real life

"I'm 18 and am sexually harassed on my commute everyday. It's not flattering, it's scary."

I’m an 18-year-old woman. I’m studying teaching in hopes to be an art teacher in the next few years.

I go to uni three times a week, and regularly visit my boyfriend in the city. Because of this, I spend lots of my time commuting from one place to another and am more often than not among the general public.

I was 15 when I had my first encounter with sexual harassment.

Before attending university, I worked as a ‘checkout chick’ at a supermarket for a few years and as a result, often interacted with people I had never met. Pretty standard, right?

A few weeks into my new exciting job, two men came through my register, aged between 50 and 55. Once I began scanning their items, one of the men said to me, “Typical of my friend to choose the sexiest checkout chick to go to.”

He said it as though he thought it would flatter me. I was 15.

Ever wondered what it’d be like for a man to live a day as a woman? Check out many of the things we go through, including sexual harassment, below. Post continues after video.

Video by MWN

A few weeks later, I was assisting an elderly man with his groceries before we closed for the night. This meant I had to manually open the automatic doors at work to get in and out. While helping him out of the shop, he looked back at me and said, “Wow, I wish I could take you home with me, I’d make you one happy girl.”

This man was old enough to be my grandfather. I struggled to process the sheer filth his comment possessed as I quickly made my way back inside to safety.

Three years on from my first encounter with sexual harassment, I now experience it on a new level everyday on my commute.

It’s no longer snide remarks that make my skin crawl and heart sink.

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It’s no longer catching people staring and having them look away.

It’s no longer receiving greasy smiles from older men while trying to remain inconspicuous.

Now, it’s being chased down by men and having them call me all of these encapsulating names, only to yell and spit at me when I tell them I’m not interested in them.

Now, it’s old men on public transport grabbing themselves while telling me I arouse them.

Now, it’s men slowing down in their cars while I walk to the bus stop to cat-call me and slur sexual implications.

This is not flattering, this is f*cking scary.

Mamamia Out Loud discuss wolf whistling and whether it’s ever flattering below. Post continues after audio. 

Because of this, I subconsciously have started dressing down, wearing baggier clothes so men can’t comment on the shape of my body.

I keep my eyes on the path ahead of me so as to avoid eye contact with strangers not just looking at me, but leering at me. I notice my chest tighten and palms begin to sweat as I walk through or past groups of men.

It’s human nature to look at attractive people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it should not be human nature to put others in a position where they feel helpless, where they feel like a literal piece of meat put there for other people’s consumption.

I am not a religious woman, but I pray my little sisters will never have to experience this. I pray my fellow women will not have to relentlessly worry about this, to the point of inducing severe anxiety when simply carrying out their day.

We need to talk about this and not brush it under the rug, and deem it as “boys just being boys”.

Because boys being boys should not and does not mean making women feel like prey.

This story was originally published by Elise Atkins as a Facebook post, and was republished here with full permission.

Have you experienced sexual harassment in your daily life? Tell us in the comments below.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual harassment or is struggling for any other reason, please seek professional help and contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

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