I recently described my experience on my blog. I’ve copied the relevant section of the post below:
Monday was a federal holiday, so naturally I spent much of it in my pajamas. At about 4:00 pm, I ventured outside to pick up toilet paper and eggs from the bodega three blocks away from us — a 15 minute round trip, in-store time included.
I was about halfway to the store when an SUV turned into the driveway ahead of me. As I stopped to let the driver pull in, a second driver pulled over in his SUV (weirdly enough, they were both forest green) and asked me if I happened to have any cigarettes. And then, as thought it were the logical next step in our non-conversation, he asked me for my phone number.
I was still reeling from the surprise of having a strange man pull over in his car to ask me for my number when the first driver called me over. He asked me if I live around here, and I stupidly said yes, assuming he was going to ask for directions or something. (I had also previously assumed that he was pulling into his own driveway. I realize it’s unlikely that both assumptions would be correct, but bear with me.)
Nope! “Can I get in touch with you sometime?”
I smiled calmly, just like I had with the first man, and said “No, sorry sir,” just like I had with the first man. Then I walked away, wondering if that even was his own driveway after all, and whether I might have put myself in danger by admitting I lived nearby — and painfully aware that he was almost undoubtedly watching me as I walked away.
I’d like to live in a neighborhood where I know people are looking out for me. I don’t want to live in a neighborhood where I have to worry about being watched.
But wait, there’s more!
As I walked in the bodega, I intentionally put my shoulders back and my gaze nowhere. I grabbed my toilet paper and eggs and tried to just keep moving, but I had to wait behind two men at the counter. When I got out of the store, I saw they were still hanging around outside. Squaring my shoulders, I ignored them and headed for the corner.
Figuring my best bet was to play by the rules and be “polite,” I turned slowed down and started to turn back.
“What’s your name?”
I couldn’t believe it. I took a deep breath, and politely told them, “You guys are literally the third and fourth guys to hit on me in three blocks. So I’m sorry, but no, you can’t have my name.”
As I turned to walk away, I thought I heard one of them say, “That’s all right, boo, we got all we need to know.” What does that even mean? If it means I’m a bitch, that’s ok with me. But I also managed to imply that I lived around here. Again. By the time I got back to our house, I’d managed to freak myself out enough that I looked around behind me to make sure no one was following me before I turned up our front walk, thus identifying my home to anyone who might be watching.
And then I was grumpy for the rest of the evening.
Submitted by Brigid Fitzgerald Reading 2/23/2011
Location: Franklin St. NE and 7th St. NE
Time of harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)
Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.