Well, Aren’t You Creepy!

I had an unfortunate experience on transit today – I was getting on a crowded bus, and while standing at the front an older man turned, leered at me and said “well aren’t you pretty!”. I didn’t say anything, just smiled politely, signalling that I heard the “compliment” but didn’t want to engage further (was on the way to an audition). He continued, “How did you get to be so pretty?”. I said nothing and tried to walk past him. That’s when he stopped me and said “Why don’t you give me a hug?”. I very clearly replied “No”, and then tried to walk past him again. He then blocked my way past, moved closer to me and said “Cmon, just give me one hug.”
Without thinking, in a LOUD, clear voice so all my fellow passengers could hear, I said “Stop it! You are being innapropriate. Back off!” And like a dog who had been scolded he immediately shrunk and backed out of my way. I walked to the back of the bus as far away from him as I could get. He stood the rest of the bus ride staring forward and did not look at me again.
It felt SO GOOD!
Usually when dealing with transit or street harassment I just ignore it – but today I stood up for myself and in a moment I went from feeling very powerless in the situation, to having all the power. I highly recommend it.
wishing you all,
LOVE AND PEACE AND BETTER BUS RIDES.

Handsy and Footsies

I was on the #8 Fraser today when a put together older Italian man in a yellow & grey sport jacket started harassing the women on the bus. The first thing I noticed him do was trip a girl purposefully while she was walking past, then try to grab her & apologize. Next he started trying to play footsie with me from across the isle of the bus, I moved my feet away & shot him a look & he stopped. What happened next was the worst of it & it wasn’t directed at me. He started staring too hard & leaning too close to a girl (probably in her mid twenties) making her uncomfortable enough to get up and move. When she did, he reached out & grabbed her ass, which is when me & another young guy on the bus intervened. We had a tense verbal exchange in which he told me to shut the f-ck up & mind my own business, as well as calling me a stupid b-tch. He told me that I shouldn’t be mad at him because the woman he grabbed at hadn’t said anything. I told him that just because she hasn’t said anything, sure as hell didn’t mean that she wanted to be touched by him & that he never has the right to grab a stranger in a sexual way as they try to move past him. He kept yelling, calling me a bitch & telling me to fuck off, so I took out my phone & snapped a picture of him giving me the finger that you could see his face in. After that I told him if he was to harass anyone else on the bus that I’d call the cops & that I had a clear photograph of his face. I still have it on my phone & I uploaded it to Instagram so that if any of my friends see him they’ll know to keep their distance.

Filthy Mouthed Toad (F/50s)

This happened several years ago, probably on the 99B-line, the #9 Broadway or maybe the #20. I sat in one of the single seats on the side of the bus behind the driver, round about the middle of the bus. I noticed a dirty, dishevelled looking old man in the seat right behind me. For several minutes, his muttering went on in the background of my awareness. Then I realized he was talking to me, using the lewdest language possible to describe me sexually. I was shocked and indignant. I jumped up, ran to the bus driver, and repeated in a very loud voice the things that toad had been saying to me. If I had to hear that filth when I’d just been minding my own business, then I was going to make sure everyone heard it. Some passengers glared at me (as if I was at fault?!) I didn’t care. I didn’t feel at all ashamed or at fault. And I think loudly broadcasting his filth helped me to let it go. All the bus driver did was tell me to sit in a seat close by him.

About 15 years ago, while I was waiting for a bus at Broadway and MacDonald, an old man sat down on the bench at the stop, took his penis out, and started jerking off. He had a huge umbrella strategically placed so the people driving by couldn’t see what he was doing. But I had full view. It left me feeling dirty.

Felonious Feline Imagery (23/F)

Last Saturday i was at the Royal Oak Sky Train Station at around 6:20pm  when this a man (around late 20’s early 30s) started staring at me uncomfortably and walking towards me. He was very short (around 5’3), Caucasian, had short blonde hair and he started saying things to me like “hello sexy kitty,” “aren’t you a sexy kitty,”  “meow,” and trying to walk behind me. I was very freaked out because I thought he might look up my skirt or grope me. As I was validating my ticket, he continually harassed me and started saying things like “I bet you’re a beautiful pussy” and other things along those lines. As I was walking up the stairs I noticed that he was touching and rubbing his crotch and he kept trying to come back and talk to me.  I noticed that he was going the same direction as me so I didn’t want to be on the same sky train as him so I walked to the other side, purposely walking far away from him so he wouldn’t follow me. The asshole still doesnt back off and  he walks to where I was at and starts harassing me again. I told him he should stop as he is making me feel very uncomfortable. At this point he was still rubbing his crouch very fervently.  Then the train pulls in to go East bound, he says to me, “ I really wish I can fuck you. You are so sexy, “ and “Asian persuasion.”

I felt soo disgusted, but the next time this ever happens to me, i am going to stand up for myself and tell him to fuck off and don’t harass women anymore. I feel that men like him harass women because he thinks that we are too timid and we are easy preys. The next time someone ever does that around me, I am going to say to him ” do you enjoy harassing women cuz your a scumbag and you should fuck off.”

“Pretty Little Girls” in Ugly Situations

I’ve been harassed more times than I can count on all of my fingers and toes in the 10-ish years I’ve been taking public transportation. I admit, I used to roll my eyes when my parents would tell me to be careful, not to take the bus at night, to have a male friend escort me at least to the bus stop, if not all the way home.

After a few unfortunate incidents I began to attend functions with the disclaimer that I was not going to be making an appearance unless I was getting a ride home/being escorted by someone much larger and scarier looking than I, just to feel safe.

It was hard to decide which stories to submit, but these are the ones that I seem to recall the clearest, and can’t seem to let go of.

At about age 19 I was taking the #9 Broadway, in the middle of the day. A man in his mid-twenties was standing in the aisle and I was sitting in the middle of the bus, close-ish to the door, in the aisle seat. He struck up a conversation that started pleasantly enough, but quickly took a turn for the worst when he asked if I had a boyfriend. I replied that I didn’t think it was any of his business (as politely as possible) and said something along the lines of, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to just listen to my music now.” At first it seemed like he was going to respect my request (which shocked me). Alas, I was disappointed when he grabbed the cord to my headphones, pulled the ear buds from my ear, and continued to pull until my Ipod was in his hands, then on the floor of the bus, then crushed under the heel of his Doc Martens. In shock, I could only stare, at which point he slapped me across the face, spit on me, and called me a “selfish, ungrateful, fucking bitch who couldn’t get fucked if I tried.” A barrage of derogatory name-calling followed. The passengers came to my aid. Those closest to the driver yelled for him to stop and when he did, my attacker was pushed out the doors, the police were called, one older lady stayed with me while I shook and sobbed and provided a statement. Yes, I pressed charges. No, nothing came of it, except for a slow burning terror that took root in my heart.

The next story happened when I was 27. I was headed downtown on the SFU bus that travels along Hastings, with my infant daughter in her stroller. Any time I take my children on transit I’m aware that I’m inviting comments, mostly positive, from fellow passengers. I don’t mind when people comment on my daughters’ cuteness or clothing or ask me questions about them. This particular day a man in his 40’s sat next to me. I was sitting at the front of the bus taking up too much space with my stroller (something I always feel guilty about) but try to leave the seat next to me open, or I don’t sit at all so that someone else can. Anyway, he sat next to me and the usual small talk commenced. How old was she? It looked like she has my eyes. Children are such a joy. Etc, etc, etc. And then, classic, “Are you married?”
“Yes, I’ve been married for x amount of years. My husband is a wonderful man.”
“That’s too bad. If you tell me where you live I can get rid of him for you. I’d love to live with a pretty little girl like yours. I bet you could have a lot more pretty little girls.” And then he attempted to touch my daughters face.

I don’t know that I have ever responded so instantly or aggressively to anything in my entire life.

I physically pushed him out of his seat, and stood between him and the stroller that my baby was sitting in. I informed him that if he tried to touch my daughter one more time I would rip his fucking hands off. He told me to “chill out” and seemed outraged that I had “overreacted”, but got off the bus at the next stop anyway, telling me as he left that he hoped he would get to see her “pretty little face” again soon.

One of the other passengers asked me if I was alright after he’d left and said that she would have done the same thing in my position, which I suppose made me feel validated, but I had to call my husband and have him talk me out of the blinding rage I felt. It was horrible, and I’ve taken my children on transit less than a handful of times since. We even went so far as to buy a second car for our family so that I DON’T have to take them on the bus.

My third story is as a bystander. I was taking my usual bus to UBC and a very young (maybe 15 year old) African girl was sitting across from me on a very crowded bus. A middle aged man sat next to her and started leaning in to her, telling her incredibly vulgar sexual acts he wanted to perform on her because she was “so fucking beautiful”. She was VISIBLY uncomfortable, and was trying to lean away, but was clearly boxed in on all sides and didn’t have much room to maneuver in. Everyone at the back of the bus could hear what he was saying and see how terrified this poor girl was. I feel a bit sorry for men in our society. I think that as women, we sometimes expect them to become heroes in situations like these. I made eye contact with the burly construction working sitting close to me and made a gesture like, “Well?!?” But he looked away and did nothing. In spite of my own worries that the harassers attentions would turn to me I reached out and touched the girls knee gently, saying loudly, “Do you need some help?” She nodded vigorously, tears welling in her eyes, while the man next to her said, just as loudly, “Fucking bitches need to mind their own fucking business! I’m just paying someone a compliment! Or don’t you know what that is?” I asked the large construction worker if he would mind switching seats with the girl, and he happily obliged (thankfully). Harassy Mcharasserson got off the bus shortly after, making sure I knew how horrible and ugly I was, and the girl thanked me over and over, as well as the buddy she swapped seats with.

The entire situation cemented the fact that sometimes change just needs a catalyst. Sometimes the big guy who can come to the rescue needs someone else to be his voice. Sometimes the uncomfortable girl needs someone to show her that she doesn’t have to put up with aggressive, sexual, unwanted behavior in ANY situation. Sometimes someone needs to say, “tell us you story”, and change will happen.

Punches and Hunches (30/F)

Story 1.
I was at the Sperling Skytrain with my roommate early one evening and we noticed a rather large Native male in the bus loop. He flicked his roach away (he had just finished smoking pot) and walked up to a group of older Asian ladies and started screaming at them to “go back home” and to “shove their umbrellas up their c***ts.”, calling them racial names. He was circling then and he got right into their faces screaming at them and was obviously terrifying them. I couldn’t just watch so I made my way over to a bus waiting at a stop across the loop and he realized that I was going to report him so he raced up to me and got in my face calling me a “dumb bitch”, “c***t”, telling me he could “rape me right here if he wanted to” which completely terrified me. I gathered all the courage I could muster and when I told him that I wasn’t afraid of him he punched me hard in my shoulder. The bus driver opened his doors to let myself and my roommate in and closed the doors and kept the bus there until the police arrived. The man was hitting and kicking the bus yelling at me to come out and even started threatening the driver. Thankfully the bus driver and passengers were kind and didn’t mind waiting for the police to show up.

Story 2
I was on my way home late one evening (around midnight). I was seated at the back of the bus and minding my own business reading my book. A dark coloured younger guy got on the bus and sat at the back ascross from me. He picked up a water bottle that someone before him had discarded, and while staring at me whipped out his penis and inserted it into the bottle and pissed into it. He threw it out the window and began jiggling in his pants, I looked across again and saw him masturbating. I got up this time and moved to the front of the bus close to the driver and when the guy got off the bus, I told the driver what happened and he told me that I should have let him know what was going on so he could have done something about it. Like many of the other stories, my thinking was “well if he’s that bold to do that, then what else is he capable of?”.

Story 3
This isnt my story but I wanted to put in here that we really should speak up to the drivers/security more. My stepdad is a driver and while out shopping with him one day a lady ran up to him thanking him for saving her. Appearently, she was being harassed on his bus one night, and when she got up to get off his bus, the harasser got off too trying to follow her home. My stepdad parked the bus and walked with her until she felt safe enough on her own.

Other than these stories I, myself have been subject to unwanted touching/advances/close sitters/and other things but haven’t spoken up because I think I’m being too paranoid. Since my first story, I am a little apprehensive to speak up because I don’t want to be violently punched again, I had a bruise for weeks for speaking up for myself and others. Reading other stories, I realize I am not the only one who has been harassed or have had these things happen to them, I feel encouraged to say something now, regardless of what may happen.

thank you for your project… it really brings light to a subject that really needs to have some awareness.

Thigh Time to be Reprimanded

I was recently on the bus headed to work wearing a fun new pair of tights under a sweater dress, when a older ‘man'(E.I, maybe mid 50’s thin face, white hair) came and sat down next to me. Of course I thought nothing of it and continued to listen to music, looking dead ahead. Soon after he sat down next to me I felt a tap on my shoulder. Thinking he just had a question I took out one headphone and asked him to repeat himself… ” You are very pretty” he says while placing his hand on my thigh. Disgusted I pushed his hand away and told him to back off. He then put his hand back on my thigh and began to tell me that he had money and could pay me, this whole time he was trying to push his hand further under my dress. Now, this is not the first time I have been harassed on the bus or the train, but this was the first time someone had harassed me so openly. Despite loudly shouting at him to remove his hand from under my dress, no one came to my aid. So I stood up, shouting as many obscenities as I could think of before slapping him across the face. Needless to say he got off the bus at the next stop.