Street Harassment: It’s not a compliment.

TW: Sexual harassment. Also, if you’re reading this Dad, sorry.

I’d like to start by telling you a story. It’s a story that I’d wager the vast majority of women can empathise with on some level because I don’t know a single woman that doesn’t have a similar tale to tell. It’s a hot and humid day in mid-August 2008. You can see the heat in the air. Even the insects seem a little lethargic and surprised by it. I fan myself with my Oyster Card wallet . There are beads of sweat on my forehead, my hair is scraped up in a ponytail to keep it off my shoulders. My make up has completely melted. I’m wearing flipflops, shorts and a vest top, purely for practical reasons. It’s really bloody hot. There is a fair amount of flesh on show but I’m not an idiot, I had a wide rimmed hat and my SPF 50+ to protect me! No sunburn for me, no ma’am! By this point I’d been waiting for the bus in a suburb of London for about 20 minutes. There was no shade to speak of and I was getting pretty annoyed. I got my phone and impatiently check the time. Just as I looked down I heard a car door to the left of me. Looking up, I see a boy roughly my own age (16) or possibly a little older. “Alright sexy, you’re fuckin’ hot” he leers. I give him a look of absolute disgust. “Yes I know that – it’s 38 degrees” I reply, feeling pretty smug at my own witticism. His top lip curls. “Are you stupid?” he asks. “I mean I wanna fuck you.” I laugh in his face. Thankfully at that moment my bus appeared. I boarded with him shouting after me that I was a slut, a whore, a sket.

When I got home, I told a friend of mine about it. “Oh don’t make such a fuss, it’s a compliment!” she told me. “And besides, you’re not exactly wearing very much are you?” No. It is not a compliment. It’s sexual harassment. To this day, I am grateful that the bus came when it did because I don’t know how much the situation would have escalated. A lot of women are not as lucky as I was. Let’s not pretend that what happened to me was a compliment – that what women have to endure on a daily basis from total strangers on the street is a compliment. It’s not a compliment. It is inexcusable. It need to stop.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Street Harassment: It’s not a compliment.

  1. It is sad to know that I also don’t know ONE girl who doesn’t have a personal experience of sexual harassment. How infuriating!
    I also can’t believe your friend said that! *shakes head furiously*

  2. I bloody hate the word “sket”. I love every swear word but something about that one really gets my back up.
    Anyway — the worst street harassment for me is when men grab your upper arm like a child, so you are forced to say something to them, rather than scurry away with your head down.
    It’s probably dangerous, but these days I’ll round on street harassers with all the rage and righteousness I can muster lol. I’d rather risk my safety than feel inferior I think.
    Your response to that street harasser was ace by the way! :)

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