Sex[ual Harassment] & The City

“If your flirting strategy is indistinguishable from harassment, it’s not everyone else that’s the problem.”

– John Sclazi

“In the grand scheme of things, worse things could have happened to you.”  Those were the words of a guy who’s friend grabbed my butt in the club. Even though I made a profane comment back expressing my indignation, I couldn’t believe such words uttered his mouth. It was then as I was looking at both him and the culprit that I realised, I could be looking at a potential rapist.

Big jump there right? From butt grabber to rapist;  but the fact that one had the nerve to touch me inappropriately whilst the other undermined the situation by essentially saying it could have been worse and showing a complete disregard for my welfare makes me wonder how out of touch men must be with the feelings of women in these situations.

Growing up in inner-city east London I noticed that the interactions many girls and young women had with guys were aggressive. Guys would walk up to women in a not so gentlemanly manner, and in some cases the girls would dismiss them in a spectacular fashion, leaving the guy to come back with vile words of the girl’s looks and sexual behaviour, “yeah, well you’re butters [ugly] anyway” is a common phrase that springs to mind.

I remember a few years ago I had a guy grab my arm to stop and talk to me. I had a burger in one hand and a milkshake in the other, hurrying along Central London in order to get my bus home. He asked the usual details, name, number, ‘have you got a man?’ And as I politely declined and told him I was in a hurry to catch the bus, he walked passed me and threw a huge trash bag at me. Let me reiterate A TRASH BAG. Luckily he picked it up outside of Starbucks so it was only filled with what felt like empty coffee cups. But the shock and public embarrassment was enough to make me feel vulnerable, and of course I began to cry. That is just one of many incidents I’ve had with guys who have approached me but went horribly wrong and the interactions turned into something short of a duel. Thankfully no blood has been spilled, but a few tears have. 

The older I get the more I no longer tolerate such BS and tend to resort to a violent blow if I have been approached in a sexually violent manner i.e. grab of the breasts, bum, and heaven forbid if a man tries to grab my crotch.

Many of my friends say that this is a dangerous approach and it is. It only takes one man to do a Chris Brown on me, even rape or kill me. But I cannot stress how sensitive I am to unwanted sexual advances and if I feel threatened that usually turns into violent defensiveness. No matter what I wear or do, be alone or with my friends I don’t believe I should ever have to accept a man disrespecting my body. I also do not believe women should do the same with men, because it certainly does not do anything to help the cause of ending sexual harassment and only creates a false sense of empowerment. People should respect the bodies of other people. Period!

Am I being too sensitive? Is the question that creeps up in my head once the anger has subsided. I do wonder have us urbanites, male and female, become too desensitised to sexual harassment and catcalling? Do men feel that this is an effective method of getting a woman’s attention? Have there been successful results? Is this method of approach something that I should accept and/or ignore as part of living in a large city? Perhaps I should count my lucky stars and be thankful that, in the grand scheme of things, worse things could have happened to me.

NEVER!!!!

Let me know your thoughts and experiences on the matter.

9 comments

  1. I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet
    I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all
    website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be
    a lot more useful than ever before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I usually walk away so I rarely stick around to see them respond. In some instances my violent attempts have been so weak that the guys would just laugh it off! Certainly not the case now ha! I must stress that I don’t advocate violence, and I see this more as self defence. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.

      Like

  2. this is such a good piece. glad to know there are other women who react with anger on the spot. I sometimes feel bad for spitting at men who catcall or approach me on the street (live in central London), not for their sake, just for the image it creates. Men catcalling is socially accepted/tolerated, but spitting, shouting, hitting, and cursing loudly in public isn’t. I still do it, because it makes me feel better.
    Sometimes reading these accounts and how unhappy it makes other women makes me feel better! because I always thought I was overreacting when I felt so bad and humiliated about being catcalled, thought I had to just take it as a part of life. But reading pieces like this just shows that feeling hurt and insulted and sometimes devastated after stuff like that happens is natural, normal and the right reaction.
    I have the right to show my disrespect and anger toward men who think it’s their right to completely ruin my good spirits and waste my time like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Saskia thank you so much for saying this. As I too also felt bad at times for responding violently purely because I hate violence, ha the irony. And I too do it just because it makes me feel better (sometimes). I think our response is a way to take back control of a situation where we feel undermined and belittled, and is totally normal to feel like crap when being touched or harassed. You truly have affirmed that it was a good idea to write this piece because I almost didn’t (with a fear of being misunderstood and promoting violence).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this. Thank you for sharing and I’m sorry all of those unfortunate things have happened to you. Something I’ve heard people say is, “I kind of take it as a compliment!” Which literally makes me sick. I’ve developed a response to that idea: if it’s a compliment, why don’t they do it when I’m with other men? Why is it only when I’m alone or with other women? Because it’s not a compliment. They don’t do it because they’re hoping we’ll like it and date them. They’re doing it because they want to assert their dominance. “I’m going to make you feel vulnerable and remind you that you can’t do anything about this because I’m stronger than you.” It’s never been about flirting or hoping for a romantic, sexual outcome (although I’m sure that’s in the back of their minds). It’s about dominance and preying upon what they percieve as the weaker sex.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely Lindsey I couldn’t agree more. And it’s sad that there are some women who sexually harass men as a way of claiming back such power rather than recognising it for what it truly is. I’ve personally never taken it as a compliment and never will.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Brilliant article.

    I remember recently walking home from a party and a guy followed me home. Started trying to chat me up nicely and got increasingly more aggressive when I just kept asking him to leave me alone (seriously, I’m 33, I am done with trying to protect men’s feelings by nicely saying ‘I’m married’ etc.) culminating in him telling me explicitly what he was going to do to me. I shouted loudly to fuck off and practically ran all the way home, terrified he was going to attack me.

    But according to some, I should be ‘grateful’ for the attention, I should ‘thank’ someone for finding me attractive.

    Just. Fucking. No.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jasmine I know that scenario all too well. I’m also tired of saying that I have a boyfriend or married to make it easier, surely ‘leave me alone’ is enough. Thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully it will be few and far in between… Well ideally none at all!

      Like

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