Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Duke University, NC, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Flagstaff, AZ, Houston, Iowa City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, Oneonta, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Providence, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Twin Cities, West Georgia (University)
I was standing at the corner of Lyon and Laurier with my partner, and I had my arm around her after leaning in for a kiss. Two men in a white car rounded the corner and as they passed us, the man in the passenger seat leaned out the window and said something to us. I couldn’t make it out but it was probably something like the usual objectifying, gross, sexual comments we get from strangers on a daily basis when we go out in public. Thank you, kind sirs, for letting me know how turned on you are by a woman minding her own business on her way to school.
This happened to me about a year ago during last summer but I haven’t wanted to speak up about it to a large group of people until now.
I was riding my bike through the Glebe near Bronson to get to Carleton University when I stopped at a stop sign on a quiet street to wait for cars to go by, like any good cyclist. A second later a dirty red pick-up truck with two shirtless men screeched up right beside me. One of the men yelled, “Hey sexy girl, want to come sit with us?” I wanted to show I wasn’t afraid of them and make them leave so I yelled back, “Shut the f*ck up, leave me alone.” To them, that was the wrong thing to do.
For the next five minutes these two disgusting men followed me in their car hurling insults at me, saying I was a fat whore, bitch, skank, c*unt, you know name it. They told me they wanted to rape and kill me and teach my ugly self a lesson. The whole time I looked straight ahead and kept biking, afraid what they’d do if I stopped moving. A few times they even jerked the car in my direction and almost made me fall off my bike. It was a quiet area with few cars so they kept doing this. I remember very clearly looking at some of the pedestrians on the sidewalk beside me for help, but people just avoided my pleading looks.
Finally after a few minutes of this, they seemed to get bored that I wasn’t outwardly reacting and drove away near Bronson and Fifth, still yelling insults at me. I cried the rest of the way to Carleton, scared to stop in case they came back to find me.
In those fearful minutes, I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to get their license plate number or call the police. All I could think of was getting away from them. Even a year later I’m filled with intense fear whenever I think about that. I hated the feeling of being powerless.
Ladies, if you see some repulsive men cruising around the Glebe in a red pick up truck yelling at women, watch out. And get their license plate number!
My partner and I had an odd (at least for us) experience.
We went to a local coffee shop for lunch. While we were waiting in line, my partner nudged me. She said “That guy there” (a man with his back to us) “is taking pictures of that woman.” There were two women sitting in his line of sight, both with children, one with an infant. She was wearing a fairly low-cut top, likely to make it easy to breastfeed. He was using his smartphone to take pictures of her breasts.
Coincidentally, three police officers had just come in. The two of us had a brief whispered discussion, and the guy began to shoot zoomed video of the woman. My partner went to speak with one of the cops. He watched the guy shoot video, then explained to her that he couldn’t take action without consulting the shop manager, which he then did. The manager permitted him to approach the man. They went outside, where an animated discussion ensued. The ‘photographer’ came back in to his table — another man had sat down there, said “I can’t stay”, took his stuff, and left.
My partner spoke to the cop a second time then. When the cop confronted the guy by saying “Were you taking pictures of a woman in there?”, the guy responded “The one with the big tits? Yeah.” He made the man delete the images from his phone and told him he was no longer welcome in the coffee shop. My partner asked if he was going to tell the woman. The cop said he didn’t think the woman needed to know but that if my partner wanted to she could. We didn’t tell her what had happened, which we have mixed feelings about. But at least the creep hopefully got a scare put into him.
A team of 3 men working for a company that sells security systems door to door was canvassing in my neighbourhood. I didn’t see the company name but they were wearing blue shirts. It was the middle of the afternoon and I had gone out for a walk to get some fresh air. I had recently had a minor surgery and was feeling cooped up in the house. I was walking towards my house when I passed one of these guys; he was around six feet tall, had mirrored sunglasses with blue lenses, a baseball cap, and dark curly kind of greasy hair. He said hello using a phoney sales voice and I said hello back. Then he said “How are you? You look tired.” I thought that was rude so I continued to walk away. He was going up the driveway of my neighbour’s house so I said “Don’t come here next, we’re not interested.” He asked if I even knew was he was offering in the same phoney tone and I said I know we’re not interested. As I walked into my yard he sarcastically said “Well thanks for talking to me, and have a great day.”
So I called him a prick and walked into my house.
After work today I was sitting in the Rideau Centre reading a book (Gender Failure by Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote) when a young man came up to me, started touching my book, asking me what I was reading etc. I stopped him to explain I have a boyfriend because it was obvious he was attempting to pick me up. However, he dodged this and continued on. At first he started by just asking why I was reading the book and when I answered prompted me to explain what “transgender” was. At this point I began to feel extremely nervous and trapped. I was thinking of how to exit this situation but felt held back by some warped feeling of “not wanting to be rude” even though he was clearly the one being invasive. I tuned him out while I started desperately to think of excuses I could make to leave. I half heard him offer his own explanation of what being trans* is (completely disrespectful, transphobic, rude) but my mind was elsewhere and I just hurriedly said “yes” without thinking and looked for my escape.
A response I now regret, but at the time for me to dispute would be to engage further in a conversation that I did not want to elongate and I was not fully present in. I feel like this was his goal: to make me uncomfortable and to trap me into saying or agreeing to things. I’m usually a very strong person but I wanted to cry in this moment. Every time I went to make an exit or change the subject he would jump to another question and like a knee-jerk reaction I would reply. When he asked me to explain what feminism is I should have told him it isn’t my job to school him in the subject, but I answered a generic answer and when he asked me to provide examples I said “well for one, would a woman do to you what you’re doing to me right now?”. He smirked and said he would like that. As if I should appreciate it. But that wasn’t enough for him so I stumbled over an answer (I think I said something along the lines of pay inequality as an example). He didn’t stop pressing me until he’d seemed to have enough out of me. Sometimes he’d look down the hall and eventually I got the feeling I was being recorded or taped. When he finally made the move to leave I was so relieved I shook his hand. But the moment he was gone I was left feeling so uncomfortable I wanted to cry. I questioned my answers, felt ashamed for engaging with him in the first place on sensitive topics that cannot possibly be explained in a single sentence to someone who doesn’t care. To agreeing to statements I don’t believe. For letting him get the best of me like he did and for not being the girl I thought I was: the girl that could tell him to fuck off like I so desperately wanted to. There were tons of times during the conversation I thought “leave now” but I couldn’t move. There was a way about it. I’m afraid I’ve been recorded or videotaped like other women in Ottawa have been recently. If a young man approaches you like this I want other women to know they aren’t obliged to engage with him and you can walk away. I wish I had.
One summer night I was walking home in the dark from visiting friends. It wasn’t particularly late, maybe 9:30 or 10 pm and a group of guys walked by me and one of them said to me, in a pretty aggressive tone ‘If you had bigger tits I’d fuck you.’ This happened when I first moved to Ottawa, a few years ago. It made me feel really uncomfortable and unsafe and I cried a bit on the way home. It made me feel self conscious and ashamed and disgusting for being a woman. I called my friend when I got home and told her what happened, and she laughed. Of all things. She thought it was funny that someone would say that to a woman. I didn’t think it was funny at all and I wish that people would consider the impact that their words have on people.
I went to purchase rolling papers. I went into the empty store by myself and began looking at the displays. I went over to the owner (where he was sitting behind the counter) to ask to get my papers. He leaned in close to me and stares at me proceeding to say that I look 12 and I’m so cute. I nervously laughed and said my age (I thought he was implying he couldn’t sell them to me in a creepy way). He was shocked at my real age and told me they don’t get beautiful girls in much. I asked for what I wanted and he handed them to me. We went to the cash and he starts clicking buttons but making mistakes and saying how distracting my beauty is. Then he asks me what I do (for work). I tell him I work with children and he begins saying oh cute 12yr old babysitter how much for you to babysit me? I again nervously laugh saying a lot but no thank you. He starts offering me 50$ saying that’s all I’m worth. I say no thank you and ask for my total. He goes back to the cash register but won’t tell me. He begins again by calling me a whore this time and offering 50$ again. I felt as though the walls were closing in on me (anyone who has been in this shop knows it goes back very deep and has doors to lead it back farther as well this store usually only has a couple customers in it at a time) so I said no, dropped a 20$, grabbed my stuff, and ran out the door without looking back. I ran into the nearest store to find safety unsure if I had been followed. I regret wasting my money in that asshole establishment (he had just been on the phone telling someone they can order in the confederate flag just btw) but I don’t regret my tattoos, wearing my shorts, or anything about me. I’m not 12 and I’m not for sale.
Out walking my dog at night, a car with four men slowed down while they passed me and blatantly stared at me. One said “Damn, girl!” while another shouted “Nice boobs!”
I responded as I always do at night (or when I don’t feel safe to verbally engage) and gave them the finger, while they drove away laughing.