“I’m not looking for attention!”

Image by idirectori via Flickr

I have been living in DC for the last several years. I went to college here and ended up sticking around. I stumbled across this blog recently and after reading pages and pages of posts from strong, frustrated, scared women, I have to say, it has been a revelation.

I have been harassed for as long as I can remember – nothing horrible, but you know, the little things. First I’d like to say that I am so impressed that women feel comfortable sharing even the little things. Reading this blog has been the first time that I have ever thought, “This is more than just something that’s not okay and might be worth bitching about to my friends later.” Catcalls SHOULDN’T be just considered little things. They suck. They make you feel grimy. And one of the worst things about it is that other people will sometimes make you feel badly for feeling bad about it. I have had both girls and guys act as if I’m loving the attention if I mention a catcalling incident, or try to admit that I feel uncomfortable.

The one that stands out most to me is from years ago, when I was 17 years old. It was a pretty sunny day and I was sitting on a rock wall outside my boyfriend’s house with him and one of my girlfriends. My boyfriend stepped inside for a minute, and my girlfriend went behind the house to get something from her car. A white van with two middle aged men in it drove by. When they passed me they came to a dead stop (there were no other cars on the street so that wasn’t a problem) and they both started calling to me, saying I was sexy, come talk to them, etc. They both were practically falling over each other out the window closer to me to get a better look. I just looked away, shaken, and then they drove off. My boyfriend and friend returned, and I said what had happened. I was rattled, felt dirty, and I wanted to tell them… I guess I was hoping for an “EW,” or something to make me feel less like I was in this creepy transactional relationship with these two rude men who felt the right to shout to me. I distinctly remember my boyfriend giving this odd, rude noise (a snort almost?) and lighting into me for thinking I was so hott, and how I was acting like all the guys wanted to hit on me, and basically acting like I was exaggerating the incident because I wanted the attention. Luckily my friend came to my rescue and told him that all girls get catcalled and all girls HATE it, but you could tell he wasn’t convinced.

To this day it has affected me, and I have not felt empowered to mention it whenever I am harassed, for fear they will think I’m trying to act like I get attention.

Thank you to all of you who have shared your stories and gotten me to realize how wrong I have been.

Submitted by M

Location: On the street

Time of harassment: Day Time (9:30A-3:30P)

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.

2 responses to ““I’m not looking for attention!”

  1. Ugh, I’m sorry that happened to you. I remember how scared and awkward I’d feel when I got catcalled in high school. Please tell me you aren’t dating that guy anymore. Any guy who thinks women get off on that kind of attention has a lot of growing up to do.

  2. Street Harassment is absolutely not ok and you were right to try to express how it made you feel. I have also run into a lot of criticism for doing the same. I lived in San Francisco ten years and got harassed nearly every day. When I tried to communicate about how it made me feel, both men and women accused me of arrogance or of having a stick up my rear end.

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