I was Sexually Harassed on the Street and No One Did Anything About it, Including Me


September 9, 2013 by gabnormal

Sunday, I took the train into South Philadelphia to a beer garden on Broad Street, in the center of the University of the Arts campus.

It’s a nice area of the city, often generously populated with students, teachers, and other suit-and-ties. It’s a very low crime area that many people feel safe walking around even in the dead of night, which I have been known to do.

In front of the beer garden is a sign giving some info about the place, what it’s about and what the hours are. I was standing reading the sign with my back to the street, and checking my phone to see when my friends would be arriving.

As I was doing this, I heard someone yelling to my right. It wasn’t panicked yelling, just normal yelling and I disregarded it since I was in the city and stuff like this is common and usually nothing but a minor disturbance.

The yelling got closer and I turned to see a tall black man, about 6’5″, slight build, shoulder length dreadlocks. He was wearing black combat boots, grey camouflage pants, a red shirt and black vest. I noticed that he had his tongue pierced, and I noticed that he was yelling at me.

As I realized what he was yelling, he also forced himself on me. As in, walked straight into me and pushed his body onto mine.

I’m 5’3″, 140 lbs, white, currently have blonde hair with some fading blue streaks running through it. I was wearing white shorts and a black ripped t-shirt, black flip flops and a small black, cross body purse.

This is when I realized exactly what he was saying and why it would have such an impact on my day.

His words, as I remember, were “I’m gonna grab you right here and nobody’s going to do anything about it.” He repeated his mantra over, and over, and over.

As he pushed his body onto mine he also grabbed me at the hips, right above my belt, and grinded on me, which is when I finally realized what was happening. I had been so taken off guard that I couldn’t even think of what to say to make this stop sooner rather than later.

I shoved him off me and yelled “Get off of me, thanks.” As I did this he simply kept walking, yelling his same mantra as when he came, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened and this was just a usual Sunday activity to partake in at 2:30 in the afternoon.

“I’m gonna grab you right here and nobody’s going to do anything about it.”

I travel into highly populated cities relatively often. I enjoy going out on weekends for nights at different bars in the city and I often get hit on, or cat called, while I’m out. Even if it’s mid afternoon and I’m walking to a work meeting it’s usual for me to get at least one or two guys saying something to me that is in the form of “you’re hot, I’m going to hit on you in the least polite way possible.”

I’m used to this. It has happened so often to the point that when I walk down Broad or Market street and I don’t get cat called it’s a very delightful surprise.

Don’t get it twisted, I’m not being conceited. I personally think I’m pretty weird lookin’, and often wonder why I get so much attention, but since it happens so frequently I’ve come to accept the fact that although I don’t like my appearance, many (not all) others do.

Out of all the crazy things I’ve had said to me, the gestures and grunts (yes, grunts), I have never, in my two-decades-plus, ever had something like this happen to me. Not once have I had a man grab me like that on the street, much less announce to all ears present that nobody was going to do anything about it.

I think that’s what bothers me the most about this. The fact that he’s right, no one is going to do anything about this. Despite the fact that this was a non-violent, alpha-male gesture of masculinity and entitlement, it was still sexual harassment. It still is sexual harassment. And it will stand in time as sexual harassment.

I don’t even understand the point of this guys actions. The only thing that I can assume is that he feels the need to assert his masculinity onto those he sees as victims, those who are weaker than him who he knows he can dominate, impose and strike fear into. I’m over a foot shorter than him and was standing by myself, in essence I was the perfect target.

There is nothing I can do. Even if I had called the police, he was long gone before I could even get on the phone. Besides that, since I wasn’t physically harmed the police wouldn’t regard my complaint as anything to really worry about.

I have always been an anti-sexual harassment/assault/rape activist. It’s part of what I have always stood for. Today I got a small taste of what I’ve been fighting against, and it has only strengthened my resolve to continue fighting until my dying breath. No woman, of any race, age, religion or other identifying demographic, should ever have to go through, or feel the way that I did today.

2 thoughts on “I was Sexually Harassed on the Street and No One Did Anything About it, Including Me

  1. I’m sorry that you had to go through this. Street harassment is so obnoxious and frightening and offensive. I have to say I disagree though that it was a “non-violent” act. I think anytime some random on the street can walk up to you and PHYSICALLY harass you –grabbing your hips, grinding on you — that is a violent act. He destroyed any sense of personal space you had, and I think more people need to start seeing street harassment as an act of violence, not just “a compliment”.

    • gabnormal says:

      Thank you so much for understanding and validating the way I felt. I’ve been known to second-guess myself and wonder if I’m overreacting a lot of the time, and although I know that what he did was a violation of my space, since it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened I felt as though I was complaining too much.

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