Tag: harassment stories

Day 9 – Big Beautiful Eyes

Day 9 – Big Beautiful Eyes

Do you ever go grocery shopping and totally forget one key thing? Well I do, and I happened to do that when doing my grocery shopping for the week. I tend to buy one thing for breakfast for the week, and switch it up every week. Well this week, I decided my breakfast would be bagels with cream cheese (or peanut butter and jam if I wanted to mix things up). Well I got the bagels… but I forgot the cream cheese. Now I am on a really strict budget right now, which means (if I want to follow my personal financial rules) I would not be able to buy the cream cheese until the following week. I do, however, allow myself a certain amount each week for eating out, which is what leads me to todays story.

So this morning, I decided to dip into my weekly spending money and buy myself a bagel from Tim Hortons. I have a habit of leaving the house the second that I am ready to go, so I am usually running extremely early, so I decided to sit down at a table in Tim Hortons to eat my breakfast before heading to work. I like to eat in peace, that’s just the way I am. So I chose a table that was pretty secluded in the corner by the door. After a few minutes, a man, I’m guessing in his mid-late 50’s sat at the table beside mine. I actually didn’t even notice him as I was reading emails and looking through Facebook on my phone. I was just about to pack up to go to work when I heard him say something to me.

“Do you get your big beautiful eyes from your Mom or your Dad?”

This really threw me off. I didn’t even realize there was anyone there, let alone someone there actually paying attention to me. I didn’t want to be rude, so I promptly responded with:

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“My Dad”. This is partly true. My mom’s eyes are blue, Dad’s were brown, and I think I have a bit of a mix, but they are definitely more on the brown side.

Like I mentioned before, I was just about to pack up to go to work, so naturally, I looked at my watch to see the time (what else is a watch for?). The man decided to try to continue our conversation my saying:

“My watch died, do you have the time?”

To which I responded:

“9:15. Time to get to work!”

So I stood up and started to leave. As I was turning to walk away, I hear him say one last thing:

“Tell your Dad he has nice eyes.”

I could have said something here, but I didn’t because odds are, whatever I would have said about my Dad not being alive anymore, it would have sparked a much longer conversation than I wanted to have with this man. So I just turned and kept walking.

He could have just been trying to be nice and have a good old conversation at the coffee shop. He also could have been hitting on me. I will never truly know, but it felt like the latter.

Lately I’ve been writing about other sorts of things, mainly because since I “moved” here, I haven’t really experienced any objectification or harassment. Quite frankly, I’ve really been enjoying that. Until today.

It felt really weird, honestly, since nothing has really happened in the past few weeks. So I was pretty shook for the next bit of the day. But then I started to think about it. How age makes such a big difference in how people interpret things. If someone much old than him would have said that, I probably would have thought it was very sweet. If someone closer to my age would have said it, I probably would have been really flattered and blushy (I know it’s not a word, but just go with the flow). So why was it so weird that this man said it?

Seriously, I’m asking this as a real question because I honestly do not have an answer.

My theory, as of right now, is that maybe it’s because it came from a man who is probably around the age of my own parents. When it comes from someone older, you automatically think “sweet grandparents”, when it comes to someone close to your age, you think “smooth flirt who thinks you’re attractive”, but when it comes to someone in the middle, it just gets weird.

If you have any opinions on this matter, please feel free to comment! I am very interested to see what other people think!

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Day 7 – Being A Bystander

Day 7 – Being A Bystander

Today was a pretty good day. Long, but good. But some things happened today that really got me thinking. Specifically about what I do as a bystander, and do you know what I realized? Nothing.

I don’t mean I do nothing all the time, but the point is that I don’t do something every time that I witness something that I don’t believe is right or fair.

This happened on two separate occasions with two very different scenarios today, so I am going to tell you about both of them.

So this morning, on my way to work, I decided to stop at Tim Horton’s to grab a bagel for breakfast (a little treat to myself on payday). While I was driving to Tim’s, I noticed that the route I usually take to work was compromised by the ongoing construction, so after I got my bagel, I decided to take a different road, which just so happened to be the main street (also known as Main St.). As I was driving down Main St., which is also under construction, I heard someone yelling and another person whistling. When I looked over to see what was going on, I noticed two construction workers verbally harassing a young woman who was, seemingly, trying to open one of the shops downtown. Literally just trying to unlock the door trying to get to work.

I have been thinking about this all day. How this poor girl was just trying to mind her own business, trying to do her job and start the day. And the first thing that happens to her is that she gets cat-called and verbally harassed by some construction guys, who were clearly not trying to do their job!

But also, I am really upset with myself that I didn’t stop and say something. Step in. Granted, I was in a car, driving down the street where it would have been very unsafe for me to stop and get out. I feel insanely guilty because here I am, writing about how much I hate getting harassed, yet I won’t do anything to stop it when I see it happening to someone else. I’ve been saying that us women need to stick together and stand up for each other, and I did not do that today. I am quite ashamed of myself for it. But as a positive look, now I know how awful it is to just ignore it when I see it, and I will definitely intervene the next time I see something like this happening to another person, man or woman.

The next instance of witness today was just a little earlier tonight. As I mentioned above, today was payday! Yay! But unfortunately, this is a very small town, and my bank does not have a branch here. Luckily, there is one in a town about 15 minutes away. So after work, I was driving to the next town, when I saw two dogs run across the street, not on leashes, and with no human in sight. It was a pretty residential area, so I assume they were house pet dogs.

I have imagined this moment a hundred times. I have always imagined seeing dogs running loose, me getting out of the car and “rescuing them”, and returning them to their grateful owners.

Today, though, I learned that I was imagining wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely wanted to do something, but again, I was driving, and on a fairly busy street. I thought about it for almost too long, and I ALMOST ran a red light because I was so distracted (don’t worry, I didn’t). Again, I am quite disappointed in myself for not doing anything to help. Surely, there was a family (or two) that was desperately searching for their dogs! And I could have helped, but I didn’t.

I love animals, especially dogs, and I feel like I could have helped. It is eating away at me that I didn’t stop. I keep hoping with all my heart that these dogs are ok and that they have made it back to their families. But I will never know, and that is killing me.

Once I got home, I kept thinking about both of these events, when I stumbled across a Facebook post from one of my very good friends that was really inspiring. It read: “I’m not looking for attention I just need to tell my story as to what happened this morning. My mother and I were out for breakfast this morning, a man in a wheel chair ended up sitting beside us. He received his food and my mom said “I think he’s having issues” I looked over and he was struggling to open his crackers I asked him kindly “do you need help opening your crackers” he kindly said “please” so I went over and helped him open his crackers we then started talking, he was legally blind. I guess I just want to say how amazing it feels to be helping others, just always keep your eyes there may be someone out there struggling and they may need your help. The littlest things count.” I am always very inspired by my friends. They are all such amazing people and they make me strive to be a better person. But this story really made me think, and it is what really inspired todays blog.

So today I learned a very valuable lesson. Always, always, always try to help! Not only will you make someone’s day better, you will also feel amazing about yourself!

Day 5 – Sharing Stories

Day 5 – Sharing Stories

As I noted in my last blog post, a lot of people have been reading my blog and my Facebook posts and then telling me their own stories of a time when they felt like they were being objectified and/or harassed. I think it is really important for people to share their harassment stories for two reasons: 1. So that people know that they are not the only people who experience this sort of behaviour, and 2. So that people get a chance to tell someone about what happened to them. A lot of people tend to keep their harassment experience stories to themselves because they are embarrassed or they think that no one will care/listen (among other reasons, I’m sure). So with the permission of some of these people, I decided to take some of these stories and write a blog about it.

Before I start, I would like to thank everyone who shared their stories with me. It was very eye opening for me and I hope that they have the same impact on my readers as they did on me. And for the purpose of keeping the blog a reasonable length, I am only going to share 3 stories, and may do another one of these at a later date.

The first story I am going to share was given to me by my mother. This happened quite some time ago, but she remembers it as if it were just yesterday, which automatically tells you that when someone is harassed, the memory sticks with them forever, no matter what it is that happened. The story reads this:Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 9.22.48 PM

Now how much do you want to bet that this man doesn’t even remember doing that to her? He probably thought that what he did was completely harmless! But my mother (a teenager at the time) was mortified. She went home and she thought about it and clearly has never stopped thinking about that moment.

My next story is from a friend (we will call them Jamie) from school, but it takes place about 2 years ago at Toronto’s Union Station. They were waiting to pay to get on the subway when the man in front of Jamie starts giving the ticket guy a hard time (a topic for another day):Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 6.44.47 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 6.45.01 PMJamie thinks the man was most likely intoxicated, probably from some sort of drug, but I don’t consider that to be any excuse for treating someone with that much disrespect. I do want to congratulate Jamie for standing up to the man. That is something that I, personally, usually never do. I usually just ignore the person and walk away, but I think that standing up for yourself is very brave, and probably more affective, although it can definitely be dangerous if the harasser is a violent person. Still, good on you, Jamie.

My last story is from my friend, Emily, who was totally all for me using her real name for this. Now Emily is currently living in Laos doing a teaching internship for the next few months (she has been gone for a few months too, miss you Em!). Anyway, she went into great detail telling me this story, so I will give you a moment to read all of it:

Again, another case of intoxication, and again, not a valid excuse to treat people like shit. Emily was really upset about this encounter, rightfully so, but apparently her friends didn’t seem to care as much. They were more upset about the man calling them American rather than the man insinuating that Emily was a “slut” and calling her a bitch, not to mention that had there not been something physically separating her from him, what he could have done to her for defending herself. Once again, some people have a reputation for become very violent when intoxicated, especially after someone tells them something that they do not want to hear. And, no offence to the girl this man was with, I highly doubt she would have stepped in to help if he had tried to physically harm Emily. I only say this because clearly she wasn’t trying to stand up for Emily when he was verbally attacking her. Now I have no doubt that Emily would have put up one hell of a fight – she is a seriously tough girl who doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit – and that hopefully one of the other people in the house would have been there to help her in an instant, but really, she should never have to. And that is the whole point.

I really hope that upon reading this blog, whether you identify as a man or a woman (or anything in between), that you realize that you are not alone when it comes to harassment and objectification, and that maybe you will reconsider the next time you feel like you need to come on to a total stranger, call someone a bitch, slut, whore etc., or even just stare at someone as they walk past.

I will plan to write another blog like this one, so if you have a story that you want to share with me and the people on my Facebook (since no one else really seems to read this but that is 100% ok with me), please inbox me and I will try to put your story in an upcoming blog.