Today, like most days, I had to go out to run some errands. When I left my house, I locked the door, and walked down the path to get to where my car is parked. The layout of where I live is very quaint: there are five houses down our lane; we live in the 3rd and this guy lives with his wife in the 4th. Our lane is so narrow we can’t drive down it.
Anyway, today, my neighbour was sat in his porch, as usual, pretending to do work. As I turned to head up the path, he wolf-whistled at me. I rolled my eyes, and carried on walking. When I ignored him, he did it louder, and yelled out, “alright my love?” I felt awkward and uncomfortable, so I just waved and smiled at him before hurrying up the path. When I came back, I stuck my head round the corner to see where he was, and as quick as I could, ran down the lane and unlocked the front door.
I think you can tell, that this was not an isolated incident. I have never shown any interest in him at all, except the odd polite hello when I see him and his wife. When I had my friends over on our last day, he kept hanging out by the garden fence, asking us for a drink and making comments about how my female friends and I were dressed. NOT OK. One of my friends already has issues with men because her father’s an asshole, how could he be so rude?
But he has always been like that to my sister and I. I first remember him making comments about my in my school uniform when I was four. I now realise that is absolutely disgusting. My sister and I discuss it sometimes, and she feels the same way as me. We just don’t know how to react. My parents think he’s just joking. Yesterday when he did it, he was chatting to someone in the porch, who just laughed as I walked away. We have tried discussing it with our parents, but they say he’s only having a laugh. But sexually harassing someone isn’t something to laugh about.
Some people may think I’m being over-sensitive, but this has had a really big effect on my life. Sometimes when I go out I feel awkward and uncomfortable, to the extent that on a really bad day, I feel like people are staring at me, and I have this massive urge to run home as fast as I can. I won’t let people touch me unless they ask me and I tell them it’s ok. This even goes for my parents, who act hurt when I shake off their hugs. It makes me nervous to leave the house, which makes me feel socially anxious.
It is important to note he has never actually touched me, but since doing some research, I have learnt that verbal sexual harassment is dealt with the same severity as physical sexual harassment, and is classified by the UN as:
- Referring to an adult as a girl, hunk, doll, babe, or honey. – While not written here, I’m sure “my love” also counts as well.
- Whistling someone, cat calls. – This is definitely the most frequent.
- Making sexual comments about a person’s body. – I am not the most body-confident person in the world, so I hate this the most.
- Making sexual comments and innuendos. – Also check.
- Turning work discussions into sexual comments. – He hasn’t done this one.
- Telling sexual jokes or stories. – This was all he did at his wedding anniversary party. Seriously. With his wife in the same room.
- Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history. – He makes a big show if he hears I’ve brought a guy home.
- Asking personal questions about social or sexual life. – He asks if my friends are seeing anyone.
- Making kissing sounds. – All. The. Time.
- Making sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy, or looks. – Also really uncomfortable.
- Repeatedly asking a person out who is not interested. – He does this “as a joke”, but is still really annoying.
- Telling lies or spreading rumours about a person’s personal sex life. – He hasn’t done this one.
Having checked all but two of these criteria shows how unacceptable this is. But does anyone listen? Apparently not. I just hope he doesn’t start harassing the little girls who live at the end of our lane, because then he will have a serious problem to deal with. No one should have to put up with this on a daily basis.