As a graduate student in Cairo, I experience sexual harassment almost on a daily basis. Videos such as “Creepers on the Bridge” and UN Women’s anti-street harassment PSA have gone viral in recent months showing harassment in not-so different worlds.
“Though the video only includes stares, it gives an idea of just how intimidating it can be in the street,” said Tinne Van Loon, cofounder of The People’s Girls. “As a woman, Egyptian or foreign, comments and stares are the norm every time we step out the door, no matter what we’re wearing.”
The fact that sexual harassment occurs all around the globe is frustrating and maddening, but, unfortunately, some people refuse to acknowledge the issue. Others even make misguided comments, motivated by their own claim to fame.
Below are 13 things that many women often think immediately after they have been sexually harassed:
1. Great. I’ll never be able to walk down that street again.
2. He just followed me for five minutes. Maybe I should pay for cabs home?
3. Maybe he didn’t mean to bump into my hip three times? Oh wait, he did it again.
4. I hate that kissing noise. Maybe he’s calling his dog over? Hm, no dogs here.
5. Should I tell my partner that my butt was grabbed. Again?
6. That was exhausting, maybe I shouldn’t go out this evening.
7. I love this dress, but after those catcalls I’m not sure if I should wear it again.
8. All my male colleagues are oogling. Pumps might have been a bad idea.
9. I hated that he called me a “b****” just because I wouldn’t talk to him.
10. His words sucked the soul out of me. Staying in all weekend? Check!
11. This lipstick is actually very bold, a lighter shade might help.
12. Can I run from him with this bag of groceries in my arms?
13. I hope there aren’t more men like him waiting around the corner…
It is absolutely infuriating to think this way in 2014, regardless of whether you are in Cairo, New York, or anywhere else in the world.
It is draining to be fearful the moment you step out of your car, your house or your job, praying that no one will harass you.
It is devastating to factor in your every move, or before posting a tweet with #YesAllWomen, just to make sure you’ll be out of harm’s way and not slandered with misogynist blows.
We are sometimes scared to death of what might happen after we politely decline men’s advances, fearing they will come running over to shove us into that abandoned alleyway, saying we’re the ugliest pieces of crap they’ve ever seen or we’re “f****** whores,” since we didn’t find their air humping the least bit charming.
Sexual harassment, used to choke the truth from our physical and spiritual bodies, has become so ingrained into societies everywhere. It doesn’t matter what we are wearing, it’s crucial to realize that sexual harassment often leads to sexual assault, rape and even death.
We’ve had enough.
WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss “Sexual Assault at Cairo University and Victim Blaming in Egypt“.