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Went to get a bagel on my break from Tim Horton’s. As usual, a group of older and rough around the edges men were hanging out the front with their coffees. I could feel their eyes on me as I walked past them to go in, making me uncomfortable, but this is usually as far as it goes here (there are usually these types of groups outside this location). However, on the way out past them again, one of them says to me “Hi, darlin’” and as I don’t respond and keep walking past, “How ya doing?” etc.
I wish I had responded in the moment and told him to shut his nasty mouth, but I didn’t. I know this is far from the worst story on here, but I’m just so sick of little things like this happening all the time to me in my neighborhood. I feel violated and objectified and pissed off. Because I didn’t have a chance to reply in the moment, this is my reply: I am NOT your fucking darling, shut your nasty mouth, asshole.
On my evening jog I was crossing Callingwood Rd at 189st and a firetruck drove by and the men inside (in uniform) were honking and calling out at me. It was so inappropriate and incredibly uncomfortable (not to mention the horn was deafening because it was designed to alert cars of the presence of an emergency vehicle not to harass women). I feel that City equipment should be spent on saving lives and keeping the community safe rather than harassing female joggers and making them feel uncomfortable in their own community. This kind of treatment from City employees is completely unprofessional and disgraceful.
This was the first of many experiences of street harassment that I have faced over the years and is the one I remember most clearly. I was 13, waiting by the theatre in Chinook Centre on the phone with a friend who was running behind. I saw a man staring at me from beside Chapters, so I turned to face the theatre. I thought he would leave at that point but instead he felt my movement as an invitation to approach me. He came and stood right in front of me and said, “So you’re going to talk to your friend before you talk to me?” He was probably in his mid 40s, looked like he’d been up all night and had a black eye. I didn’t know what to do so I told my friend to give me a second and said, “Excuse me?” He smiled creepily and asked me how old I was. I might not have been the most naïve person but I was sheltered growing up so I had no idea what to do. I was panicking so I tried to keep my cool and responded by saying in the strongest voice I could manage: “Too young for you.” I turned and started walking further into the mall and he started following me. I freaked out because I was afraid that my remark had angered him so I turned into Chapters and walked a few feet in before turning and seeing him stare at me as he walked past. I was so terrified and felt ashamed that I didn’t tell anyone other than my friend because she was involved for years.
I was waiting for the bus and wearing shorts and a tank top, I am an alternative girl. There was this man who rode up to me on his bicycle wearing sweatpants.
He then proceeded to ask me if I would “show him my tits” when I said no he was then trying to convince me to by saying we could go somewhere private. Then he said “I will show u my dick if u show me your tits” & as I was saying no he just pulled out his dick from his sweatpants. The only thing I could say was there goes your bargaining tool.
I got on the South Campus LRT (subway) stop and sat on a bench, around 2 PM on a weekday. Almost immediately two men started talking to me, asking if I was ready for action, and joking between themselves about hitting on women. They were loud and drunk. I didn’t say anything because we were the only people on the car and I was scared. Finally, at the Uni Hospital stop, a lot of people got on (including men) and the drunk men stopped their catcalling.
I was at a bar and I declined a drink from a man explaining I am self-sufficient and have a girlfriend. He told me I was weird, asked me inappropriate questions, and finally expressed that he did not believe I was a lesbian. I told him I didn’t care what he believed and tried to leave the table we were at but his legs were blocking the way. Eventually he moved them oh so slightly and I stormed past, only to have him press his hands into my chest. Thankfully the staff kicked him out immediately.
Exiting my car to get a coffee. A man appeared around a pillar. He entered into my physical space as if I didn’t own it. He said he wanted to speak with me for a moment and that I was cute. I could see another man near by. I said “Sorry” as if I was at fault. I walk to the Starbucks. On my way back to my car I passed both the men again and quickly ran to my final destination. 75 mins later at the same spot I watched the two men invade another woman’s space.
In the wake of recent news regarding the UCSB shooting, there has been vast discussion surrounding violence against women in North American culture. Despite the many factors involved in the UCSB shooting case, one aspect is especially relevant to the mandate of the Edmonton Slutwalk: that women were largely the target of a violent act that was justified by the perpetrator using slut-shaming and the idea that women owe men their physical and mental affection.
Although this is an extreme example, the justification of sexual violence through the use of victim-blaming is prevalent within Canadian society. Whether it’s in the Toronto Police Service or the Court of Queen’s Bench in Manitoba, the notion that those who experience sexual assault are largely at fault is not only ridiculous but extremely dangerous. It shifts the focus onto the victim and away from the perpetrator. It is unfortunate that many women feel compelled to take every precaution when going out in public for fear not only of being assaulted, but for being blamed for their assault by not having “avoided every possibility of an attack”, which would ultimately result in staying locked up in solitude.
The reality is that it is impossible to be in public and 100% avoid sexual assault or harassment. Therefore society as a whole needs to shift the narrative from “don’t get assaulted” to “don’t assault people”. The questions need to be about why a person committed a sexual assault, who they are, how they managed to get to the point of committing such horrendous acts? Where are the questions about what the perpetrator was drinking? Where the perpetrator was that night? Why didn’t the perpetrator’s friends stop them from targeting people and harassing them? The myth that only “crazy people” commit sexual assaults and harassment is not only wrong, but also a complete misunderstanding of mental illness. The vast majority of sexual assault cases, if even reported, are committed by what society would deem “regular people” (for Canadian statistics see here). Sexual assault and harassment is so ubiquitous within North America (and globally) that it is ignorant to pass it off as something only “mentally ill” people do.
Danielle Paradis, lead organizer of Edmonton’s Slutwalk 2014, perfectly summed up: “We need society to understand that telling anyone that something they did caused their sexual assault is wrong.”
Slutwalk Edmonton’s purpose is to raise awareness and discuss the harm caused by gender-based violence, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming in a safe and inclusive manner. The fourth annual Slut Walk Edmonton will be held MAY 31st 12:00PM at WILBERT MCINTYRE PARK (8331 104 St).
Below is an excerpt from the Edmonton Slutwalk press release:
Here in Edmonton, we are celebrating our fourth year in pushing out the message that there’s nothing a person can ever do to deserve sexual violence. We have a line-up of amazing speakers: Danielle Boudreau, Junetta Jamerson, Jaqueline Fayant and musical artist Sierra Carter Jamerson. Our diverse group of speakers come from communities who are often under-represented in the conversations around sexual violence.
See you at the event!