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My story comes in a ripple of three public harassment instances.
On my day off last Thursday afternoon, I ventured up to Shoppers World Plaza located in the East end of Toronto at Victoria Park and Danforth Ave. I just needed to run a few errands.
As I exited the Metro grocery store on my first stop, a middle aged man looked me up and down. Holding his glare as I walked passed him he started yelling obscenities. My blood boiled at the fact that I can’t even go on a quick mid-afternoon grocery run free of this b.s. However, I ignored it and ventured into store number two: Shoppers Drug Mart.
Sadly, after leaving the drug store, a second man gave me the head-to-toe eye examination studying my nearly 6′ tall figure, reducing me from a human being to a piece of flesh ripe for (his) consumption. This man waited until I passed to start howling… ‘hey, hey, bebe, bebe’ at me.
This was drawing unwanted attention and naturally it was embarrassing. I wanted to yell back at him…’hey, what the heck is your problem?’ What have I done to cause you to be so passive aggressive towards me huh? Perhaps my presence only re-enforces his insecurity that attractive women are unattainable, who knows.
I couldn’t help but think what his female family members would say if they caught him behaving in such a vulgar way towards a young woman who is a complete stranger to him.
On my way to the last stop I walked by the middle entrance underneath the big red Target sign only to encounter a man standing and leering at me while holding the door wide open and motioning for me to walk through it. Just to be polite I smiled and nodded my head to signal that it wasn’t my intention to enter the mall. This prompted him to begin mumbling something under his alcohol stenched breath.
I have no idea what he was saying and by the time I got to the Bulk Barn, my last stop, I felt like I’d just climbed a mountain, so I no longer had a care left in me.
NOTE: The rather hostile environment surrounding this plaza seems to make it ripe for males to publicly harass women and not be held accountable for their behaviour. My first cat call occurred at this same plaza when I was walking home from school at 13 years old. I’m now in my early thirties and it’s time that this deplorable behaviour is called out. I shudder to think what young children and adolescents have to endure right under the public nose.
This would likely be a good spot to hold some sort of an awareness campaign, non? If anyone has any ideas might be interested in participating.
Submitted By: Liz
Location: Victoria Park and Danforth (Shoppers World Plaza)
Just copying and pasting the status I posted about the incident for the amusement of my Facebook friends. I was left mildly annoyed but also amused, and nothing in the way of intimidated (but this largely had to do with the time of day and presence of other commuters around that made me feel quite safe).
Subject: Adventures of an unaccompanied, young woman at Kennedy Station on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The moral of this story: If you refuse to entertain unwanted, obnoxiously entitled male attention from TTC strangers, you must be an unlovable devil worshipper.
Me: *Emerges from the subway around 1pm today to take a seat between a couple of men on the bench by the 86 platform, water bottle and novel in hand.
Leery man to the right: Excuse me, I just finished my patty right in time and am looking to quench my spice induced thirst! My hand is cupped and ready!
Me: *Not amused* ..I am sure there is water you can get inside.
Leery man: Oh, I was just trying to tickle your funny bone but I guess it isn’t working today.
Me: *Suggestive silence and opens book*
Leery man: What’s that you’re reading? Fiction?
Me: [UGGGGHH leave me aloneeee] ..Margaret Atwood.
Leery man: Oh, have you heard of BMV? *tangent about throwing away lots of books, or something*
Leery man: I’m just on my way going home to my love. Have you ever been in love?
Me: [More uncomfy silence; I roll my eyes while Leery Man asks the question a couple of times. I try to give off as much passive aggressive body language as possible but Leery Man is not phased. I am forced to spell it out.] ACTUALLY I’m not really interested in talking to you.
Leery Man: [on the offensive] Oh, I guess you just have no one in your life that loves you?
Me: [lols and puts earphones in]
Leery-turned-indignant man: Maybe the devil loves you. [Stands up angrily to walk off] Where’s my bus? I don’t want to sit beside a devil-sent!
#feministsaysfuckoff #TTC #commuterlife #Toronto
Submitted By: Alison
Location: Kennedy Subway Station
Last spring, while subwaying to my co-op placement, a man got onto the subway and since there were only a few people on the subway, I had my bag on the seat. The man hovered over where I was sitting, waiting for me to move my bag. Me being naive and too friendly moved my bag, without suspicion. I guess I should have realized there that a 30- something man wanting to sit beside a 16- year-old girl was wrong, but I just naturally thought he liked sitting at the back too. Not far into the ride he started asking me questions, like what tea I was drinking, and I replied thinking it was just commuter small talk. Then he started asking me where I was going, why was I alone, did I have a boyfriend, and why wasn’t he here with me. Then I realized he was beyond drunk at 1pm and began getting scared. I finally lost it when he kept asking me after I was clearly ignoring him, “Don’t you want a man in your life, like me?” and “I’m not trying to hit on you but you’re such a good girl,” over and over again. I told him he was making me very uncomfortable and continued to ignore him. As soon as my stop came I got away as fast as I could as I was so scared he was going to follow me. I really regret not getting up and moving as soon as he walked in.
Submitted By: Lauren
Location: Bloor -Danforth Subway line
On my way to the subway after work, as I was passing by Rexall at the corner of Church and Wellesley, a man approached me. He got right up in my face, maybe an inch away and said, “Kiss me, Kiss me”.
It all happened so fast, I could not figure out an escape or a rebuttal besides to tilt my head away and keep walking.
All I could do was cry, though I was not touched. I’ve never felt worse in my entire life.
Submitted By: Diane
Location: Church and Wellesley
I was sexually harassed on a Go Transit bus to Toronto. One of the scariest experiences of my life. Luckily, I got away from the harasser and was able to snap a picture of him. He touched me while I was sleeping and I woke up right away and changed seats. Please keep your eyes open and stay safe!
Submitted By: Anonymous
Location: Go Transit Bus to Toronto
I was on the York University campus one evening, where I attend university, walking from a TTC bus through a parking lot to get to a car I had rented for the evening. I was walking with a friend, another female. As we were walking, I happen to look up and make unintentional eye contact with a male walking toward me. He says, “Hey!” I’m caught off guard. I look back to see if I know him, he’s still staring at me and yells, “Can I have your number?” My friend asks, “Do you know him?” I say “No..” He yells again, “Can I have your number?” I call back, “Go to hell!” He replies, “Hell? More like go to heaven, mmm!” I keep walking, he keeps yelling for my number and I yell back one last time, “Leave me alone!”
He’s laughing. Still yelling for my number. I was completely, fully rattled. I’m at my university, my school, a place where I should feel safe. And suddenly I don’t.
I’d be lying if I said I felt 100% safe on the campus before then; I’m always looking over my shoulder if I walk anywhere alone at night.
Now, though, I’m never going to walk anywhere alone. Because if someone had the nerve to do that while I was with a friend, I shudder to think about what they’d do if I was by myself.
And, to discard the whole, “what were you wearing?” question, I was totally covered by a winter coat. Neck to mid thigh.
Submitted By: Elizabeth
Location: York University campus
Eight years ago I groped a woman. We were talking and I spanked her on the butt playfully… She grabbed my hand away and told me off.
Her strong reaction made me re-think my actions. If she had not spoken up I might have done it again, but I have not done this since. What can I do to help?
Submitted By: N. H.
Location: Yonge and Bloor
Yesterday, outside the Food Basics at Parliament and Wellesley, my girlfriend was walking home and some creepy stranger tried to lure her into his apartment, and was very pushy about it and followed her on her way home even after she told him no, and to leave her alone, a bunch of times. Eventually she got rid of him, but he was very determined to get her into his home, and thought that calling her beautiful and alleging that he was a “good guy” would pursuade her. Creep city.
Submitted By: Jessica
Location: Parliament and Wellesley