Feminism, Fillyjonk

Expecting crickets

Out of curiosity, and because I’m sure we could all use a break from 500-comment threads in which men drop by to deny or devalue our experience: I’d like you to comment on this post only if you are a woman who has NOT EVER had a man continue interacting with you against your will after you have answered tersely, turned away, walked on, put on your headphones, gone back to your book, resumed your conversation, told him you did indeed have a boyfriend, denied his request, or asked him to leave you alone. Comment only if the men you’ve encountered have consistently respected your boundaries and acknowledged your right to have them.

You don’t have to go on at length — just let us know how old you are and where you live.

ETA: For the sake of science I am combining comments from the same person, and deleting ones that say “yes, this has happened to me.” I’m interested in an at-a-glance count. (ETAA: Ok, clearly I gave up on that.)

ETA II: I meant to make this clear but maybe I didn’t — I’m not talking about guys hitting on you specifically. I’m talking about any insistent attempt to insert themselves into your consciousness, positive or negative. Let me know if you want to recant your comment in light of that.

ETA III: SM tried to ruin my extremely scientific and not at all gimmicky comments count by posting the following re: comments like “I must exude a don’t-fuck-with-me quality”:

I appreciate the sentiment behind this, but this kind of statement comes really close to implying that people who do get harassed have brought it on themselves.

I agree with her — I exude a very strong don’t-fuck-with-me quality and I still get insistent positive or negative attention from the kind of guys who don’t care. It’s not about that. You may have some quality that prevents you from noticing when people demand to be acknowledged, but there is no quality that invites or deters it.

Finally, I asked for the negative space of street harassment because I think we could all use a little peace and quiet, but of course if you want examples of what it looks like when it does happen there are more than enough available here.

98 thoughts on “Expecting crickets”

  1. Not since middle school, where there wasn’t a strong correlation between gender and type/frequency of teasing. I evidently have an Ignore-Me Field the approximate size of Rhode Island.

    Oh, and I’m 25 and live in Waltham, MA currently, but have also lived in the DC and Philadelphia suburbs.

  2. Hi. I have never had an experience like that, and I never had to learn the kind of fear I’ve heard other women talk about on previous threads. It feels strange.
    I’m trying to think of an instance where it has happened to me. Maybe like with long-winded relatives who like to give advice? Somehow that seems like a different kind of problem. I never felt like they were a threat, and they did have a legitimate claim to talk with me.
    I’m also trying to think of why this would be the case. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of privilege that consistently insulates women from this sort of encroachment. It happens to conventionally attractive women as well as conventionally unattractive women, rich women as well as poor, women of all races. I live in a well-populated urban area. I go out in public, I go to school, I use public transportation.
    So I guess either I’ve been ridiculously lucky so far or I’m forgetting something important.

    Oh, and I’m 21 and I split time between Seattle and Portland. I also have an ambiguous gender presentation, but it seems like that would make harassment more likely rather than less.

  3. Actually, yes. How did I get through 25 years of life- 20 in LA and 5 in NYC- with no unpleasant encounters? I must give off a strong dont-mess-with-me vibe.

  4. In my 20s I remember complaining once that guys never – NEVER – hit on me, chatted me up, etc., and a friend said, “it’s probably because you always have that fuck you look on your face.” As I got older (I’m 34 now) and got more comfortable in my skin I did start to get more attention, but I’ve never had the experience you describe. I have no idea why.

    I grew up in Miami but have lived in NYC, upstate NY, western Mass, and DC.

  5. I’m 41, live in Houston, but I’ve lived all over the country. Men don’t approach me in public, not like that. I’ve had old men start to chat with me and bore me, but nobody has ever hit on me in person.

  6. I can honestly say that I’ve never had the experiences so many women have described in the other threads. I’m 47. I grew up in suburban Detroit, lived and worked in the city of Detroit for several years, and have lived in both the rural south and rural midwest for the past 15 or so years. Though I’ve never had to rely on public transportation on a regular basis (Detroit’s been too reliant on the auto industry for so long that public transport isn’t as popular as in other urban centers), I have had plenty of experience with it in my travels to different urban areas both in the States and in Europe.

  7. I’ve actually been very lucky in that aspect of my life. I’ve never had someone continue the advance once I’ve told them to go away. I’m 19, live in Oregon, only dated once, and wasn’t comfortable with the guy after the first date. So, I told him I wasn’t, and he respected my wishes, automatically. I haven’t heard from him since (it’s been over a year). Others who have hit on me have also been respectful.

    I’m always scared that it might happen, but I think that I just kind of give off the impression that I won’t take any shit from anybody, so those that are intending to disrespect leave me alone.

  8. I’ve got a major “Ignore me/Don’t mess with me” force field too, so I only get unwelcome attention from guys who can’t see my expression very well (e.g. driving by, etc). I’m 40 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and live there now, and have lived in Boston and North Carolina. I used it to my advantage walking alone late at night when I was younger, although I shudder to think about that now.
    Nonetheless, I always knew that my experience was not typical.

  9. I actually seem to have a pretty high “ignore me” forcefield, as things go.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever been approached, except for the random bonds that seem to spring up during sporting events. But then, I never really wanted to.

    Oh, and I’m 31 and have lived in Georgia and Iowa, and used to travel quite frequently.

    That doesn’t stop me from looking over my shoulder half expecting it, though.

  10. I feel like I’ll remember something right after I comment, but at the moment I can’t think of a time this has happened to me. I’m 25 and have lived in California (both Northern and Southern) my entire adultlife.

  11. I have never had someone continue to interact with me, unless obviously mentally ill, after I indicated I was done. I am now 49, and live in Columbia, SC and have since 1998. Before that 7 years in Portland ME, 7 years in Chicago and 3 in Atlanta. No problem. I am 5’10” and not thin, so perhaps that’s part of it. I am friendly and chatty in general, but when I am no longer interested they stop.

  12. I can’t remember ever having an issue with a strange man who would not take no for an answer and demanded my attention but I’m always at least subconsciously expecting it. I’m 24, lived in Tennessee for most of my life but I’ve been in urban Wisconsin for about a year and a half.

  13. It’s never happened to me before, however I’m only 19 and live in Indiana. So I haven’t been in a lot of situations where it may have happened. But still. I’m always surprised I’ve never had that experience.

  14. I range from invisible to intimidating. I am also tall and tough-looking and I agree that this is part of the reason those things don’t happen to me. I’m 36 and I live in Alberta, Canada.

  15. I’ve never had it happen to me in my 33 years. I also, I guess quite fortunately, don’t have that same fear that many women describe. I’ve lived in a medium-sized urban environment that whole time. There are certain places where I’ve feared mugging or my car being stolen, etc., but not any sort of threat specific to me being a woman.

    Of course, I’ve had unwanted attention from time to time, but I’ve never encountered anyone who didn’t walk away when I said, “sorry, not interested” or something along those lines.

  16. Age 54, NYC.
    Don’t know why.
    In fact, I have been way more likely to have the opposite experience – where I express interest in a guy (or even sometimes try to have a friendly innocuous chat) and he can’t get away fast enough.

  17. I’m 68, and except for the fact that things got pretty weird on the subway and from construction workers in New York City when I was 19 or 20 in the early 60s, I’ve got to say nope, never happened.

    I lived and worked in New York City, Boston (also in the 60s), Rochester, NY (70s and 80s), Phoenix (late 70s), New Jersey (80s) and California (90s and early 2000s).

  18. 22, London, Ontario (Canada). I’m pretty introverted but I’ve been taking the bus since I was 15 and I’ve had several jobs in the downtown region of my city. I very rarely get hit on or approached by people in general but I don’t know why.

  19. I’ve never had this happen to me, but I suppose I am quite young. I am 21 and currently live in NYC and previously lived in New Jersey and Washington DC area.

  20. I’ll de-lurk to remark that I have not ever had this happen to me. I am not anti-social, I am friendly, but I’ve never had someone continue to bother me after making it clear that I was done with a conversation. I am 25 and in Upstate NY.

  21. I don’t think I’ve ever had that persistent male attention. I worked with a woman who had constant male attention, good and bad. It got annoying quickly. Everywhere we went. But the catcalls, comments, stares, all for her. It made me glad I am awfully invisible.

    And for your stats, I rode public transportation in HS, college (Madison), and sometimes in Chicago.

    I think my lack of attention extends to women too – I can never get helped at the department store make-up counter either. Even when I want to buy lipstick.

    Age 33. Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, now suburban Milwaukee.

  22. I can’t recall this ever happening to me. I am 23, live in the suburbs just outside of Sydney, Australia and frequently use public transport as I work in Sydney. I also lived in Canberra, Australia for short period.

  23. 22, Bay Area, CA. I ride the train on an almost-daily basis. I’ve never received unwanted advances. I do tend to get approached with questions about the time, directions, trains, etc. quite a bit (I figure that, as a short fat white chick, I must strike people as the least threatening person in the vicinity, or something) but the questions are always asked in earnest and not as a prelude to anything else. I’m usually happy to help if I can, but either way I’m left alone afterward.

  24. I have never had that experience. But, then again, I never really mind it when people talk to me. Typically the people who I would have preferred to stop talking to me are elderly ladies, but mostly I have had pretty good interactions with people in public – both men and women. I now realize that I’ve been lucky.

    I live in Minneapolis and am 30. I used to take public transportation regularly in my early 20s, but I haven’t in quite some years. Which may explain some of my experience.

  25. @ OC–I realize I’m messing up the count here, but older men boring you is definitely part of this phenomenon. Some folks, and IMHO more of them are men, operate as though their interest in talking overrode your disinterest in hearing them. When was the last time you were “trapped” at a social function by a woman (who wasn’t a relative, boss or someone you couldn’t easily send ‘go away’ signals to?)

  26. 27, Michigan. I think men do everything in their power to AVOID me.

    I went to a weirdo club with some friends – there was a shady man wandering around, making unwanted comments and gestures to pretty much every single woman in the place, including one member of my party. Not once did he look at me or say a word.

    Of course, I have been taught that NOBODY likes me (especially men) because I’m fat, so maybe I exude that energy in public.

    And I work with the public on a daily basis. All of my female co-workers have been hit on and majorly harassed by male customers. Me, not once. They just call me “Ma’am.”

  27. I’m 34, I live in Charlotte, NC. I have lived in Los Angeles, CA and La Crosse, WI. I have never had anyone continue to hit on me or interact with me after I’ve shut them down. I have been hit on. I have had one night stands. I have had boyfriends. I am married.

  28. At the risk of ruining science, can I just point out that “It’s never happened to me, except…” really doesn’t count as “It’s never happened”?

  29. I’ve never had it happen. I honestly think it’s just sheer dumb luck. On public transit I almost always have earphones in and am reading a book or knitting, but it seems like a lot of other women have had someone still harass them even with those “leave me alone” cues. However, my mom raised me to always be aware while you’re in public/on transit, etc., always be aware of your surroundings, don’t wear headphones when you’re walking at night, know where to punch someone, and gave me a pocket knife when I started high school. I walk around constantly evaluating what’s going on around me, who’s there, and what I would do were something to happen.
    I am 19 and live in Salt Lake City.

  30. I’m 25 and live in suburban Kansas City (the Kansas side).

    I’m autistic and can’t drive, so I don’t leave the house very much now, but when I went to college at the University of Kansas I would walk around all over town, and never have any problems.

  31. 35 years old, Currently in WA
    most of the 2000’s in AZ
    most of the ’90’s in VA
    Grew up in KY.

    Mid-to-large size cities in all places.

    I use public transit, and have never had trouble.

  32. I definitely acknowledge that those of us for whom this has not been a part of our experience are in the minority, but we do exist.

    I’m 31, live in Columbia, Missouri now, lived in SE Oklahoma until I was 25.

  33. 40 yrs old, currently in Tokyo Japan, lived in the US and Australia for extended periods of time during my 20s, mostly San Antonio(TX), Brisbane(Qld), Melbourne(Vic)
    Never happened in Tokyo. Never. Have happened in the US and Australia. I’m Asian so the xenophobia does not factor into why it hasn’t happened in Tokyo.

  34. Almost 20, lived most of my life in a comfy suburb outside of Seattle, now attending a small college between Portland and the Pacific. I can’t think of a single incident.

  35. I can’t even remember the last time any stranger talked to me, but when it happened, they all respected my “Sorry, not interested”. Same goes for colleagues, etc. I don’t want to talk to about things other then work.

    I’m 29 and live in Germany.

  36. Doesn’t happen to me, apart from one situation which a drunk guy grabbed me at the back of my neck – then I shook him off and got away, so there was no continued harrasment.

  37. it happens often… there are more extreme stories like men on buses where i’ve literally had to get off said bus as to get away from the guy. i’ve been followed before by a guy in a car in broad daylight who kept on hitting on me, i even ran four blocks till i could go into a safe building

    Interestingly enough once i got a car (my own private space) i encountered this a lot less.

  38. At the risk of ruining your science, it’s never happened to me as an adult. As a 14-year-old, yes, but the man in question had some mental issues.

    As an adult I’ve lived in St. Paul, MN; rural Wisconsin; and now Hong Kong. I’ve done a lot of travelling around southeastern Asia and never had any problems there, either. I’m 27.

  39. I’m 20 and live in Scotland. I can’t think of any time when a man has continued to try to interact with me after I made it clear I wasn’t interested, although in the category of things that might not count for this exercise, I have been flashed, whistled at and once had a guy wordlessly hand me his phone number when I was waiting to cross the road (I was 14 and in school uniform when that one happened).

  40. 38, Australia, various small towns and major cities eg melbourne, brisbane. I don’t know what it is, really. Mainly people don’t approach me at all, other than older people e.g. tourists asking for directions then moving on – which happens a LOT, oddly – but I honestly can’t remember a time when someone kept talking and not respecting my signals (whatever they were, I don’t know myself even).

  41. De-lurking to say I’m one of those people who have not had persistent and unwanted attention from men in public spaces. Sometimes when I read the descriptions of the things other women go through, I am very surprised, and I can’t really say I identify with those situations or recognize those feelings. I do believe the stories I’m told, I’m just surprised that women encounter such stressful and horrible things routinely in public spaces. I’m sure it’s scary and frustrating!

    In public spaces I’ve encountered threats of violence, I’ve had someone telling me they will kill me, and I’ve been hit on / chatted up loads of times, but in my opinion none of this really fits the specific kind of behaviour that’s been discussed here lately. The threats have come from people clearly very drunk / in drugs / mentally ill, and have not persisted after I’ve walked on or changed my seat. Yes, they did scare me, but I didn’t feel the main problem was that my boundaries were overstepped – clearly the source of the trouble was the overall mental state of the person making those threats. And the people trying to hit me or chat me up have taken no for an answer. I guess I’m very lucky.

    I’m 29, I have lived in Finland, UK and Norway, and now I’m in Japan. And I’ve never owned a car, so wherever I live, I always use the public transport. I also travel a lot, often alone.

    (Maybe I should add that I do get men talking to me in a friendly way in public transport, and when that happens, I talk back if I feel like it. I often genuinely prefer to have a conversation with someone when I’m in public transport, so I don’t mind. If I don’t feel like talking, I generally read a book, and I’m left in peace.)

  42. I’m 26, female and resident in Cambridge UK; I have never had a man (stranger or otherwise) persist in hitting on me after I clearly indicated that I didn’t want him to do so (some men have hit on me who I didn’t want to flirt with, but I said no and they went away; I don’t view this sort of behaviour as bad).

  43. I’ve never been hit on in person (meaning, not on the internet), period. (There is a chance I’ve been hit on without me realizing it, but I know I would have realized it if the person persisted when I wanted him to leave me alone.)

    I’m 23 and live in a semi-rural area of New Hampshire. I also have Asperger’s syndrome, which may have something to do with it; I’ve been told my body language is always off in an indefinable way, which makes people less inclined to speak to me. So while I’ve never had this happen, I’m not surprised that my experience isn’t universal.

  44. To clarify, because I just reread the part of the post that said that women who have don’t-talk-to-me body language also often get this kind of negative attention – I suspect I may actually put off a creepiness vibe, rather than just “don’t talk to me.”

    And to respond to a part of the post which I apparently missed the first time, I’m talking about all male attention, not just flirting. I’ve never had a man keep trying to talk to me when I made it clear that I was done. I can only think of a handful of times people have approached me in public to begin with, and most of them were women. I didn’t realize until I read the comments on the other post how unusual this was.

  45. I’m 29, from the UK and resident in Manchester. I cannot think of a time when I’ve been harassed, had someone pursue me or continue a conversation against my expressed preference.

    I understand that many other people have these experiences and I am horrified by them. But horrifyingly common is not the same as universal.

  46. Ok, I just realized there has been someone — that irritating facilities dude at work. It didn’t register at first because he hasn’t been around much lately and he isn’t hitting on me or anything, just being chatty and “witty” when I’ve indicated that I am busy. Feel free to delete my first comment. :-/

    It still never happens on public transit — I suspect it’s an unusual confluence of privileges and personal style elements that combine to result in “nondescript” and therefore invisible.

  47. 33, New Zealand. I’ve chatted happily to some and not others (some have been tying to pick me up, others haven’t) but I’ve never had anyone push it with me. I do not know why this is.

  48. 20, Republic of Ireland. I’ve never had that experience. I’ve never felt worried about what would happen if I told someone to leave me alone, either.

  49. On the one hand, it has never in my life happened to me. I’m 22, and have lived in both rural Massachusetts and Boston, MA.

    On the other hand, I am also completely fucking oblivious to human social interaction most of the time, so as far as I know, someone has tried and I’ve just completely not noticed.

  50. Age 37, live in Washington, DC, and previously lived in Utah and Chicago. Hasn’t happened to me. I’ve been left alone after I said no or whatever.

  51. I’ll join in here. I can’t recall anyone persisting after I’ve communicated, verbally or through body language, “no.” I’m 36 and live in Northwestern Ontario.

  52. 22, Michigan. And I don’t think it’s fair to that feeling like you exude a “don’t fuck with me” field is somehow assigning blame to women who DO get harassed — give me a fucking break please. The blame ALWAYS lies with the person who chooses to rape or assault or whatever else. But I think that sometimes the culture of fearfulness created by this worry does, in some ways, more harm than good. While obviously a healthy amount of caution is a good thing, radiating fear at every moment in public DOES sort of put a big neon sign over your head that attracts negative attention. I backpacked through Europe alone for a month and never felt unsafe. The only time I’ve felt nervous for my safety while traveling (and I’m not counting this, because it had no basis in anything that happened, just my perceptions) was when I was with a friend who radiated this aura of fear; she was just waiting for someone to mug or harass or assault her, and I was uncomfortable feeling like I was her first line of defense.

    I have never been harassed, assaulted, approached in a manner that made me uncomfortable — anything. I’m not sure why, but I’m incredibly grateful for it. I think that part of it is feeling/acting unfuckwithable, part of it is being fat, part of it is a high school career spent generating a personal invisibility field, so I know how to pull it out if I need to. Living in caution is good. Living in fear is not. And while I recognize that sadly, experiences have made tat fear unavoidable for some women, I do think that it’s unhealthy to walk around expecting something awful to happen to you at every turn.

  53. O.K., well in the minority here, but it does happen to me. QUITE A BIT. Infact, I had one man refusing to leave me and my female friend alone last night, but my male friend steeped in to pretend that he was my boyfriend (its sad, but thats what it often comes down to). There have been numerous other times where male friends have had to step in or I have had to deliberatly move away, rather than the guy backing off. I’m 18 and live in the UK. I have had to accept that this kind of attention is part of going out drinking and to clubs.

  54. 29, Florida. I’ve only actually been engaged by random men a dozen times (50% definite creepazoids, 50% normal-seeming dudes) that I can remember, and they all shut down when I didn’t encourage the interaction. I have been told that my default expression is “I will face-punch you,” so that might have something to do with it. Given that my best friend growing up couldn’t (and still can’t) poke her head outside her front door without having to deal with pushy, entitled douchebags getting all up in her personal space and demanding her attention, I’ve always been pretty grateful for whatever the hell keeps me off their radar.

  55. Central NJ. 39 years old.

    Never had a man continue to interact with me after I let him know I was not interested. Of course, being larger and less attractive then typical standards means I have never been hit on by strangers and never really even get catcalls. I also don’t take public transportation often.

    If anything, I find it is women that bother me in waiting on line situations and the like. I always have something with me to read for these situations, yet some women feel like it is somehow my responsibility to keep them company when I just want them to leave me alone to read.

  56. New Jersey, 21 years old.

    Maybe I’m just bizarre, but I’ve never in my life *not wanted* male attention or interaction. It may be that I’m too recently out of the stage when I was a geeky teenager pining to be noticed. But I simply can’t imagine being genuinely irritated to be hit on in public. To be honest, I seek it out sometimes.

    I’m aware of the logic behind rape culture, and I am conscious that it’s wrong for men to persistently ignore women’s signals.

    I just can’t remember a single catcall, pick-up, text message, etc. that I haven’t welcomed ecstatically.

  57. I’m 34 and rarely have had strange men talk to me at all, and they’ve all left me be if I shut them down. I live near Albany NY, and have also lived in Bloomington IN and Seattle.

  58. Oh, come to think of it, there was one frightening experience in a train station. I thought I saw a friend of mine and waved at him — but it turned out he wasn’t my friend, he was some guy I didn’t know, and he started obsessively calling me “beautiful” and I practically had to run away from him. I locked myself in the bathroom until he went away.

    So I suppose I’m only “boy-crazy” when I’m not afraid for my own safety.

  59. Hi, my name is Maggie and I live in Chapel Hill, NC where I go to college.
    I’ve lived in Durham, Cary, Raleigh, NC as well as Toronto and Ottawa, ON.

  60. Caitlin (a different one to the other Caitlin?):

    I’m 18 and live in the UK. I have had to accept that this kind of attention is part of going out drinking and to clubs.

    Apart from that you seem to be posting on the wrong thread (as you’re talking about getting harassed regularly, not the reverse), what you said here struck me. I am now older than 18 (sigh) but also from the UK and used to go out a lot (although I’ve never really drunk much alcohol and am teetotal now, but this is down to me hating it and not seeing any fun in being drunk… I think this comes from how many puking friends I used to end up looking after and also the feeling of danger I think I would get if I didn’t have total control of all my faculties)… but anyway, what struck me is that we shouldn’t have to accept that harassment is par for the course when going out to have fun with mates and dance, etc. We just shouldn’t have to accept it. I know being angry about it alone won’t change that it happens, but I think ‘accepting it’, in the sense of being resigned to it being the way it is, helps to perpetuate the problem. Of course you have to balance anything you might personally do to challenge it against considerations of your own safety… but I don’t think for one minute that the goal should be to reach a point where you’ve truly just ‘accepted’ this kind of behaviour. Anger can be very therapeutic sometimes!

  61. Ack, bolding fail. Sorry — only ‘we just shouldn’t have to accept it’ should be in the second batch of bolded writing!

  62. I’ve never experienced this. Saskatchewan, Canada. Grew up in a small town, but have lived in various larger cities since 1988, including Ottawa.

  63. De-lurking to say that I have never had an experience where someone has ever persisted in talking to me after I’d made it clear that I wasn’t interested.

    40 years old in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

  64. Confidential to Starling on this thread: we already have a commenter who goes by Starling (she wrote the guest post before this one), so you might want to alter your name to differentiate from her somehow. Sorry!

  65. Only happened twice, and both times strike me as exceptional – once because he was a con artist trying to con non-Italian-speakers out of money in Italy, and once because he was clearly after both me and my boyfriend (and honestly probably wanted to get on my boy’s case more than mine).

    22, New York and Chicago.

  66. 25, Philadelphia suburb (PA). Most of my life was in NJ. I’ve never had this experience.

    I have often wondered why and counted myself as lucky. I assumed that being fat is the main reason, and I am intimidating in size (tall and fat).

    I will admit that I have not known how to give the stop-talking-to-me signal, so I don’t count them under this category. Usually, I signal by walking away, and so far I have not been followed.

    I do want to share one experience. A man tried to join me in the cafe car on a train, but I left and returned to my seat to avoid him. Later, I saw him in the station talking to a girl that was clearly texting her friends to avoid him. I wished I knew a way to make him stop talking to her, but I didn’t want to get the attention back.

  67. Honestly, in high school I tended to blend into the background. The only people who gave me a hard time were FEMALE. I then went into the Marines, 4 days after my High School Graduation. Boot Camp (I’m sorry…it’s Recruit Training now) went by as smoothly as can be expected. I gained oodles of confidence and control over my body – and it showed. Men did like that, but either I was mighty fierce, or the uniform scared them away, because when I told them to SCRAM, they were gone.
    When I entered the Fleet (the regular Marines, being assigned a duty station and all that) the only trouble I got was from….oh, you guessed it!…..FEMALE Marines. I have no idea what they thought of me, but I have to guess that they viewed me as a threat. And when I started to gain weight (as almost all marines do in the Fleet, especially women) they treated me like DIRT. Like I was expected to be an example for all women – Woman Marines, anyway – and I had failed them.
    Even after the Marines, I find myself hanging out with men more. I don’t have time to deal with latent hostility; cattiness and bickering.
    I have lived most of my live in Jacksonville, FL ; but have also lived in Pensacola, FL; Cherry Point, NC; Carlinville, IL; and in WA – Kent, Puyallup, Milton, and now Vancouver.

  68. Hi – 44, lived in Boston all my life, never been “hit on” in an uncomfortable way, or had any sort of harrasing, unwanted attention except for a few (3) cat-calls from men in construction sites when I was in my 20’s.

  69. Just to clarify my comment: I didn’t find the cat-calls scary or alarming – which is why I noted them as an exception to your question. I guess they may have been meant to be harassing, or maybe the men thought they were complimenting me.

    I’ve also recieved unwanted sexual attention from women, and one of those times I actually WAS scared of the woman who was hitting on me. Not sure how that fits into your question, but there it is.

  70. I’m 39. Grew up in WA state, live in Utah. I’ve never had a guy persist in anything once I said I wasn’t interested.

  71. I’ve never had it happen. I’ve been hit on, but after I expressed disinterest, they always went away. I grew up in Northern CA, and have since lived in Boston, NYC, and now live in Indiana. I’m 30.

  72. 26, South Africa.

    I’ve had random men make comments to me a few times, never in a threatening way, and none have ever persisted after I said “not interested”, or just kept walking past. I’ve had men chat me up in bars/nightclubs, but you kind of expect to be chatted up in bars, and i’ve never had a man persist beyond the bounds of normal interaction.

    I am aware that this is probably not a universal experience. I am white, so i cant speak for the experiences of African or mixed race women here, but the kind of harrassment you have spoken of is certainly not part of the public feminist consciousness in SA to the same degree that it seems to be evident from the postings here.

  73. @ Zeenoddle

    You’re right, I missed the ‘NOT EVER’ part of fillyjonk’s question. And then I was confused as to why so many people were saying that they had never experinced harrasement. That makes more sense!

    re: ‘… but I don’t think for one minute that the goal should be to reach a point where you’ve truly just ‘accepted’ this kind of behaviour.’

    I never said that it was a goal. It is how I deal with it, as I refuse to alter my dress/behaviour/general friendliness. Personally, I would find it much worse to alter myself to try and avoid this kind of behaviour (which hasn’t worked in the past, btw, it just tends to lead to ‘give me a smile’ type comments) than to ignore them and make a rapid exit if I feel that my personal safety is being threatened.

  74. I’m 41 and I grew up in Toronto where I took public transit through my teen years and moved to Manchester, UK 7.5 years ago where I took public transit every day for 7 years. Count me in as well as never having had this problem. I give off the please ask me for directions vibe as mentioned above by several people though. It never ocurred to me that it might be because I was a short fat white woman and therefore unthreatening.

  75. 49… never even been approached or asked out. I do have a great circle of friends, male and female, so I’m no pariah. Just not someone men wish to interact with romantically I guess.

  76. I’m 25, and live in South Georgia. Born and raised.

    I’ve not been harassed by strange men once I shut them down in some way (either by pointedly reading my book at them or scowling at them). Do I get approached? Yes, by both men and women. Not a lot, but enough to provide “reassurance” (gag) that I’m still attractive to strangers. Because I need their validation to make me feel worthwhile, you see.

    I’ve been bothered by A) men that I know who don’t back the fuck off because “I know they’re cool and they’d never try anything” and B) some women, who have said to me “Why are you shutting me down? It’s not like I’m a rapist or something!” which, um, I take issue with. Having a hooha doesn’t mean you’re not going to try and take advantage of me, kthnxbye.

    But strange men in public, or on the bus, or anywhere else? Nope.

    Now, it may come from my upbringing as a delicate Suthun flowah and the fact that I’m nice to just about everyone, even when I tell them to go fuck themselves, or the fact that my daddy taught me how to knife fight when I was 7 and the fact that my boyfriend’s dad gave me a stun gun (40,000 volts FTW!), but I don’t fear being attacked by strangers. I do, however, fear being attacked by the guys I know, because those are the ones who have abused me, not backed off, and raped me. Those are the ones I fear.

  77. I’ve lived in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan and in Toronto, Ontario. I’ve (very) occasionally been cat called or hit on in public, but I’ve never had a problem with someone failing to fuck off after being told to do so. I was attacked once in Ann Arbor, but there was no interaction before the guy jumped me from behind (I fought him off). Also, I’ve had to deal with persistent beggars in both Detroit and Toronto, but that’s not sexual. It happens to men, too – more often, as far as I can tell.

  78. Can’t remember it happening to me, no. Something like it may have, but it wasn’t annoying or scary enough that I remember an episode. I’m 26 and live in Scandinavia (I lived in Canada (AB) before if you’re counting countries).

  79. Never, no street harassment, no attempts at conversation on public transport, when I’m alone in a hotel bar, nothing …I live in a mid-size city and don’t use public transport here. But I travel regularly to Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco, use public transport and/or taxis and will usually end my day with a drink the lobby bar of whatever hotel I’m staying at. I go to Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey a few weeks each year and use public transport extensively and have never experienced harassment. I just spent a week in London, same thing, no issues with public transport, spent lots of time walking, dining along. The majority of my traveling is solo…when I have travelled with other women, I can see that they have an entirely different experience. I’m not sure what makes me invisible, but I am grateful for it.

  80. If I actually get assertive and tell a man in plain English that I am not interested in talking to them, I have never had a guy push it any further. They might make some comment like ‘jeez, I was only trying to be friendly’, but they have always left me alone after a direct request.

    I have had men ignore the subtle signs (like the fact that I’m trying to read a book) on numerous occasions. That said, people are not always that great at reading body language. I can think of plenty of times where I’ve had women ignore the subtle signs as well. (I’m not talking about women hitting on me but they might try to make conversation on an aeroplane or long train ride, for example).

    The thing is, I don’t like being that direct. It makes me feel rude and unfriendly. Usually the person is NOT making me feel unsafe, it’s just that I would rather be doing something else.

    It would be great if people could read my verbal and non-verbal cues and react accordingly, but it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I’ll give them the time of day out of politeness and sometimes I’ll be assertive and make it plain that I don’t want to talk to them.

    Thankfully, no one has ever crossed the boundaries. If I do talk to them, that’s all that’s happened. And if I don’t talk to them, that’s all that’s happened.

  81. Sorry, I guess you’ll have to merge the comments to make it scientific… but I forgot to answer the age and where I live.

    I am 33. I live in San Francisco. I grew up in Sydney, Australia and lived 5 years in London, UK. I’ve travelled extensively, not always with a male companion, in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North and Central America and the Caribbean.

  82. I am 30 years old. I live in Tulsa, OK. And I do not get hit on by men who do not know me. I do not get hit on by men who do know. I simply don’t get hit on.

    I am fat, so its quite possible that is the reason. Or it could be my personality – I’ve been told I am aloof and stoic. Does wonders for my self esteem, let me tell you.

    So yea, I’m apparently in the growing minority here.

  83. Breaking the rule, but I hope it will be allowed.

    I am a man who, while at a bar enjoying a drink, had another man constantly try to hit on me and who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Not only was he continue to come on to me after I politely told him that I was not interested, but he did so in a very vulgar manner, telling me exactly what he wanted to do to me.

    And this wasn’t a gay bar, it was a regular local sports bar.

    And it wasn’t my first time being hit on by another man. I had previously been hit on when I was out and it was done in a very polite and flattering way.

    So, while I cannot claim to understand what it feels like to be a woman in such an environment, I have gotten a taste and it wasn’t pleasant.

  84. I find this post very interesting, as I’ve often been dismayed to read about other people’s experiences here, and have wondered why my own life has thus far been free of such incidents. Combination of privilege and luck, I suppose. I’m pleased to find I’m not the only one not to have suffered though…it makes me feel a bit better about society as a whole, and it is paradoxically reassuring to find a lack of unwanted attention is not that unusual. (There’s an occasional vague feeling that not being pestered equals a failure to uphold traditional beauty/femininity, even though I realise that judging my own value by the amount of harrassment received is totally idiotic.)

    I’m 28 and grew up in Sydney (have noticed a couple of Sydneysiders/other Aussies posting on this thread – is there a connection?) and have lived in Poland, the UK, and now Germany.

  85. This hasn’t happened to me as far as I know. The only thing close had to be a mentally challenged man who didn’t understand boundaries, which wasn’t his fault and I tried to avoid.

    I imagine my reluctance to go out in public has a bit to do with it. Being an introvert on the extreme side of the scale can be a bastard.

  86. With the exception of one scary experience I have never had guys attempt to force themselves on me in any way (socially, physically) after I’ve told them to back off/left an area/sent non-verbal signals that I was not interested. I do not have a threatening face/don’t F with me attitude in any way shape or form–seriously, though I’m 20, I look like a 14 year old (which may be why they back off?) and I’m rather passive. I do, however, make sure that I am always aware of my environment and options. Not seeming afraid appears to help–though, honestly, I am aware of “what could happen if…” all the time.

    I live/go to school in PA, but have spent time in NYC and Rome.

  87. This happens to me a lot, socially. My take on it is that I’m just too damn nice.

    I’m 43, and I live in Corvallis, Oregon

  88. I am 22 years old, and from Auckland, New Zealand. I don’t think it has ever happened to me (ie. telling a guy to ‘back off’ and him ignoring it) – although I don’t think I should ever have to tell a guy to back off from the sexual harassment. I have been sexually harrassed & felt embarrassed, angry and intimidated (usually by some guy/s cat-calling as I walk past them). The sexual harrassment has been quick, no guy has followed me – so I haven’t needed to tell any of them to “back off”.

    I have been sexually harrassed and intimidated, but I am a shy person, so telling somebody to “back off” would be my very last resort. I don’t want to escalate the situation or make the guy angry. I will try to quietly get out of an awkward/sexual-harrassment situation if I can. Most of the times that I have been sexually harrassed have been by a group of guys that I was walking past. The harrassment would make me angry but it was over quickly, I didn’t need to tell them to “back off”. I have never been followed, stalked, grabbed or sexually assaulted.

    At my first school ball one guy (a stranger) tried to intimidate me sexually, getting into my personal space. I turned and left that situation immediately. I didn’t say anything to him.

    Another time a bus was crowded so I ended up sitting on the back seat, squashed next to two really drunk guys. One of them asked for my phone number and address. He shook my hand then didn’t want to let go. The guys were friendly and I didn’t mind talking to them (they were really drunk but quite friendly). I didn’t tell them to back off, but I was a bit uncomfortable/scared – I didn’t know if one of the guys would try to kiss me or something . I felt relieved when I could get off the bus.

  89. This has not actually happened to me. However, there are a few caveats:

    1) I used to be a man.
    2) I’ve only been a woman for four months, so there hasn’t been a lot of time.
    3) I’m 5’10” and wider in the shoulders than most men here.
    4) I dress in a sinister fashion. That probably helps.
    5) I have a lot of practice at staring men down. See 1).
    6) Most of the men I meet are not a physical threat to me while they’re unarmed and on their own.

    So, not so much respected my boundaries as respected my violent capabilities.

    I live in the UK. I’m 29.

  90. I am a 29 yr old female in Dallas, TX. I have never had someone try to re-insert themselves into my space after being told that I was not interested, but I am loud and confrontational in the quiet and largely feminist Goth subculture. And I don’t go to clubs where the culture is heteronormative without at least two male friends with me.

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