Sexual harassment and especially personal stories of sexual harassment have been doing the rounds in the blogosphere lately and so I thought I’d add my own voice to the chorus. In many ways I’ve been very lucky; I’ve never really had a really bad experience, just a bunch of kind of scary and a pack of annoying ones.
The first one that wasn’t just general creepy leering (which happens quite a lot even now that I’m old and fat) that I remember was when I was in high-school and headed for my karate practice (walking from the dressing room to the dojo). I was, of course, wearing a full gi, no makeup and my hair was held out of my eyes by a ponytail. A random guy that I don’t remember seeing before or since from the group before ours was going the opposite direction and on his way asked if I’d go to the showers with him.
The grossest is a toss-up between my former boss, a guy at a club who had for some reason decided that me and a friend owed him our attention and a former teacher. Again I’ve been lucky here; I had a friend in junior high who was once waiting at the bus-stop when a random guy just passing by started jerking off behind her at the glass.
The former boss is Mr. Rogers when you first meet him but he had/has a hobby; he likes to take up-skirt and cleavage photos pretty much everywhere where he goes and alcohol is consumed. He and a single friend then like to trade and grade these photos. The single friend also like to shoot covert videos of on-night stands and he shared those as well. And guess who shared them with the boys at work?
Then there’s the guy at the club. We were waiting for a gig to start, some Finnish band I can’t remember which. My friend and I pretty much lived at that club when were 20-something because they had great bands and we liked the music. So anyway, this guy came over and tried to hit on us and we were not interested. He just would not take the hint or no for an answer. Despite absolutely no encouragement, he kept putting his hands on my hips and shoulders. Even after I told him to take his hands off me. Finally, after a semi-accidental elbow to the ribs he finally got the message. But before he left, he landed a long, slimy kiss on my bare shoulder saying that it was revenge for the way we treated him.
Then there’s the former teacher who, during the first week of school called me sometime after I had gone to sleep. He wanted to tell me that I had a sweet ass and share with me how he kept placing himself behind me so he could stare at it and wouldn’t I want to come join him and the boys at the bar they were at.
The scariest that I remember off the top of my head is the time I was coming home in the middle of the day and by coincidence so was a neighbor, an older drunk guy quite a bit bigger than I am. I wanted to be nice so I held the door for him. He responded, not by thanking, but by asking if I’d offer him sex. I said no thanks but he kept nagging on about why and just this once and so on. He called the elevator down and since I had absolutely no intention of getting into a closed space roughly the size of a square meter with him I decided to walk up eight flights of stairs. He was hammered enough that he wouldn’t be able to follow me that way. He kept talking to me but the stairway gets a monster echo and I was listening to an audio book so he got drowned out pretty fast. I was pretty scared that he’d get there before me and either wouldn’t let me get home or would follow me up. Luckily I passed his floor before he got to it. He apparently felt himself jilted though because he shouted a torrent of something angry that I couldn’t make out. There just was no way of mistaking the tone.
Then there’s the more humdrum stuff of men who simply insinuate themselves into my company asking for details that I don’t want to give out to random guys on the street and not taking no for an answer and the general leering.
Like I said, I’ve been very lucky. Most women aren’t so lucky. But every woman I know has at least one or more of these stories, most have several. I’m not saying that all men do this, far from it.