was wrong. He said ‘When you get off the phone you need to talk to me.’ I said ‘Do I? Why would that be?.’ He said ‘Because I have a nice face, and you have a nice face and we can talk about marriage and babies.’ This man was about 50. I’m 24. I would have loved to have told him to go fuck himself, but was worried in case he was getting off at the same stop as me and if he was going to follow me once I got off the bus. I turned back and started talking to my boyfriend on the phone again and very loudly joked about the ludicrous man old enough to be my father who wanted to marry me. I think the man felt a bit embarrassed after that and luckily he got off way before my stop. I’ve had a lot of similar experiences with men thinking their harassment is light hearted and ‘just a joke’ I find it so frustrating because for me nothing about these experiences are amusing. Being made to feel unsafe everywhere I go is not funny, it’s disgusting and it in infuriates me that there don’t seem to be any public awareness campaigns on public transport and no formal channels to report these instances of harassment and prosecute these individuals.
The other morning I was walking to work at 7:45am. I was tired. I didn’t have any make up on. I was wearing a baggy black t shirt, flared trousers and runners. I almost want to stop myself here because obviously, it doesn’t matter what I was wearing. what I’m trying to convey is that it was a day where i didn’t care what I wore or what I looked like. I wanted to be comfortable. A man made a sexual comment about me. Obviously this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Because I’m a woman. But I’ve noticed a trend. These men, (and every instance it is a man) say these comments just as there are past you. By the time you have registered what just happened they are metres away. Leaving you petty unequipped to confront them. They are taking so much power from women this way in one foul swoop. I turned to confront him but he was very far away. He had turned back to look at me, waiting for a response. I gave him the finger. Sometimes I’m not sure how to approach these situations. I feel like barking back an insult somehow only spurs on the idea to these bastards that the whole thing is just a fun game of wits and who can quickly think of a better put down. I almost cry with anger at the thought of how entitled these people seem to think they are to make comments about women who are simply being in public spaces. To me, it exposes a complete lack of respect and disdain some men have for the opposite sex. It’s infuriating, upsetting and wrong. A few weeks ago my friend and I were walking down the street and a bus driver in uniform made sexual comments about us. A bus driver. In uniform. Does this mean that if ever I’m on a bus alone late at night, I should be scared because a bus driver might rape me? Some might accuse me of over reacting here. But if this bus driver who obviously had no regard for my consent about being commented on, surely logically, he has no problem in disregarding my sexual consent. The rage.