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New submission from Sophie
Like many women I have experienced many cases of street assault; from hissed sexual comments to having my usual home changed by the few of an assault in the alley way I live near. So I will include one where I didn’t react but wished I had, and one where I told the man off.
The first incident I was 16 getting the overground train to my boyfriends. I got off the crowded central line train, along with lots of other people, including the middle aged man who was sat opposite me; I had been reading the while journey so hadn’t looked at anyone on my carriage.
I lined up to get my ticket when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see a semi familiar face, the man from the train. His first question to me was “where are you going?” I answered honestly, saying I was going to my boyfriends before turning round and ignoring him. He then continued to ask me questions, where I live, what stop I got on at, what book was I reading etc.
He sighed and asked me whether I realised he got off the train esspecially to talk to me. As though I should be flattered.
I felt very worried that he would hear the destination when I told the person at the counter and copy me, but I ordered my ticket and rushed to the train, gettng on the first carriage and walking through to the front.
At the time it had only been a few months since I had been for fully penetrated by a male friend so I was very frightened of men, and always felt on the verge of tears if one engaged me in conversation.
The most recent street harrassment was also the time I gave him a piece of my mind. I had a horrible cold and was wrapped up in my dads huge puffa jacket.I was getting my car MOTd, the mechanic was popping into the office to print out my certificate when an (assumed) employee started to talk to me about my car, asking if I liked the make, how long I’d had it etc.
I answered his questions, seeing as they were about my car. His questions then started being about whether I was married, did I want children, where did I usually go on Friday nights. All of which i didnt answer, except a few nos about marriage and kids. It hit me that he didn’t actually work here specifically but on the industrial estate the garage was on.
I told him the questions he was asking me weren’t things I would tell a complete stranger. I told him I shouldnt have to be married to justify why I feel uncomfortable with his questions. I told him that just because we happen to be in a garage doesn’t mean he has the right to fire very personal questions at me.
He looked offended and told me that I could have just said his questions were too rude. He then grinned and said I was obviously the type of girl who liked “making” (seriously) sex with men rather than settling down and having kids.
At this point I just walked through the unfamiliar garage to try and get my certificate and leave as quickly as possible.
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