Tuesday, February 27, 2007

4 in 1

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, I
would 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 a man
suddenly got on and stood extremely close to me and just stood there leering
at 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
man stepped up behind me so close that I could feel his breath on my neck
and 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. I was quite shaken after this and hated myself
for having to move to this city.

My next errand that 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 arm
as 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 harassment. 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

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 harassment. 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 of this.

Julia in San Francisco, CA

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear this is happening to you- I shared a similar experience when I was living in NYC. I lived in Manhattan in Spanish-Harlem and got cat-called and harassed every time I walked out of my apt. building. I felt dirty, degraded and frightened. I hope you can move and get out of that situation. And make sure you carry pepper-spray with you. I also heard it helps to walk straight and tall and look intimidating.