Last night I was harassed on the street, all because of my gender. Other women and girls who are reading this will sadly immediately know what I’m talking about, and will understand that it can be one of the most terrifying experiences of your life. Men and boys who read this might have some understanding, but they will never ever experience it to this level.
Last night I was walking with a group of friends through the town. A couple hundred feet behind us, there was a group of rowdy – possibly drunk – boys from my year, aged 16+. They somehow recognised me and started shouting my name, but we all just ignored them. We reached a crossing and while most of them carried up the same road, me and my friend H crossed over and started walking parallel to the rest of our friends on the other side of the road. I still have no clue why we did this and I wish we’d stayed with the rest of our friends.
As we were crossing the road, the boys noticed that H was a guy and although there’s nothing between us, they started to shout horrible things about how I was chasing after him and wanted to ‘pounce on his genitalia’. Yes, those were their exact words. Now at that point H did the worst thing he could do: he sped up in front of me and started to walk away. It made me look like a sad idiot literally chasing after a guy and the boys noticed this and were shouting abuse at me. Then H turned up a side street – the opposite way from which I was going – and My. Heart. Stopped. I was suddenly alone, in the dark on the street while a group of boys shouted abuse at me and there was nothing I could do to stop them. One of them, the ringleader, tried coaxing me over the road to join them and despite the fact I was nearly running, they somehow kept up on the other side of the road. I couldn’t see my other friends, I had no idea where H was or where I was going, all I knew was that I had to get far far away from them.
Eventually they disappeared up a street but I kept running because I was scared they would double back and find me. To a lot of people it might sound like I was overreacting but until you are in the situation where a group of 6 large boys who are twice the height and have ten times the strength of you are harassing you on the street in the dark while you are completely alone, you will have no idea how terrifying it is.
I’d just reached our meeting place when H walk through the door, laughing. H thought it was so funny. I called him a prick and he looked confused, like he didn’t even realise I’d been scared for life. I told him he had no clue what it was like, and that he was a dickhead for leaving me, and then I went and sat in the bathrooms for 10 minutes while I had a breakdown. My heart was racing, my hands were shaking and tears were coursing down my face for what felt like no reason, but all I could think of (and still am thinking of) was how I would cope on Monday at school. All of the boys are in my year, and I’m terrified to go back. Honestly I’d rather shove my fingers down my throat to fake ill than go.
Women who walk alone at night are the bravest people in the world. Women who stick their keys between their fingers in a fist may be terrified, yet they are still resilient. I don’t know if I’ll ever live in a world where I am fearless while walking alone, but maybe this can raise awareness among young men that what they see as ‘just banter’ scares the life out of women. I know that if i reported this to the school or even the police, nothing would come of it. They’d say it was my fault for getting separated from my friends, that it was my fault I was so scared, that ‘boys will be boys’. Everyday sexism still exists in the world, in 2016, whether you want to believe it or not.
I’m sorry for the depressing-ranty post, but I use my blog almost like a therapy session. I’ll be doing more cheerful posts soon, I promise 🙂