If you watched the first season of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None you’ll remember the iconic scene that compared the male experience of walking home from a bar, to what women typically go through.
Aziz and his male friend leave the bar and say goodnight to their female friend. They walk one way, she walks the other. On their walk, Aziz and his pal, casually stroll, crack jokes and cut through the park because it’s quicker.
Our female character, meanwhile, tries to stay on well-lit sidewalks and dials “9-1” on her phone, just in case. Men yell out at her from dark corners, and one actually follows her home.
Sadly, Ansari was merely highlighting what is an every day reality for women. When walking home, jogging through a park, or even doing our grocery shopping, we can become a target for abusive, aggressive men, who think it's OK to harass and intimidate us.
In a recent Whisper post, women shared their own terrifying stories of being followed and stalked.
One women was so alarmed when a man started following her home that she 'hid behind a tree in the park for over an hour until he left'.
Another was followed and harassed by three men because she didn't respond to their sexual comments.
When another woman politely declined a date from a stranger, he began to yell at her in the middle of a supermarket. He then "followed me home in his car and sat outside my house for 20 minutes, yelling and screaming."
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"A creepy man just followed me on a walk for about 12 blocks. I ran up to a random house and yelled 'hey mum, I'm home'. I'm still shaken up," wrote another.
As horrifying as these stories are, they're not uncommon. After a quick scout around the Mamamia office, we found that most women have a similar story to tell.
"I was followed home one day from the train station. The guy wouldn't stop talking to me, and then when I told him I needed to go home now, he physically blocked me from moving and was like 'WOT SO YOU THINK I'M A RAPIST'
I cried after," said one Mamamia staffer.
"I was followed by a flasher in Budapest," added another.
One woman was followed home from a work meeting when she was just 14 years old. She remembers she was terrified as this man followed close behind her for the whole 20 minute walk, saying some really inappropriate things to her.
Another woman caught train home from a bar and was followed by a man who got off at the same stop at her, approached her and said "I saw you at the bar tonight," when she told him she was going home, he said "What? Don't you want to have a bit of fun?"
Someone else said that when they were only 14 years old, a car pulled up alongside them. The man in the car asked "Not to be creepy, but what's your name?"
"It didn't occur to me just how creepy that was until I got a bit older," she added.
Have you ever been stalked or followed?