real life

"He pushed himself into my bum." 7 women share what happened when they called a man out.

This post deals with sexual harassment and might be triggering for some readers. 

A few weeks ago, my friend frantically texted me.

She, a 19-year-old girl, was taking a bus home from university in peak hour when a man sitting opposite her pulled out his penis and started masturbating.

Once she noticed, he placed a hat over his crotch and spent the rest of the ride continuing to touch himself, all the while staring at her.

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Video by Mamamia

“Emma, what do I do?” she messaged me.

“Ask him very loudly what he’s doing with his hand under his hat,” I wrote back knowing that my friend, Lauren, would absolutely not feel comfortable saying that.

We spent the next fifteen minutes deliberating on how to react. What are you to do in that situation?

We went back and forth on the pros and cons of speaking up to him. “He’d probably be embarrassed, he doesn’t think you’ll call him out,” was my argument. But the ‘what ifs’ were too risky to ignore.

Eventually, we decided that when she was getting off the bus she should very deliberately take a photo of him and alert the bus driver.

Only, he tried to follow her off the bus. So she let him off and stayed past her stop to avoid being stuck with him, no longer in the comfort of the city, but near her suburban home.

What appalled my friend and I most about this situation was the thought that this was probably not the first time he had done such a thing.

As women, we are conditioned to keep quiet when a man makes us uncomfortable. But what happens when we don’t? I asked the Mamamia community exactly what they said to call a man out for inappropriate behaviour.

Heather

Once, with my hands full of drinks I was carrying back to friends, a guy came up and squeezed my boobs and laughed in my shocked face, with his friends watching and laughing nearby.

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I couldn’t do anything with my hands full and felt helpless and embarrassed but most of all, very angry.

So when I got a spare second, I gave the drinks to my friends went up and found him, still laughing with his friends.

I tapped him on the shoulder and as he turned around, I kicked him as hard as I could in his shin with my Doc Martin boots and gave out a big fake laugh in his face and walked off. He stopped laughing.

Another time while being crushed in the crowd at the bar a guy kept grabbing at me. Again, after I dropped my drinks off to my friends, I went and found him standing with his mates talking. I went up to him and said: “I would hate to be you, knowing the only girls I got to touch all night were ones that were stuck in a crowd and couldn’t escape. You’re revolting!” And walked off.

He and his friends were shocked and he looked very embarrassed.

Polly

It was an absolutely packed tube on the morning commute. I just squeezed in, packed in like sardines and he was standing behind me.

He put his hands on my hips and sort of pushed himself into my bum but it was so packed and people were lurching around, I thought it must have been an accident so didn’t even turn around.

Then he did it again and it was much more definite and deliberate.

We’d just pulled into a stop and a few people got off, so I was able to move away (only to the opposite door) and I screamed, “I am going to f*cking report you at the next stop”.

He just stared at me, he seemed a bit shaken that he was being screamed at. My guess would be he had done it before and women had been too scared to say anything. No one even reacted. Including a woman who I made direct, pleading eye contact with.

He then got off at the next stop and I stayed on.

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Asten

I was in a team meeting for a large organisation and we were talking about vehicle checks. One of the men said: “Girls, do you know how to check the oil?” and my female coworker said: “I didn’t realise you needed a penis in order to check the oil.”

She got in trouble from HR for saying this in a team meeting, but it was awesome.

Tamara

Every morning on my walk to work I go past a cafe and see these two very loud, shabby businessmen in their 50s or 60s having coffee. And every time, I feel their eyes on me as I walk past.

Last month, I watched as a woman went past them in a tight purple dress. They stopped talking, turned to fixate on her arse, and watched her with their tongues more or less hanging out of their mouths. One of them said something revolting about her bum.

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It was the most overt perve and this time I just felt like I needed to say something. So as I approached their table I looked straight at them and said, “Really?

They both looked so affronted – firstly that I’d noticed and secondly that I’d called them out for their behaviour. Without waiting for a response, I kept on walking – and I was on a bit of a high for the rest of the day. I felt really powerful in that moment.

I still see them most mornings and I know they recognise me.

Allegra

A man was being abusive to a female TransLink worker at my local stop.

It looked to be escalating and he began yelling whilst moving closer to her.

I was astounded that everyone put their heads down and kept walking, so I went and stood next to her and stared him down.

He asked what I was doing and I said I was just waiting for my train. He mumbled profanities and walked off.

The poor woman was shaken and thanked me. I didn’t do anything aside from stand next to her but it made a difference.

Tracy

My boss, a 60-year-old lawyer, made a comment about the Harvey Weinstein victims, saying something along the lines of: “What were they doing in his hotel room anyway – everyone knows the casting couch is as old as the hills?”

Without thinking, I snapped: “It’s men like you that are part of the problem. Just because some women may be willing to sleep their way to the top doesn’t mean all women should expect to be raped.”

For months after, he made snide comments about the need to be politically correct around me, including when he made a joke about a disabled person.

One day he even sat me and my female colleague down and said: “I’ll need one of you to do this job interview with me as it’s not a good idea for me to be alone in a room with a young woman these days”.

Totally oblivious to the weight of his words.

Heather

I caught a man looking into the changing rooms in Melbourne at a clothing store for tweens and teens.

I said to him loud enough for everyone to hear, “Are you sneaking a peek at young ladies getting changed?” Then I told him that what he was doing was illegal, called him a pervert, and he fled.

I reported him to shop staff and centre management.

Have you ever told a man off for doing or saying something inappropriate? Comment below!

The feature images used are stock from Getty.

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