Looking back at 10+ years of harassment

The very first time I can remember feeling uncomfortable by a man was at the age of 12 years old and I was walking with my dad in the market and a man stopped in his tracks at the sight of me, he stare me down to the point of feeling uncomfortable and then began following me for a short while. Since then like most women I have experience sexual harassment more than I can count or even remember at this point in the form of profanities, being honked at, cars stopping beside me, being groped at bars, pulled at, grabbed, followed, being videotape, photographed and there was even one refined gentleman who threw me down on to a bed when I worked at a model home for a Real Estate Developer, he held me down to see what the bed would feel like (I’m pretty sure the beds were not included with the purchase of a brand new home ). I assumed for a very long time that this is how all men were supposed to act and I that was in for a lifetime of harassment, stalking and never feeling safe in any environment so I began to make a few lifestyle changes to see if that would reduce the amount of negative attention I was receiving since I assumed it was maybe something that I was doing or wearing to invite this kind of attention.

So to this day I never do the following things: wear low cut or v-neck tops, anything tight, high heels, go anywhere by myself, smile at others or be nice(because the times I have been kind to a man it is 100% because “I want them” or so I’ve been told by a few) and I never go out to a bar with just a group of female friends (the times that I have done have been just unbearable with having to spend the night elbowing men away or having to pull back a girlfriend or even myself from someone leading you away)I hate not being feeling free to do what I want but if I can avoid a few negative comments it is worth it for me.

A few things that I have tried doing: not wearing make-up, not brushing my crazy, knotted puffy hair, wearing very baggy and loose clothing, and even some food stained sweats, the result: I still get harassed but more negative comments about my appearance than sexual ones.

Things I always do now: go out in public with a large group of close guy friends who despite me being kind and generous with them they know I do not want them sexually.

But even going out with my guy friends has failed me at times since I realized that not only do some men not have any respect for women but they that also do not respect each other as I have in the past been pulled away when dancing or holding a close friend and when out with my boyfriend being confronted by other men and cat-called. After an incident when a guy was yelling out sexual things to me, my boyfriend knocked him out only to say to me afterwards that “this would have never happened had he been single” he later told me that the comment did not mean that he did not want me but that he would not have been in that situation otherwise. That comment hurt me not because I thought he wanted to be single but because I knew that I was now dragging him into a life time of sexual harassment and being put in situations where he will feel the need to have to defend me.

I originally started to write this about the stalking and sexual harrasment I endured when I was in my 1st year of University but instead looked back at 10+ years of unwanted negative attention and as this flashback is long enough, I guess that story will wait until next time.