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New submission from Sarah
Reading these stories, especially from younger girls, made me think about how lucky I am aged 21 never to have experienced such harassment in London. Except of course for the standard comments and catcalls from men when walking down the street alone. And the honked horns that used to form the soundtrack to my daily walk to school, dressed in my uniform. And the guy that called me an ugly bitch for telling him to fuck off when he stood far too close and asked for my number. And the one who whistled at me from his car and then followed me for 3 blocks trying to persuade me to get in, and asking for my number because he was ‘a modelling scout’, obviously. And the bloke who groped my bum as he got off the tube, so that the doors closed before I could say or do a thing about it. And the guy who pressed his erection against me on the central line at rush hour. And the gang of males who surrounded me on the bus at night, commenting that I must be a ‘working girl’ because I was wearing a suit, asking where I was going and loudly speculating upon what I would be doing there. And the ones who screamed ‘golddigger’ at the 14 year old me as I walked down the street with my dad. And all the times I opted for a taxi home because an over-friendly guy was making me uncomfortable and refusing to back off. And countless more ‘minor incidents’ like these.
That’s how I considered such events. Minor. Yes, each left me feeling a little more angry, dirty or sad, a little less confident and a little less safe. But I didn’t get physically harmed, and such incidents pale into insignificance when compared to the experiences of too many of my female friends. Yet I realise now, looking back over 10 years of simply trying to get on with my life, how insidious the effect of this ‘low-level’ harrassment can be. How it can drain your sense of self-worth, make suspicion your default setting, cause your mind to reel with unwelcome ‘what-ifs’ or ‘if-onlys’. Street harassment is such an ingrained part of our lives (and we in the UK are amongst the ‘lucky’ ones)that sometimes it can be difficult to recognise it for what it is. Thank you for this website – it is a wonderful reminder that this is not something we ever should, or can, simply accept.
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