19 Ways I Wish I'd Responded Differently To Being Sexually Harassed On The Street

19 Ways I Wish I'd Responded Differently To Being Sexually Harassed On The Street

When I was sexually harassed I didn't know what to say. But I wish I'd said these things instead.
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Last week I was walking down the street on my way back to the car after finding out that the ice cream place I'd been looking forward to visiting was closed for the day. I was wearing a pair of shorts, flip-flops, and a sweater over my tank top since I'd enjoyed a nice day by myself at the beach before the weather started to drop.

When I stepped onto the sidewalk, I could sense this rowdy group of guys behind me. Call it a sixth sense that all women have but I knew what was about to happen. When we started out they were about 20 feet behind me but as I reached the corner to push the button to cross the street, an arm reached out and pressed it as well.

A guy, maybe 5 years older than me and looking kind enough, said hi. Unwilling to engage in further conversation but having been given no reason to be rude, I said hi back. That's when it took a turn for the worse.

With his buddies standing a few feet off, this guy told me he had a present for me (a python to be exact). He put his arm around my shoulder, told me I'd make beautiful babies, and ignored me when I told him I wasn't interested.

When I told him I had a boyfriend (as all girls in this situation are instructed to do), he couldn't be less bothered, throwing back a careless "Well, I don't see him here, do you?" before continuing to harass me. When I was finally able to cross the street and turned away from him to go to my car he told me to watch out before some guy raped me.

The whole situation left me shaken and a bit on-edge, anxious to get home, angry, but not feeling particularly unsafe. Despite the threatening nature of this guy (I can't quite bring myself to call him a man)'s comments, I didn't feel that his words had any weight behind them that made me feel the need to be afraid.

But the emotion I wasn't expecting was disappointment, not only with him but with myself. I was disappointed at how I'd handled the situation and, like anytime one gets some perspective on a conversation hours later, I began to think of quippy remarks after the interaction was over. So here they are: here are the 19 ways I wish I'd responded differently to the guy who harassed me on the street.

1. Told him to fuck off

There would've been nothing more satisfying than telling this guy off and I'm sad I didn't


2. Told him I was gay even though I'm not

But then his next taunt would be telling me that we should have a threesome or that he could make me straight and then we'd just be right back where we started


3. Called out his friends

What sort of shitty people stand by while their friend harasses someone. I wish I'd turned to them and held them accountable to #CheckYourBoys


4. Pushed him

If I thought that I could push or shove him and still ensure my safety, to be positive he wouldn't hurt me back, I would have. Being as it is though, that's a risk too big to realistically take

5. Asked him if he'd ever had luck with this approach

I'd be willing to bet no woman has ever started the story of how she met her boyfriend by saying "He told me I had nice tits while I was walking down the sidewalk and it's been true love ever since"


6. Give him a fake number

1-800-FUCK-YOU (382-5968)

7. Ask for his name

Maybe if he knows I know who he is there'll be some level of accountability here

8. Look to someone nearby for help

It was 4 pm on a Monday, people were definitely around and saw what was going on. I could have asked one of them to intervene so it wasn't me against 4 guys


9. Walked away until the light changed

I could have walked to the next block or turned around to walk away until they crossed the street. But what're the odds they follow me again?

10. Waited for someone else to walk with me

Like I said, there were people around. I could've lingered to wait for the next group of people and walked near them. Larger groups tend to be safer. Why do you think women all go to the bathroom together?


11. Taken his picture

Whether I'd do anything with it after or not, I don't know. But by taking his picture hopefully I'd be able to invoke some sort of fear in him that actions have consequences.


12. Pulled out a statistic

This whole conversation on the corner could've turned into me schooling this boy on feminism, rape culture, and violence against women. Then the only thing he would've been calling me would've been "feminazi" and maybe the whole thing could've been avoided.


13. Called a friend or my "boyfriend"

Maybe if I was talking on my phone he would've left me alone

14. Been sarcastic

"Oh yes baby give it to me I've been waiting my whole life for you I can't believe I've found you let's get married and have 4 kids" would have probably been sufficient in scaring him away

15. Asked him about his mother

"Does your mother know you talk to women this way?" "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?"

Maybe there's one woman in this guy's life he has the slightest bit of respect for.


16. Filmed a video

But who am I kidding, sharing a video of this would be like airing a premiere to a film that every woman has already seen.


17. Threatened to use the emergency response on my phone

"I can have the cops here in minutes if you don't shut up and leave me alone"

18. Said nothing

Silence is golden? Maybe if I'd just stared straight ahead from the start he would've gotten bored.

19. Agreed with him

"You'd make beautiful babies" "I know I would" Nothing makes douchebag guys more insecure than women that're aware of their own self-worth


At the end of the day though, I'm safe and that's what matters. While these other responses would've been fun or would've been a better story to tell later, what's most important is that I didn't engage him more than I did and that I left safely. Sass and sarcasm will just have to wait for the next time this inevitably happens.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Social Control

According to Merriam Webster, social control is "the rules and standards of society that circumscribe individual action through the inculcation of conventional sanctions and the imposition of formalized mechanisms." Social norms, rules, laws, and structures within a society are just a few of the methods that keep our society "in-line".

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Informal vs Formal

There are two types of social control. There is informal social control which is enforced by family, peers, teachers, etc. and is often referred to as "socialization". Informal social control refers to values, norms, and belief systems of a society. Then there is formal social control which is enforced by the government through police and military. Formal social control refers to laws of society and topics such as terrorism.

For more information regarding informal and formal social control, check out: Definition of Social Control


Positive Social Control

Positive social control is related to the idea of getting rewarded for good work, rather than be hurt for doing something wrong.

For example, you will be given a raise at work if you prove you deserve it, but you will not be tortured if you don't take that extra step. Socialization is the primary way that social order is kept, and is a perfect example of positive social control. There is also a physical organization to society that keeps everything in harmony. Traffic signals, paved roads, and crosswalks are just a few examples of how physical additions to our everyday lives work together to avoid conflict.

There are many benefits that come along with positive social control as well. Raises, bonuses, and praise are all rewards that come along with following rules and norms.


Negative Social Control

Negative social control is related to the idea of discrimination and/or shame. It uses harsh punishment, torture, pressure, and/or threats to keep the peace and order rather than rewarding good behavior.

For example, Hitler used violence and discrimination to keep the Jews "under control" during the Holocaust.

For more information regarding positive and negative social control, check out: Types of Social Control Formal & Informal, Positive & Negative


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Religious Social Control

People who follow a religion tend to develop morals and behavior patterns based on what their religion preaches. These people will avoid committing crimes, hate-speech, or anything else their religion deems as "sinful" in order to avoid punishment during or after their death. Many people tend to believe that religion was created with the sole purpose to control people and keep the social order, while dedicated followers beg to differ.


Economic Social Control

Economic social control is attainable by controlling production or controlling an entire society through their economics (cutting off food supplies, stealing from the poor, etc.) Richer people and industrialists tend to control the lower class and their consumers through status and money.

Wealth = Power


Political Social Control

Political social control is the most influential type of social control. The government regulates money, sources and supplies, the laws, police forces, and many more which when put all together becomes social control. The government balances every aspect of what creates harmony and peace within a society, protecting the people from anarchy.

For more information regarding examples of social control, check out:: Social Control: Meaning, Types and Unfavourable Effect

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