A Toronto Transformation

My Wish for my Street Harasser

He grabbed my arm, leaned in, and quietly told me, "I want to fuck you."

Last Thursday, on my way from work to my workout, I was standing on the street corner waiting for the light to change, when a young man sidled up to me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him inch his way into my personal space. I could feel him staring at me as I resolutely directed my gaze straight ahead.

I sensed him trying to catch my eye and set my face to “don’t talk to me” while I willed the traffic light to change quickly so I could book it out of this guy’s reach.

Too late.

He grabbed my arm and as I whipped my head around towards him in alarm, leaned in and quietly told me, “I want to fuck you.”

He looked nervously triumphant as he searched my face for a reaction, an asshole grin on his asshole face.

My face was frozen, a mask of shock, while my brain took a moment to absorb the vile words he’d foisted upon it.

As a woman, of course, I’m used to a certain amount of inappropriate commentary on my body and what strangers might like to do to it being hurled at me on the street, but this, coupled with the fact that he actually touched me, was extreme.

And then came the fury. He had the good sense to begin to back away as my face unfroze. He actually began to jog away, all the while looking back at me when I (bizarrely, as I am quite tiny and nonviolent as a rule) took an aggressive step towards him and hollered “That’s fucking sexual harassment, you disgusting creep!!”

As I turned back to cross the street, I apologized to an older woman standing next to me, who looked shocked by my outburst, since of course, the man had made sure that I was the only one who could hear his vulgar little announcement.

“I normally don’t swear,” I said.

I was still shaking with rage and adrenaline when I arrived at the studio, and it took the entirety of the hour-long class to get my breathing back to normal.

I wish I could think of the perfect thing to say to men who do things like this. The perfect thing that would not only convey what it’s like but make them actually feel all of the horrible feelings that a violation like that brings up.

I wish I had the power to know what reaction men who harass me are trying to get, so that I could be sure to do the exact opposite.

I want the man who said that to me to have to linger in the doorway of the studio after his workout, wondering if he should spend the money on a cab, peering out into the night to make sure no one is lurking outside, waiting to make good on the desire they somehow felt entitled to express to him earlier, waiting to fuck (Sir, I believe you mean rape, since I have given not a hint of consent, you’d like to rape me, let’s not mince words shall we?) him while he tries to walk home.

How do you guys handle situations like this?

Also, have you ever heard of Hollaback? It’s an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to and ending the all-too-common problem of street harassment as well as a place for people to share their stories of harassment and get some support. I dig it.

13 Responses to My Wish for my Street Harasser

  • MARTIN says:

    This is absolutely horrible. Somebody should castrate the cretin before he takes his deplorable actions to the next level. Good for you for standing up for yourself and bless you for apologising for swearing.

    • metamorphocity says:

      Aw, thanks Martin. I’d like to hire someone bigger than him to follow him around and tell him about the unwanted sexual things they’d like to do to him for a day or two.

    • metamorphocity says:

      You know, if it had been darker out or there hadn’t been more people around, that might have been my immediate instinct.

    • metamorphocity says:

      Thanks so much Mollie. It really does suck. Hopefully we can work towards a world where this kind of thing isn’t so common!

  • Dave says:

    It’s so hard to choose a reaction when something unexpected happens. That’s what’s so cowardly about what he did. The response with the most devastating effect may be to look at him completely unfazed and say, “You’re not good enough.” That may cut through to his insecurities.

    • metamorphocity says:

      Cowardly is exactly right. I like the “You’re not good enough” response. Or maybe “Oh sorry, I don’t sleep with men who sexually harrass women in the street.” Though in the moment, it’s definitely hard to think of/control a reaction to that kind of violation. Or it is for me anyway!

    • amber says:

      I like that response too! Though, it may prompt such a creep to respond with something disgusting like, “oh, just let me show you…” ugh.

      Maybe something like… “Unfortunately for you, I don’t fuck losers.”

      ?

  • Mikael says:

    I applaud you for yelling at that creep–who cares if you swore? That is absolutely reprehensible. I vote no words are necessary, but a shot to the groin could do the trick quite well.

    • metamorphocity says:

      Haha. Isn’t it funny that in the midst of my total fury, I still felt worried about being impolite? I’m pretty sure I’d be pretty ineffectual with a kick. It is the kind of thing that makes you want to carry around a taser though.

  • amber says:

    Ugh, that’s awful!

    I work as a dancer at a strip club on the weekends, so I have guys saying things like this to me all the time. Though, it is different because it’s a completely different environment than random strangers on the street.

    I’ve always been uncomfortable with men in general, particularly talking to them or them approaching me, but have never had anything like that happen to me in public/on the street. Well, now that I think of it… I did have a man flash me once… it was in the middle of the night, I was just coming home from work, and parked on the street in front of my building. He walked up to the car, knocked on the window and I ignored him and locked the door… (again, middle of the night, NO one was around!) so he walked around to the front of the car…. my headlights were still on so I could see him clearly, and he just whipped it out! I gave him a disgusted look, shook my head, and drove away! It was disturbing, to say the least. Still, looking back, I feel kind of like how you feel/felt. Enraged, but not sure the proper way to handle such a situation. I like your method better than mine, though 😉

    Glad to have found your blog. You are a good writer.

    xx

    • metamorphocity says:

      Oh man. I don’t even want to imagine the things people would think it was all right to say to you at a strip club!
      I’m so sorry you went through that with that super creepy flasher. It’s bad enough to run into that kind of thing on a subway or whatever, but so much more threatening to be alone at night!

      Thanks for the lovely compliment. I’m glad you stopped by!

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