Woman tweets story of harassment and so many others relate
If you’ve spent any time moving through the world as a woman, you’ve probably been harassed. You’ve probably been made to feel unsafe at some point. And you’ve probably felt very, very alone in even a public space.
Nathalie Gordon took to Twitter last week to relay a story of harassment that will probably be familiar to a lot of women.
Let me tell you a story about why men will never understand what it's like to be female.
— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
It starts with her getting approached by a man on a bus.
I was just on the bus on my way to a meeting. A man taps on my knee. I'm listening to music so take my ear phones out.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
He asks me where the bus is going. I tell him what the next station is. He asks me where I'm going.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
I'm polite and tell him I'm going to a meeting. He then asks if I want to go for a drink.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
In that moment I instantly became worried. Again I am polite and say 'no thank you'. I go to put my earphones back in.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
He pulls them from my hand and says 'don't be rude'. I say 'Sorry'. I don't know what to do, I don't want to provoke him.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
Let’s stop here for a moment, shall we? This is an experience many of us have had — that moment when a stranger’s attention moves from awkward, to definitely unwanted, to possibly dangerous. Any woman who’s spent any time traveling on public transportation — or even operating in public in any fashion — has experienced this moment. It’s infuriating in its simplicity, isn’t it? That we can be among a crowd and still be made to feel unsafe in a matter of seconds?
I look out the window but out the corner of my eye I see he is staring at me and has started to rub his crotch.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
Annnd, the moment where the man moves from “threatening” — to actual predator. Gordon gets up for help from the bus driver, because she’s being now openly sexually harassed in public.
I'm horrified and turn to ask him to stop doing it. He laughs at me. I get up and go to the bus driver.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
I tell him that a man is rubbing himself on the bus. The driver, a man, says 'he probably isn't- sit somewhere else'.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
I say 'the man just asked me for a drink and when I said no started to rub himself'. The driver says, 'what do you expect me to do?'— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
Um, kick the passenger that sexually harassing women off the bus, maybe?
I say 'remove him from the bus, call the police- I don't care'. The driver then says to me, 'you're a pretty girl, what do you expect?'— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
“What did you expect?” Gordon breaks it down:
“What I expect is to not be on guard EVERYWHERE I GO. And I know other women are – we’re all scared, all the time.”
There is an unspoken bond that exists between women, because it has to. We know there is safety in numbers, and we look out for each other. It’s almost innate. I take the same train to work every week, and there are three other women who I’ve developed a cordial smile-and-wave relationship with. And I’ve always had these women — well, not exactly these women — but women like them around me on every habitual public transportation route I’ve been on. It’s almost like we know we need to look out for each other — and our silent acknowledging of each other’s existence sends that message — I’ve got your back. We always have to have each other’s backs, because we can’t count on anyone else to. And this shit always happens.
If you ever see me on public transport or anywhere in London and you feel vulnerable, find a way to tell me & I promise I'll stand with you.— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
Women began sharing their stories in solidarity and in response to her original tweet. It’s absolutely devastating to see how many women have stories like this to add to the mix.
Similar has happened to me on a coach, on a train, in a park and on a town bench. Thank you for speaking out ❤️— elie 🐘 (@eliestories) May 5, 2017
Scary. Remember when I was 17 a man on a bus stroking my head and playing with my hair from behind, I was so scared I didn't say anything😩— robyn 🌹 (@_robynq) May 6, 2017
“The stories I’m being told [from women] are harrowing,” Gordon told Upworthy. “There’s a real sense of hopeless when you see these messages en masse.”
Women, you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s not your fault if a man confronts you, harasses you, and makes you feel unsafe. You don’t owe your time or attention to anyone. We owe it to each other to pay attention, to step in, and to provide safety in numbers. We can interact with someone we feel is in danger. We can step in and make our presence known.
Women, we have to have each other’s backs. Because sometimes, no one else will.