Walking While Fat and Female – Or, Why I Don’t Care Not All Men are Like That

I started walking between 5 and 12 miles a day about year after I moved to Seattle. The main motivator was a crippling anxiety about being late coupled with an inconsistent public transportation system (that will now become less consistent, yippee). Additionally, working in an industry with late nights (I house manage for various theaters) means that if you’re reliant on public transit, you will be waiting for an hour at a scary bus stop with Mr. and Mrs. Meth Addict at 1:30 in the morning. Walking became a way for me to take control of my commute. It was my time. Four mile walk to work. Four mile walk back. In the rain. In the dark. In the cold. Every season. Sometimes with tunes. Sometimes with “Stuff You Missed in History Class.” Sometimes talking to myself. And sometimes with silence.

When I moved to Seattle I weighed 260 pounds. Because I walk so much (and lead a pretty active life here) I now hover between 175 and 190 depending on the the time of year. And I’m fucking strong. I run several times a week and I’m training for my first triathlon. But I’m still fat. And I’m good with that.

I never started walking places to lose weight. I started walking because I like to walk and because it was a chance for me to have my time before and after a stressful day. It was a chance for me to explore the city and see it in a way that people driving past wouldn’t ever be able to. Walking became a lot more than just my time though. It’s how I started writing again. Being in my head with time just for me to talk out an idea, or listen to character voices jump-started my imagination after a few years of feeling lost.

So, why not walk?

According to a number of men who seem to come crawling out of their hidey hole around this time of year here’s why:

  1. I’m a woman.
  2. I’m fat.
  3. I’m sexy.
  4. I’m a cunt.
  5. I need a man.
  6. I’m walking.
  7. I’m walking with another woman.
  8. I have tits.

Last night, I was walking across a crosswalk while fat and female. Two guys in a white SUV rolled down their window to say. “Hey, cunt. Cunt. Hey. You’re fat. Fat, fat cunt. Fat. Fat. Cunt. ” I didn’t even realize they were talking to me at first. By the time I’d made it past their car, the guy in the passenger seat had rolled down his window to continue yelling at me. Changing it slightly to make it very clear, yes they were talking to me, and yes, they wanted a reaction. I didn’t have one. I was in my time. My time to walk, to think, to decompress after a long day. I just kept walking.

That’s my automatic response of self-preservation. Just keep walking. Don’t react. Don’t turn to look at them. Don’t stop. I’m a hot head in certain situations. I work customer service so I’ve got it pretty well under control, but in the heat of the moment if I don’t count to 10, I will say or do something that will escalate a situation. And when you’re a woman who walks home alone at night, you learn not to escalate. Because whoever is yelling at you from their weapon (a car is a weapon) could decide to hit you with it. Or could chase you. Or could jump out and run after you at the next stop light. So I keep walking.

Being a woman (cis, trans, or otherwise) means that you grow accustomed to men and sometimes women, commenting about your body on a regular basis without provocation. When I run, there’s the occasional man that feels it’s his duty to tell me, “You go, honey. You’re gonna lose that weight!” as if that’s why I’m running, to fit in with what the expectation of what a woman should look like and be. I’m a good fatty. I run. I’m trying to be thin.

A man once came up to me on the street just to tell me that I was too fat for the dress that I was wearing. Thanks, arbiter of my fashion fat. I couldn’t do it without you.

A huddle of male teens asked me to suck them off as I walked past them after 9 pm. They made it clear that they didn’t want to fuck me. I was too fat for that. But oral sex would be all right. They were doing me a favor, you see.

Again. I don’t escalate. I don’t acknowledge. I’m not saying this is the right way to deal with these situations. I’m saying it’s how I deal with them. I’ve tried others. But there’s no reasoning with stupid. And there’s also a greater risk of escalating a situation when you engage it. Being a woman means that I already feel unsafe 50% of the time. And when I’m alone, I don’t need to feel even more unsafe just to make a point. No matter how much I want to say, “Fuck off” or “You know someone has said the same thing to your mama, right?” I just keep walking or running past because saying the greatest, most eloquent, feminist statement is not worth dying for, right?

So, I do what I believe most of the women I know do – try to talk about it. Share it with people after it happened. Let them know that it happened. That it keeps happening. But then, I’m met the resounding, “Not all men are like that, you know.” (Seriously, do you want a cookie for not being a douche?) Or, “Walking by yourself is dangerous.”

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not feeling like I can say anything to the jerks* that yell at me. Like I can’t react. And that I can’t even share that this experience happens daily with supposed allies. Not all men shout at me from cars. But the ones that do shout at me are the ones that make it unsafe to walk in my city. And you telling me that not all men do that doesn’t make my walk, or drive, or existence safer. It makes it more challenging to say, “This happened and it was wrong.” It makes it harder to call out this behavior for what it is – misogynistic, sexist, rape culture bullshit behavior. I don’t care that not all men are like this. I care that it happens. That it continues to happen. That it’s common. That it’s so common that when I hear a woman start talking about it with other women, those women can point to at least one similar incident that’s happened to them in the past two weeks.

I want to share these stories. I want to know when it happens to other women, my friends, and colleagues. And I want the men and women in my life to know that it happens, too. It’s not isolated. And even if not all men are like that, it sure happens a helluva a lot, so maybe start being on the lookout for it. Be an actual ally in this instead of just saying that you aren’t like that, but what I do is dangerous. That being out past 9 is dangerous. That helps no one, least of all the women who have to be out past 9, or the women who should go out past 9 because it’s a fucking right to be out whenever the fuck we want to be.

Me walking home at night or in the day time (harassment isn’t just a nighttime activity) is as safe as you driving your car home, by which I mean, it’s inherently dangerous. Everything has risks. But walking while fat and female – that’s apparently the riskiest of all, dude.

*In a previous version, this was “fucktard.” A number of people reached out to me to tell me that they found that to be offensive to those with an intellectual disability. I did not intend to use language that was insulting. However, intentions don’t matter. I respect that it was offensive and have removed the word from this post. I hope I will be able to remove it from the posts that have now circulated the internet, though I likely won’t be able to edit them all. Thank you.

249 comments

  1. PREACH. I have walked what feels like every inch of Seattle proper since I moved here in 1992. I used to be fat – some weird, metaphysical thing happened when I turned 30 and suddenly, the weight just fell off, I wasn’t doing anything differently. I walk whenever it suits me – day or night. And, I have had men yell things out of cars at me. A LOT. Mostly when I was fat, ABOUT the fact that I was fat. “BIG BUUUUUUUTT!!!” is one I remember, while walking through Belltown one night. For daring to walk. And for being fat and female. No, not all men are like that, but the fact there still are is reason enough to continue to still call it out. And the older I get, the more I have started to yell back – the convenient thing about becoming an older woman is that you start becoming invisible to everyone – and they don’t expect you to yell back. :-)

    Anyway – solidarity. Do it however you need to, talk about it however you need to, and however it makes you feel safe.

    1. “BIG BUUUUUUUUUTT!!!”
      “…TINY PENIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!!!”
      I would so answer that, lol. But easier said than done I suppose !

  2. You are my hero. Empathy is so hard to find. Sympathy (me, too) – easy. Fix-its (advice) – easy. Blame (shoulds) – easy. But just plain “That must feel scary and anguishing and vulnerable all at once – because we ALL need physical and emotional safety, and the freedom to not only express ourselves, but the sense that our FEELINGS, our EXPERIENCES fucking MATTER!!!”
    You matter to me.
    Your experience matters to me – to all of us.
    And if you’re wondering what I’m feeling in response: I’m frustrated. I want us all to learn and discover the endless benefits of empathy, just pure empathy free of finger-pointing and fixing.
    And I’m proud.
    That you made a stand for what I believe in.
    Thank you.

  3. I’m sorry this happens. Thank you for talking about it. As a fat female who wants to walk more and is around the same weight you started at, I also have questions:
    1) has the harassment ever continued to escalate beyond yelling, and what did you do (besides not engaging, if anything) that got you out safely?
    2) what kind of shoes do you wear? I feel constant pressure to wear nice or pretty shoes but they’re often not comfortable for walking. Do you have favorites you can recommend?

    1. the favourites I can recommend are “whichever you’d like to”. Because, hey, despite opinions and advice nobody else is gonna walk in your shoes. If you’d like them fancier go for it, if you don’t, don’t. your path, your shoes.

  4. I think this is terrific and I’ve thought the same stuff myself. The only objection I have with this piece is the use of the word “fucktard,” because I think that it’s meant to be a contraction somehow of the word “retard,” and that is also a slur. People with intellectual disabilities seem also to be a group that society is allowed to ridicule. I just wanted to raise that with you, as a writer I now know of and otherwise admire!

  5. Well said and great piece! However, the grammar Nazi in me must point out that “these” is not a hyphenatable word; it’s only one syllable.

  6. Thank you for writing about this “thing” which has dogged me my entire life. It doesn’t matter whether I’m fat or thin, men always feel it’s their right to comment on me if I’m in public. Why would women pretend it doesn’t happen to them? It happens to all of us. We can be covered completely and it still happens. It’s wrong that we can’t be left alone. However, there are so many things wrong in today’s upside-down world that our rights as women fall far down the list of things society needs to handle. Still, I salute you. Keep saying what needs to be said.

  7. Class act changing the word. It was refreshing to not have to listen to defensiveness and instead get to read about your respect for the feelings of others and stating that intentions don’t matter.

  8. I live in Beirut Lebanon Im not what you would call fat but according to the lebanese standard I am quite “generous”
    Once I was walking at NOON and a guy stop on his motorbike while I was crossing the street, looked at me in the eye and said “i like your boobs” pretended I didnt hear that and kept going
    How I wish I could punch the guy in the face!!

  9. can’t fix stupid, HA! I like that and you are right! Not worth it! But I am sorry people try to lessen the bad behavior of those who are so cruel by saying “not everyone does that” OF COURSE they don’t! If they did can we imagine what a place that would be. I am sorry for those who do and they suck and you have every right to be over it and frustrated! Thanks for the post! Good Read!

  10. Read your article about walking , has happened to me – I anticipate it when passing even a couple of spotty teenagers. It’s shit.

  11. Oooh, I like you! I am also a fat woman who just likes to walk. I am also vexed at times that the rest of the world feels entitled to stick parameters around why and when I walk. Might I suggest the substitution of ‘Fuckstick’ for the offensive word. Much more accurate than ‘Jerk’, and as far as I have heard, no sticks are offended by this term.

  12. Thank you for writing this. As a female bodied Seattle walker, It has become “normal” to have people yell at me from their cars, to shout at me about who and what I am, how I am dressed, what they think i should be doing to them- All from the safety of their cars and trucks. There is a level of helplessness, frustration, anger that goes along with these occurrences- because what choice do I have? All i can do is say nothing, pretend that it is OK to be crudely shouted at, knowing that the shouters have nothing to fear from their actions.

  13. This is such a great post, and it really rings true. I appreciate your perspective so much, because i think that women are devalued in society and as such some men (too many, ‘not all’ or not) believe that we can be spoken to however they want. Not to mention fat women, because now we’re women who are perceived as less than other women.
    It’s really fucking annoying.

  14. I no longer walk. I can’t because of health issues. But 40 years ago I worked in L.A. and use public transportation. I had to transfer at the bus terminal in downtown L.A., not the best part of town. One day, as I stepped off the bus, a group of men gathered on the corner started taunting me. “Are those REAL?” That sort of stuff. Of course, I felt ashamed, like I should not have large breasts. This sort of thing has happened to me, but since I no longer expose myself to situations where it can happen, it’s been a long time. I’ve been told I was fat by teenage boys. In those days, people didn’t feel as “free” to comment on another person’s appearance. I dread to think what it would be like now that people are much more vocal. I do know that that IF I ever find myself in that kind of situation again, my response would be, “Yes, I’m fat, but I can diet. You’ll always be stupid.” I’m sorry for the way you have been treated. No one deserves that.

  15. Right on! This exactly. Just because “not all men are like that” doesn’t mean you (anyone) can’t do something about it.

    Also, I mostly commented to say that this features the best statement accompanying her edit that I have ever seen in a piece of writing, blog post or otherwise. Kudos.

  16. Courtney, this is absolutely beautiful. You have inspired me to write a poem about the subject — how much a woman has to fear and experience while simply taking a walk. You are not alone. I am a 145 pound 23 year old who experiences the exact same reactions from men and women every single day. I live near the campus that I work and study on, so I have been walking for the past three years. There are many of us — and I didn’t even realize how much of a problem it was until this piece. It is problematic that we experience this as women and we accept it, we don’t think twice about it, it’s just part of life; when it’s not okay and should be assumed or accepted. Thank you once again.

  17. Courtney, you amazing, strong, kickass, badass, strong lady. You don’t need me to reassure you of your strength, but I will anyway. I used to be fat and I love to bike and would experience the same treatment, almost to the letter. Because my bike was a faster getaway vehicle than just plain feet, I would often retort to the assholes. I don’t call it escalate, because I’d say something and jet. God it was satisfying. Concentrating on their mothers was super offensive to them, but also effective. One of the best stories was a couple of a-holes on foot on the sidewalk telling me how fat I am. I got off my bike and got on the sidewalk and got face to face with them. I told them to go home and tell their mother (that they still live with) exactly what they said to me. They were completely speechless. I stood my ground and told them to go ahead, go home and do what I said. And they walked away, still speechless.

    Anyway, keep walking! Keep being fat if that’s what happens. Keep running but be nice to your knees. I hurt mine when I ran heavy. And, maybe, one day, grab a bike so you can have a getaway vehicle after you retort to one of these idiots. POWER to you.

  18. Excellent post! Street harassment is something that makes my blood boil. I’ve been a victim of it all too often, at all hours of the day and night. I understand how you feel about “not escalating” because I feel the same way.

    Also, may I suggest “fuckstick” as a replacement insult? I also used to use the other word, but stopped for the same reasons. I have subbed in “fuckstick” instead, and it gets my point across. ;)

  19. …..But there’s no reasoning with stupid……
    Seriously, do you want a cookie for not being a douche?

    love it, love it, love it!!!

    Walking late at night in our nations capitol, I heard and saw all kinds of things. Worked as a waitress and bartender for years…. Either I was joyfully naive ( I was) or… the times were slightly different (they might have been). It was the 80’s. In Adams Morgan (before it was gentrified) my roommate and I heard it all. And Dupont circle, and Georgetown…. We finally just started to yell back, in whatever language they were shouting at us…..

    just hold onto .. ‘there is no reasoning with stupid’…. and, well, before you know it, they won’t look at you at all really… you’ll have crossed that age threshold…. and either it won’t get to you as much, or they won’t look at you as much… or both :)

    thanks for the blog, I smiled and laughed…..

  20. I think you’ve got mad balls, and I respect the shit out of that. And that’s, like, metaphorical balls. Obviously you do not have real balls, unless you play tennis or use the batting cages on a regular basis. Maybe balls is the wrong word. But it sounded silly in my head to say, ‘You’ve got moxy.’

    Anyway, good for you. No, not all men are assholes. Not all men are serial killers, either, but it really only takes one, right? I think you’re a bad-ass. I wish I lived in Seattle, so I could walk with you. Because I am a man, and my primal, grunting lizard-brain wants to pound the unholy shit out of anyone who would interfere with another person putting to good use his or her unrelenting balls.

  21. Reblogged this on sotOhana and commented:
    I love this! And I do the same- just keep my head held high and ‘swim away’ like my Dad taught me. It’s not worth engaging because that’s what they want. I also must admit my first reaction upon reading that she walked at night was to chastise her silently in my head for doing so. When I think about it, though, without the intentional transgression of these ‘rules’ we women constrain each other with, how are we ever going to realize true freedom? Great read!

  22. Your article is very touching. As a father of a daughter it worries me that there’s guys out there that are such jerks. If I see this behavior towards woman I will make sure the jerks are reprimanded. Thanks for sharing your story.

  23. I’m glad you wrote this article. And I’m sorry you went through that the other night. Walking in your city… your home, is your right. And enjoying nature, taking care of your mind and body is something extremely valuable/personal and I’m so glad to hear of all the positives that have come from your heal toe journeys.

    I find myself triple thinking my outfits before I go on my long walks to avoid the “slut” yells from cars, honking, and the really scary “hey I just screamed right next to you while my car drives by” situation. I’ve wanted to problem solve with other women on this and I’m glad you are supplying a forum. What are your ideas on this? Not just you Courtney but YOU reading this, what can be done?

  24. Excellent article.

    Wondering if instant, web-based accountability would be a deterrent? As in, streaming the incidents via google glass, or similar?
    Could make the stupid want to be Internet stars. How about streaming, with GPS locator, to the nearest police cruisers?
    Hmmm…..

  25. Thank you for sharing this, not only because it is so important that we speak the truth – at least (or at most?) to each other but also because I now have read your web site and have the privilege of meeting you and your work.

    Walking While Woman happens to us all, whether we realize it or not, at any size and any age, but certainly more loudly and frequently at some ages and sizes.

    You describe much worse, blatant and offensive language and attitudes but, yes, if we are honest, we must always be careful how much to say in response to the ongoing commentary from those men who feel entitled to judge every woman. This is an act of power, of course. But we must name it. That is why I applaud you so sincerely.

    I’ve been thinking lately about how much we need to keep naming as women. I does not matter that we “know” that we are daily exposed to ridiculous images of skinny white young women as the standard, we must name it, mentally and also literally. I don’t see any other way. Since the dominant image is “named” so ubiquitously, to save our sanity I believe we must say it often. Not only because it is true, but because the cultural crap drains us without our knowledge, without our consent. By saying it, we can remember the fallacy again and again and then move forward with all we need to do, to create, to be in our lives.

    Again I say. Thank. You.
    Meta.

  26. Ugh…this hurts my heart AND pisses me off (as so many things do). It also reminds me of something my mom did. She used to regularly walk several miles in our neighborhood. Once, this car came up to her doing/saying similar things that are stated in this blog. She hunched over and started acting like a gorilla, grunting and beating her chest and running toward the car. It scared the crap out of them, and they peeled off. Makes me laugh every time I think about it. Mom-1, fucktards-0

  27. You’re awesome! Just keep walking. I’ve recently done my first half ironman – and I’m fat too. I feel fantastic, no matter what the others say. <3 <3 :)

  28. Thank you for writing this. I’ve had these experiences far too often than I’d like to admit. Although, for me, I’ve always been to ashamed to talk about it. I think for far too long I just kind of buried it and compartmentalized it and been the good fat girl that I am. I think as a culture we are taught to be ashamed of our bodies and who we are and that we perhaps even deserve this censure and open criticism. It’s as if even being slightly overweight gives everyone open reign on commenting as if to shame us into changing.
    I’d love to have a community where I could talk about these things more openly. Where people aren’t afraid to be a bit vulnerable. For people not to have the same commentary or opinions, but to simply say that is wrong and it shouldn’t have happened.

  29. I am a fatty who has been a bike commuter in Salt Lake City for the last 3 1/2 years. I get similar comments when I am stopped at lights or yelled out from cars on a regular basis. What craziness! Stay strong and keep walking!!

  30. I support you! I was angry and felt humiliated when as I walked through a mall in a mini skirt, I heard an adolescent male behind me say “I think I’m getting an erection.” He said it in a mean, sarcastic way. I couldn’t help having the immediate reaction of feeling ensnared and kind of hugging myself. The trauma happens so immediately and with little warning. I looked behind me to see who could be so mean, and saw this boy slink off with his male friend,

  31. I guess I have always considered myself lucky – I have a hearing loss, so I don’t always hear everything that is said to me. And it isn’t always while walking. I have been the fat woman on the bus, who tries to take up as little space as possible, but I really can’t. So I get the dirty looks and comments from someone who doesn’t want to share a seat with me. That is why I tend to listen to my ipod on the bus, so I mask out the ugliness.
    Thanks for your post.

  32. Like millions of women who would like to walk down a street unmolested (verbally or otherwise) day or night, I just don’t do it anymore (because of catcalls many many times and being chased by car twice). And I’m sorry that you, Megan, can’t do it without being harassed. It has enraged me all my life that something that should be a simple right is denied to women. Men walk unmolested but women can’t (yes, I know some men may get catcalls, but they’re not in fear for their lives). I’m a writer, too, and I know how fertile walking is for the brain (especially in the mysteries of night). But I can’t–because I have to protect myself against people who think that because of my gender I should not have that simple right. Bottom line, it’s gender alone; any woman, fat or thin, plain or perfect, is denied the right to walk unmolested.

  33. Thank you for having the passion and courage to voice these attacks. My wife (who is a proud feminist & Knox theater Alumni) opened my eyes to this about 10 years ago in NYC. This blog will help start a conversation that is sorely needed in this country. Well done.

  34. Great piece, I can completely relate to when men say, “not all men are like that” and i’m like, “but some are, deal with it” Thanks for bringing up an issue that as a female pedestrian is NOT being talked about as often as it should.

  35. I started running in my teens due to what I now recognize now was a case of body dysmorphia (I thought I was the fattest person in the world). I recall the day a couple of guys yelled something from their car and although I didn’t catch the entire comment, I did hear the word “ass” which I concede was a bit large in relation to the rest of my petite frame and did attract unwanted attention. I reverted to walking as I got older and less fit and continued to experience similar incidents including the most disturbing one when a carload of kids yelled “nigger” and threw a bottle at me. I wish I had developed the courage to consistently continue running/walking as you did and learned how to manage the comments but I instead became afraid so seldom venture out on foot. I commend your attitude and your ability to not allow stupid people to deter you.

  36. This is a great post and I thank you for speaking out. I’ve been insulted so many times in my life for being fat that it’s hard to remember every situation…but I do remember the feeling and the result, which was that I turned that anger inward. UNHEALTHY! I’ve grown a lot from those experiences since, though, and like to think I’m stronger because of my choice to grow from them. Reshared on FB & Twitter.

  37. I think a big part of the ‘NOT ALL _____ ARE LIKE THAAAAAAAAAT’ crowd are, sure, trying to get a pat on the head for not being a crappy person – but even that’s a flawed idea because *you don’t deserve credit for not being a crappy person*. Once you get out of third grade, you stop being entitled to getting a gold star for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway. Your reward isn’t being hailed as Not That Guy/Lady/Whatever, it’s simply… not being That Guy/Lady/Whatever. Which honestly, is better than a pat on the head.

    For what it’s worth, I’m sorry this happens. I wish it didn’t. I think the closest we have to a solution – if there is one at all – is to really push the idea that that person walking down the street / answering the phone at the cable company / whatever is really for real a PERSON, and not just a meat puppet designed for your amusement.

    I worry we train people that they are the only real person on the planet, and that nobody else qualifies as human. I see that undercurrent in a lot of fearmongering news stories about how the crisis of the month is all down to THIS jerk or THAT country or whatever, and in not following up the early childhood mantra of ‘you are special’ with ‘and everyone else is special too’.

    I’m just rambling at this point. Sorry. Mainly I just wanted to add another voice to the pile of ‘yes, i read this, and it really sucks, and i wish it didn’t happen to anyone ever’. :(

  38. Street harassment was a daily difficulty when I lived in NYC. I am so sorry that it has been happening to you (to anyone), but you have the best response to it- writing this piece. (PS, I am a fellow Knox Grad, Theatre major).

  39. It’s been awhile since I lived in Seattle, but I rarely had the difficulties you’ve had, and being a non driver, I walked a lot. I like walking. You see a place differently at 3 miles per hour. There are a lot of nuances. It’s very saddening it should be made so unpleasant for you.

    Neighborhoods? I’ve only been mistaken for a whore in the ID or on Aurora, but I mostly went through residential neighborhoods and rarely at night. I think people actually came to recognize me over time. Which was kind of odd. Being a person who walks where most everyone drives had made me feel invisible.

    For me, the problem was always more not getting hit by cars. When I was in college, I lived down the street from a serial killer and looked like his victims in every respect but for where I parted my hair, but came to realize over time that I was far more likely to be killed by someone not paying attention. I can’t possibly count the number of times I’ve nearly been hit in a designated crosswalk when I’m crossing with the light. Forget my civil rights at unmarked crosswalks. You know that term ‘speed limit’? If people actually observed it, they’d have time to watch out for pedestrians. If they walked, they’d have greater awareness of what it is to be a pedestrian. Sure, there are unconscious pedestrians who launch themselves into the street w/o even looking, but as there are many fewer pedestrians than drivers, there are way more unconscious drivers.

    Thanks for pointing out how less that stellar Seattle’s bus system is. I get tired of hearing how wonderful it is. From my point of view, the decision was made in the ’70s to make it a system to get the most people to a few major places, i.e the U District, Downtown, during the major commute hours and ignore people who need it to get around town. It’s madness to think life w/o a car is barely more than possible in Seattle, though I’ve done it for years at a time.

  40. I’m both glad and sad to read this article. Glad, because I see someone like me speaking her mind, and walking by herself in any hour not giving a sh*t (I am a free individual, I am as free as you are to walk in the street by night). And sad, because it’s 2014 and I am sick of fighting against patriarchy and misogyny, all over the world.
    I want to share one of my stories with you. One week ago at 10 am I was in a rush in Milan to catch the bus that will drive me to the airport. Walking at the bus station I noticed three men staring at me and I pretended not to see them, just to avoid any problem. But they kept staring and staring, and when I passed them one of them started WHISTLING at me and told me “Hey beauty!”. I couldn’t control myself, and, in the most elegant manner I know, I turned around, got closer, looked at him in his eyes and said “I’m not your fuck*ng dog, asshole! You better stop.” I left him speechless, he didn’t expect that reaction from a female, from a beautiful girl. I’m not that good in keeping my mouth closed when someone irritates me, but if it was nighttime I’d probably have thought twice about it. Sometimes I know I better just keep walking if I wanna keep my life as it is…it’s just not fair at all.

  41. I walk around quite a bit, generally in the Northeast. I’m fat, I often walk on my own. Hadn’t had any harassing comments in many years (maybe I’m too old). But, then, in Texas a little over a year ago, had two harassing comments in one weekend. When I went back to Texas in August, I didn’t get harassed at all. Maybe it was too hot to harass. I generally try to ignore the stupid men out then, because we all know they’re out there. I’m just kind of surprised this is a common occurrence in Seattle, where I thought more men were a bit more enlightened.

  42. It is so infuriating to not respond to sh*tty comments spoken while out and about. I loved this. I couldn’t agree with you more! Bravo hun! <3 from a fellow Walker.

  43. So, I’m a photographer in West Virginia and I like to go out hiking on photo excursions. Even though I try to get people to come with me they usually don’t follow through, so I go alone, and I pretty well prefer it that way. It’s nice that you bring these things up because I have to deal with these questions constantly: “You don’t go walking alone in the woods do you?” “You need to carry a gun.” “You don’t need to go out alone like that.” “You know so-and-so a while back was kidnapped in [insert local area] recently.” And it’s just because I’m a woman. Fact is, I can’t not go–it’s my job. At some point it’s important to go for it and do what has to be done, alone if necessary and if you like, because it’s a free country and if you die, that’s it. I’d rather have died having gone on a hike any day than cooped up in the house or at work, waiting for the opportunity for someone to take me for a walk like a damn dog. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

  44. Reblogged this on Ruminating Feminist and commented:
    This does a great job of opening a discourse about walking in Seattle as a woman. I personally don’t feel safe in Seattle walking down my block, let alone several miles by myself. By allowing this behavior of men to continue we are perpetuating the the idea that women shouldn’t walk alone at night without actually confronting the problem. Everyone, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. should feel safe walking through this city at night. It’s sad that most people, myself included, do not.

  45. Courtney , keep walking with your head held high : ). It’s too bad soooo many people feel the need to be mean cause they can . But what come around goes around ; ) . Mean people beware ! Karma will get you : )

  46. The problem is the assholes who do this shit, never hear that it is wrong. Never truely understand it anyway. This shouldn’t be an issue about men or women, skinny, fat, straight, gay. It is an issue of humanity. There needs to be a solution to this no matter what the specifics are.

  47. you are either fuckable, suckable, fatable, or laughable..
    I relate, I really do. Go to a store buy a really good water pistol that does not leak. Fill it with extra hot chili oil. Next time you can respond. I did and it changed my life.

  48. I’m always interested in the experiences of other people. As a SWM, I never think for a moment about my personal safety. It sucks that others do.

    Of course not all men are like that. Unfortunately, the world is full of insecure, weak men. They’re a different breed, and easy to spot, if you’re another male. We have a very prescribed pecking order that is enforced in groups. When weak men congregate, the highest POS in the group combines his tiny penis with this big mouth. This “pseudo-machismo” makes them feel superior to the typically physically and mentally weak people they prey upon. Trust me, they don’t even try this behavior with strong people because they are the bottom of the barrel.

    As a man, this never happens to me, but my strategy when dealing with this type of “man” is to ALWAYS engage. While I understand the writer’s reasons for not engaging, (she is most wise and prudent) this non-reaction guarantees the behavior will continue and be inflicted upon other non-deserving people.

    These guys all need to be confronted at least once–they need to get kicked in the boys. They need to feel the way they make others feel. If they’re going to be weak, insecure men, then they need to be silent and unaggressive weak, insecure men. As far as I’m concerned, these “men” are free targets, well hit. I’m tired of “men” like this that make the rest of us look bad.

  49. It isn’t just a dialogue about walking in Seattle. It is also a dialogue about walking in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, LA, and Redwood City. It is about being female. It is about the people who don’t have the humanity to treat everyone with respect. It is about the need to take back so much…
    Well said.

  50. Coming from a female who walks all over Seattle (I also much prefer walking to the unpredictability of public transportation), THANK YOU for writing this. I have countless stories I wish I didn’t have locked away in my mind. I guess most women do. It’s definitely nice to not feel like you’re the only person in the world who can’t walk down a street withought getting heckled and harassed. Thanks again and take care ~

  51. Reblogged this on Pheonic Chicken Mystery School and commented:
    all of this!
    “I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not feeling like I can say anything to the jerks* that yell at me. Like I can’t react. And that I can’t even share that this experience happens daily with supposed allies. Not all men shout at me from cars. But the ones that do shout at me are the ones that make it unsafe to walk in my city. And you telling me that not all men do that doesn’t make my walk, or drive, or existence safer. It makes it more challenging to say, “This happened and it was wrong.” It makes it harder to call out this behavior for what it is – misogynistic, sexist, rape culture bullshit behavior. I don’t care that not all men are like this. I care that it happens. That it continues to happen. That it’s common. That it’s so common that when I hear a woman start talking about it with other women, those women can point to at least one similar incident that’s happened to them in the past two weeks.”

  52. Court M – Be what you are – relish it all – do your thing — I applaud you walking — my silly advice ==> own it and laugh when people disparage — say, ‘I am doing fine – be well ” Throw your head back an laugh – make true friends and let the nonsense that other mean or troubled nobheads spew at you roll off your back — stay good and be strong enough to consider other’s thoughts and discard them – Their rudeness is their issue – not yours. Be who you are – be joyous – smile – laugh – and damn them or raise them to higher aspirations with you grand blissful self . Get a kick out of it– you are you — they have nothing to do with you — give love for rudeness and aspire == love to you alissa

  53. This article expresses my feelings exactly. This happens to me all. the. time. I thought it was because I lived in a college town. It never ceases to amaze me that men feel entitled to say mean things to a complete stranger for no reason other than to hurt and intimidate. Seriously, do these people have nothing more important to be doing?

  54. I love in Portland and love going on walks in the mornings and evenings- I am female and I am fat, but the reason for my walks is to keep my heart healthy and my mind stress free. Especially the 2nd one! I’ve had men roll down their windows and yell all kinds of obscenities and once even throw shells from pistachio nuts at me! Like you, I ignored all of them for fear that anything I said or did would just make it worse for me. One time a guy started following me so I cut thru to a 1-way street so he couldn’t follow. Like you, I hate that we have to be the careful, quiet take all the BS and return none ones, that we have to be the ones to fear what might happen. You’d think in this century human beings had advanced enough to know right from wrong but I guess stupid will just forever be stupid and we just have to deal with it! Thanks for sharing! :-)

  55. really like this, especially the fact which you point out–that when you say you feel unsafe as a woman, people tend to shift the focus to the intentions of the men and their actions.

  56. Thanks for writing this. I hope one day your walks will become more enjoyable. Even tho the message was not super encouraging (I know it was not the purpose) I just wanted to let you know I will start walking home from work because of you. Thanks!

  57. I am so sorry that you have to endure hateful language from the idiots you cite. Congratulations on your decision to reclaim YOUR time and discover your city.

  58. Thank you. I am a not-small person who loves being outside. The yelling, the comments or whistles, and the betting made to feel unsafe or targeted because I am outside running or walking by myself is completely unacceptable. But just as unacceptable is having friends or family making all of those comments you mentioned above as well. Thank you for putting it into words.

  59. YOU, my dear, are one strong woman to stand up against this! It happens to all of us and it’s painful, scary and highly unnecessary. Thank you for sharing your awesomeness and now is my turn to share your message…. xo

  60. I am sorry that this has happened to you. Yes, it sucks. When did good manners disappear? I guess it’s been years now. I really can’t remember the ‘tip your hat and smile nice’, way of life like I had in my hometown of Lousiville Ky back in the 50’s and 60’s. When did it all change? My experience of being fat and female (especially as a non-traditional student in college) was the “I don’t see you–you are not here” variety, but at lerast there were no comments or threats.

  61. You got it! One day I made the mistake of taking a walk, alone, wearing a charity t-shirt. The charity was the “Make a Wish” foundation. I got more than four comments in six miles.

    As for ignoring them, that’s what I do, too, but one of my friends, a good-looking young male, heard some young men say something about him as he ran by, and he stopped and said to them without the least bit of anger in his voice, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that. Did you say something about my ass?” They balked. “I thought it was something about it being too big for the sidewalk? I certainly didn’t intend to offend you. I’ll be sure to measure it next time.” And off he ran.

    So sometimes I like to ignore them and then after they are safely behind me I fantasize about what would happen if I stopped and engaged in a perfectly literal conversation with them, as if they are helpful experts on all things asshole and I am a lost novice. (“Oh, you think I’m too fat for this dress? I wish I had more of your help. Can I drop by your house every morning to get your input? You never know. I might be able to teach you something, too. Like tact. Because clearly there’s nothing to work with in the empathy department.”)

  62. Not a blogger, but I will gladly re-share this on facebook. Thank you for sharing your story, and you’re completely right on two counts: the best thing you can do to leave them unsatisfied and keep yourself safe is ignore them, and people need to know that being a better person isn’t just about not perpetrating those behaviors, its about standing up against them. Being a woman is only part of the problem, the rest is feeling like we are alone in this fight. There’s power in numbers, regardless of gender.

  63. Thanks for sharing your experience about this, as one of those “men” you mention above, I’m not even going to say that “we’re not all like that,” but I will add that I’ve been a victim too.

    And I’m a big guy, 6″1, 230-250lbs and a former rugby player now track cyclist, living in England.

    The typical and random drive-by abuse I get at night, walking by myself is usually “Gaaaaay!” (which I’m not and have no problem with anyway), or during the daytime “Hey! Baldie!”. I don’t know what inspires these ‘fuckwits’ to say these things when we try to just mind our own business (excuse the language, by the way), but if they’re consciously choosing to hurl abuse like that from a car they are clearly going places in life…

    Keep telling your story. People do care, good luck with your training.

  64. Can you start recording your walks (and hopefully catch what people yell at you)? Compile it into an audio file of what Seattle yells at you. Publish that shit. That will get some attention. More importantly, you should be able to share your experiences, your frustrations, and also feel safe doing so. And hopefully, have it make some positive change.

  65. When Golda Meir was the Israeli Minister of Labor, the cabinet was discussing ways to deal with a rash of attacks on women in the streets. One cabinet member suggested a curfew banning women outside after dark. Meir slammed that idea, stating that since men were the ones doing the attacking, the curfew should be imposed on men!

  66. I’m sorry go through that. Seattle is one of the most walkable cities in the country. None should have to put up with that level of abuse.

  67. Drop the walking and add a wheelchair and this is my life ever time I leave my home and take to the sidewalks. “If you’d get up and walk, maybe you wouldn’t be so fat!” “Hey chickie! While yer down there…”

    I’ve a mouth on me and there are times when I lash out. I just don’t fucking care anymore. There are days when I’d welcome a chance to use my extendable baton for its intended purpose. Fat shaming and fat mockery are just as cruel as any other prejudice.

  68. Thank you so much for writing this! You so eloquently and clearly articulate the many thoughts and feelings I have about walking out in public as a woman, especially at night. It’s really sad and unfortunate but my first thought when reading this was, “wow I’d NEVER walk alone at night, especially not for that long.” I don’t mean to imply that I’m doing the “right thing” by not walking alone at night because I don’t think that’s true and like you said, it’s not a choice for many women. My reaction was based on the fact that not walking at night is the best way FOR ME (not everyone) to cope with street harassment/violence against women. For me, I would be so terrified that I would literally end up losing sleep over my nightly walks and it wouldn’t be worth it – and fortunately I don’t have a job/situation where I must be out alone at night. Still it sucks that I have to be in this position and “decide” that limiting my independence is better for my mental health. I know that for other women, the opposite would be true. There’s really no wrong way to cope with this – the only part of this situation that’s wrong is the misogyny – not the way women react to and cope with it.

  69. Oy, yes, this sucks. Happens to me as well (I’m a man). Probably happens to most men. Can’t tell you how hurtful it is when women and men at work talk about my weight etc. behind my back or to my fave, and defend it by either telling me they are joking or say that I need to “man up” and not get offended.

    Never ascribe to sexism what you can ascribe to general shitty human beingness, at least that’s what I’m learning.

    Be well!

  70. Courtney you rock! Finally, there’s someone who dares to be different in our female species. I’m in NYC, ride a bike to get around, put my shopping in my basket, and have short hair without a helmet and this combination seems to drive many people mainly women nuts. I hear many comments that I as well ignore because I am in my world doing my thing and getting shit done rather than just being clustered like a sardine in the packed train and like being different and independent. I find I’d rather be on my bike and make never ending missions than get on the train which makes me melancholy..

    The amount of pedestrians and car drivers who make comments I ignore is staggering. Granted everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I realize I enjoy NYC is becoming ever more gentrified each year..

    When I see a woman on her bike, I am happy whether she acknowledges me or not because she is dng something as well for our planet and staying active. I’ve never seen so many haters in a place:)

    You go Courtney!

  71. As a male, and in a fairly “progressive” city it saddens me that you have to deal with this. I too feel uncomfortable walking our streets at night, but it is driven by an irrational paranoia rather than any actual occurrences (heightened more so in the last year as I have started taking the bus to work on a daily basis, and find myself on the streets at late hours). Thanks for sharing your experiences, and while I don’t know what I would do if I saw this happening (even though disgusting, I believe I would struggle to intervene much for the same reasons you identified).. This was a very eye opening post.

  72. This happens to me too. I’m glad you pointed out that a car is a weapon. I’m not fat, and I am old. I get harassed by men in my neighborhood, whether they are on foot, in a car or on a tractor. Fighting back just makes the situation more dangerous, b/c they feel as if they have to win, and they will escalate the situation to a dangerous level.

  73. I’m another fat female walker. It started 2 and a half years ago when my car’s repairs got too much. I’ve only ever gotten one comment, thankfully. I’m wondering if it might be a problem especially Seattle has, actually. I live 100 miles north in Bellingham, but I used to live in the Seattle area. Where I got comments. All. The. Time. I drove back then, but even walking my dog or from the car to the store, I’d get it.

  74. My brother posted this on FB, and his wife reposted.I am currently working nights at the Seattle Center, and having to walk to catch buses. The other night, I missed every one, and was at a bus stop in the Rainier Valley at 1:30 am. A guy drove by, staring, and then came back the other direction, leaning over his seat to stare. I called my husband and asked him to stay on the phone with me until the bus came. Thank the powers that be that my husband grew up down here, and has friends at the local precinct. If I call and something happens, or I take too long to get home, he will call the police.

  75. I appreciated the honesty in this article, though I can’t say I enjoyed reading it. As a (fairly) newly feminist-minded man, I think this post was helpful for drawing out a few things. For one, you’re right in saying it’s not enough to say “not all men are like that”–my gut reaction. After all, the goal should be to change those who do, not simply keep the status quo for myself “not doing that.”

    Second, I’m astonished that this happens as regularly as you say. I’m not at all suggesting it doesn’t–what I’m trying to get at it is that we–everyone–need[s] articles like this to know that things like this are happening. This kind of behavior is unacceptable.

    Third, as someone who likes to have an action-plan: what do we do? How do we change a culture where this kind of behavior is seen as acceptable by those who do it? How do we change a culture to realize that this is happening? How do we show that it’s not enough to not be part of the problem?

    Thanks for this post. I found it very enlightening.

  76. You are a person walking from point A to point B.
    And if you are able to walk four miles, you are in better shape than the average american.
    It sounds like Seattle is overun with shitheads.

  77. I deal with this everyday too, in Brooklyn. Not the fat part, but the white female. It’s scary when they are making it clear they see you as a sexual object, over and over again. Especially cause it’s often the same groups of men. I walk about 9 blocks from my apartment to the train stop (and back again at night). I’m afraid one day they will just decide “today’s the day!” and drag me to an alley. Sometimes I walk in the street, just outside of the parked cars. Often I wear specifically long coats or baggy sweat pants home from the gym on purpose…regardless, I’ve never been so thankful to be flat chested. Sad as it is, I’m pretty sure that might be the only thing saving me.

    Here are my usual statements:
    1. Hey sweet thing
    2. Come on girl, let me call you
    3. Mm mm gorgeous
    4. (no words just walking more and more uncomfortably close to me)
    5. Lookin sexy today sugar
    6. I know you walk ’round here just for me

    Why they feel they have the right to speak to me like that, I will never understand. It’s not flattering, it’s obnoxious and completely frightening. Thank you for sharing this. It’s really nice to vent.

  78. This was great. It makes me think of a conversation that took place at our dinner table the other day. My daughter (who is 17, 6’1″, and used to dealing with this kind of crap) was telling this story about some dickweed grabbing her butt while she was walking through Pioneer Square in broad daylight. “I tried to punch him but it didn’t connect, so I yelled ‘FUCK OFF’ but he just laughed.” Her little brother, who is 13, asks, “Didn’t anybody do anything? Did anybody see it?” And she says, “Oh yeah, but nobody cares. There was this one guy standing there, and he asked me what happened, and I said, ‘He just grabbed my butt!’ and then HE started leering at me too, and I was like, SERIOUSLY?!” After she finishes ranting about how her body is NOT there for other people’s enJOYment, and even if they LIKE it that DOESN’T MEAN they get to TOUCH it, for FUCK’S sake (and so on), her brother says, “Wow. I’m glad I’m not a girl.” Then, after a pause: “But I guess it was men that did that stuff, right? So maybe it’s NOT that great to be a man.” It was kind of heartbreaking on many levels, but I was glad he was recognizing a) how much it SUCKS to be treated this way, b) that it’s so commonplace, girls don’t even expect anyone to care, and c) that even though he’s ostensibly on the “winning” side of this power imbalance, he’s still hurt by the dynamic it creates.

  79. Well said! Thank you from another human that is fat and female and heard a lot of that ugliness, too. *sharing*

  80. i was once accosted in a convenience store while with my ex-husband, who is a man of color. the kid was a neighborhood punk that i’d known since he was in diapers. he made a comment about my breasts, and my ex told him, as politely as possible, to get a life. he threatened to beat up my ex, and when we left the store he was outside in a car with 2 or 3 of his buddies that started calling him names, relating to his race. we walked home, only about 5 minutes or so, and he followed us, repeatedly making comments as he drove by. when we got home, he screeched to a halt outside my father’s house, and kept up yelling and threatening to inflict violence on my ex and myself. my father came outside, saw what was happening, and walked to the back of the car to get a license plate number, and they started harassing him for having a son (my youngest brother) that was homosexual. i saw my dad buckle under that harassment. physically, his stature dropped, he turned and walked inside, clenching his jaw. he was never the same about my brother after that. didn’t stop loving or supporting him as much as he could, but he didn’t stand up for him anymore, in public or when a relative made a rude comment.

    this kind of bullying happens to everyone, sometime, on some level. it’s a sickness that rages all over the world. why can’t we just love and accept each other as we are?

    this was a great story. one i’ve lived many times. thanks for putting into words what i couldn’t.

  81. Thank you for your post. I think I should preface this comment by acknowledging that I’m a man, and so while I can react to the behavior of other men with anger and sympathize for your experience, I can never understand it at the level that you and other women do, and thus I can never respond adequately. For me, it wasn’t new reading that other men do terrible things, or that life frequently sucks for women. I was raised by a feminist mother and her friends and I DO believe I avoid much of the problems that you do simply because I’m male. But during your description, I also found myself reacting in the way that you eventually criticized so strongly. I wanted to say that it’s not ALL of use who are assholes. And then you beat me to it, and I found myself wondering why I initially wanted to say exactly what you didn’t want to hear.

    I’ve never experienced anything like what you described above, but I know that it happens to women around the world. I don’t associate with men who do anything like what you described, likely because those kinds of people aren’t good friends for children of feminists. I’ve never found myself in a situation in which I’ve consciously promoted sexism or have even allowed it to happen, but I live in a world in which men–a broad category which I can’t easily escape–are responsible for the majority of morally reprehensible actions. And for some reason that makes me feel responsible, even if I can’t articulate why or even realize that I feel responsible much of the time. But, that responsibility is important, because it makes me feel guilty when I hear about these types of situations, and it makes me feel as though I’m doing something wrong, despite consciously trying to live my life in a way that rejects sexism in any way possible. So when I hear stories like these, my guilt resurfaces, and I desperately want you, or whoever else is telling me the story, to believe that that’s not me. I want you to believe that there ARE good men, and that I’m one of them. And in those moment of self-doubt and sometimes even self-loathing, I feel attacked, and I forget that YOU are the one who was actually attacked. So, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. There are good men, but we need to get over our guilt and learn to respond with kindness rather than defensiveness.

  82. Brilliant read, thank you! (And I also had to realize that “Fucktard” could seem hurtful to some and modify my use of it – I find “Fuckturd” works just as well ;) )

  83. I’ve noticed two things about those kinds of objectionable comments: 1) They almost always come from men or boys in groups, rarely from a male alone, and 2) The insults and crude suggestions are never directed at women who are accompanied by a man, so many otherwise goodhearted men have never witnessed the problem. I think that it’s some kind of twisted macho contest that stupid and immature men and boys (I’ve been heckled by groups of boys that look as if they’re still in middle school) to see who can make the woman react. If the woman reacts, the one who has made her react “wins.” That’s why the best advice is the old advice to just ignore the bozos. In addition, the more intelligent and mature men of the world need to take the bozos in hand and teach them that women are not just objects for their amusement.

  84. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m always shocked & embarrassed when I read that so many males act like this. It was really hard for me to imagine so many men are like this but I’ve heard these stories so many times that I have no doubt they’re very true & thing are worse that I can imagine. (I’ve heard similar stories from gamers but you have the added risk of physical harm.) I wish I could do something about this but so far all I’ve been able to do is make sure my daughter has had self-defense training.
    I wish you well,

  85. I’m reposting this on FB, but I’d also like to add that being a woman, fat, and older is the Trifecta of abuse. You’re not young and nubile anyone your just a “hag.”

  86. Being a woman means that I already feel unsafe 50% of the time.
    I worked in the city and stopped taking the train because of late hour dangers. I moved to an upscale, gated community an hour and a half away for a sense of safety and serenity and my favorite thing to do was walk to the beach and sit alone at night. Until one man took that away.

    Maybe not all men are like that, but it only takes one.

  87. I’m sorry to hear these men give you a hard time. I think most women can relate to you too, just for existing you get called whatever it is they feel like saying. Let me tell you a story, there was this one time when in the next block to where I live there was construction work going on. Everytime I had to walk past it (minimum twice a day, máximum the sky is the limit) I would get verbally harassed each time. Then when summer arrived (hey I live in Barcelona, wearing a mini skirt is normal), you can imagine all the yelling and whistling going on. So one day I was in a bad mood, and when they started I turned around and shouted: Right, listen to me, I live here, so I have to walk past here all the time. I will not tolerate anyone else shouting things at me. I want to walk in peace, plus what I wear is DEFINITELY NOT to attract your attention. If I ever hear another shout directed at me I will contact your superiors and lodge a complaint for harassment.
    Guess what? They never expected that, got a shock, kicked up a mini 30 second stink, then never said a word to me again after that. Thank goodness. However that only worked because these were the same people everyday….
    You are right, there is no reason for us to feel unsafe just because we are walking somewhere.

  88. Was running today, feeling good. Near the end of the 4 miles I ran by a bus stop. A male voice says loudly, She looks pretty good for her size/weight. Really? Did I ask your opinion? I felt like saying a lot of things, including, You are stupid and entitled at every weight.
    But I kept running, and maybe my anger helped my pace. And I decided to share this instead of just keep it in.

  89. I am so glad I am a dude. We really don’t think that much about this stuff. Get up in the morning, piss, take a shower (If we smell), eat, go to work, eat, work some more, pee, come home, eat, play video games, pee/poo, sleep. Its simple really.

  90. I can relate to what you go through. I am on the very heavy side myself and because of that men have called me vicious names due to what I look like. But not just men ; sometimes women too. The worst part is feeling like you hate your insides as much as out. But what you look like is not who you are. It’s what you said , your strength your determination, your will to just keep walking.

  91. Great post. I agree entirely. Women are in a Catch-22. If you walk around in public (chancy behavior, I know), you subject yourself to frequent, loud commentary, at the least, no matter the shape of your body. I don’t have a solution, but I share in your displeasure with this state of affairs.

  92. I feel for you. It is sad you can’t walk without people being rude. I remember being in England and found the same there at night – many men thinking it was okay to be insulting or vulgar. I live in a small town in Ontario, Canada – thank goodness I don’t experience this – but I don’t go out much at night – and if I do I have a big dog. Good for you for being strong (emotionally) I admire that! Keep walking and holding your head high. The idiots that yell are showing their ignorance. And karma will get them!

  93. ” “You must remember, it isn’t about “All men are menaces to women,” it’s about “All women have been menaced by men.” ”

    The best ever response to the ‘not all men!’ crusade. If it’s not about you, stop making it about you.”

  94. When my sister returned to the States after six months of wayfaring abroad she remarked to me that if she had to choose a single word to describe men in general, the word would be “shithead.”

    She did not hasten to add that “not all men are like that.”

  95. OMG that is shitty. I have to say that although I have been a ‘bigger lady’, I have never experienced this, nor has anyone in my acquaintance, although my mother did used to get really offended being asked ‘when is it due’ regularly. I would probably shout something back, but I do think it would be better not to unfortunately- I mean those people are obviously crazy.
    I do live in the UK though, and have lived in Canada. I think the US sounds like a horrible place to live, for pretty much anyone, but especially anyone who varies from the accepted ‘norm.’

  96. Excellently well put. It bothers me to no end that this continues to be a problem in our culture, and a problem that people seem particularly keen to belittle. I stumbled across this project a few years ago, and you may be interested in it as well. They’re working on an international level to map and end street harassment. http://www.ihollaback.org/

  97. I certainly wouldn’t want to say “Not all men are like this.” Too many are, and too many are complacent because they haven’t walked in or even alongside your shoes. I’ve seen versions this in several countries too often, albeit not in the context of perceived fatness. “You’re too young to be out at this time of night.” And so on. More than once, I’ve had to spend the night in hospital after being asked by strangers to intervene verbally, partly because I angered the aggressor by refusing to strike back, because that would have provided him with an easy self-justification.

    However, when I became an immigrant in the US, I was astonished by the sheer range of differences that could lead to shouting, intimidation and violence. Cycling, for example. In this rustbelt town, cycling seemed to be perceived as an attack on manhood and Americanism. Class warfare would break out, with full cans of beer being thrown at my head, unexpected shouting in my ear amid busy traffic, being driven off the road, and so on. Cycling is offensive? I stopped doing it.

    Women can have a hard time of it anywhere, but the phenomena you describe seem to be far more commonplace in the US. Men seem to feel entitled, more than in many other developed countries, and angry that their entitlement is challenged. Moreover, there are so many things that lead to American men blowing a gasket. Given how many of these men pump iron or carry guns, the streets of America can be frightening places for anyone. Those who can afford to do so, hide in their cars and pretend that all is well by forgetting why they take their SUV for granted.

    I have no idea how the cultures of manliness and/or Americanness can be modified, but this is one of those things, like pervasive unconscious or institutional racism, that strikes many foreigners when they come here. And these poisonous cultures are by no means confined to conservatives or rednecks. Exclusion and inclusion are at the heart of American society, and they always have been.

    I wish you good luck with your determined refusal to stand down.

  98. I thought I lived in a terrible place, but now I’m just glad that I don’t live in Seattle. What’s wrong with people, that they think it’s okay to act like that? To anybody?

    I weigh 260 and I walk a lot, too. But if I thought I’d run into people like that, I’d seriously consider staying home and aiming for 300. Now that I think of it, when I was a teen somebody did throw an egg at me from their car while I was walking on the street. And somebody else threw a lit M-80 at me once. But that was long ago, and far from here.

    I’ll think more kindly of my city, from now on.

  99. What a wonderful article.
    Of course, not all men are like this but I totally agree that this argument detracts from the fact that SOME ARE.
    Its the same disgusting rape culture bullshit that people have to deal with everyday.
    Being a fat girl makes it all the more confusing for the dickheads out there. They never seem to be able to decide whether they want to fuck us or fight us.

  100. Years ago I lived in Hollywood and managed a 24 hour company. I understand late night public transit problems! I frequently found myself walking down Hollywood Blvd at 4:00am. While at the time I probably only weighed 100 lbs soaking wet, I experienced many of the scenarios you described…I once had someone shove a dollar at me in disgust and tell me get something to eat! (Um really?! What the hell?). When I gained a few pounds (all in the stomach first of course) I can’t even begin to count the number of complete strangers who felt free to ask when I was due (I got over the mortification after the first twenty or so and started replying “not pregnant, just fat” – my inner bitch thoroughly enjoyed spreading awkward!). I think in general people can be completely rude, mostly without malice, but then again there are jerks everywhere! I’ve come to appreciate the experiences of others, and the knowledge that I’m not alone, adrift in a sea of idiots…thanks for sharing yours, and for the gentle reminder to be kind!

  101. I love you. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It can change the world we live in :) I used to live in Seattle & walked a lot. One of the best cities for walking, day & night! Make it more so!

  102. This is excellent. I will never understand how some people (men or women) think it’s acceptable to say so many of the things they say to other human beings. I think when people say “not all men are like that” it’s a defense mechanism: they don’t want to be associated with men like that, or they don’t want good men they know to be associated with men like that… but you’re right. Simply saying that doesn’t help, which you’ve illustrated perfectly here. Great post!

  103. You know, I never really looked at it that way. I walk a lot, I’m a student and between campus life, work, and a bad smoking habit, it helps me save money on gas. I also enjoy it for the physical fitness and the peace it brings me inside of my head. But day or night I have found myself in situations where I was very offended, uncomfortable, and very afraid for my well being. The only reason I discovered my favorite gay bar was because I was being followed by three guys downtown around bar close. I went for the first well lit place with people I could find when they took every turn I did for several blocks and started cat calling. At the time, I just figured it was my own damn fault for taking the risk to walk so late. But I guess it’s just occurring to me via this blunt and disheartening blog that even that is an incorrect way to think. That should not be the case. Yes, it is. Yes, it’s unrealistic to expect anything more than ‘men like that’ sporadically harassing our comfort zones. No matter how many decent men I know, every girl I know has experienced something similar to this sort of lewd and discomforting provocation, if not worse. I get that most people understand this behavior is not the norm and that is deplorable, but as a society we still expect it. We still anticipate it and tip toe around it. In spite of a majority disapproval, by expecting women to ‘know better’ than to walk by themselves or without the token guy friend, by dismissing these instances or shaking off blatant disrespect in exchange for a larger possibility of safety, we are unanimously saying we are okay with this behavior. And, the catch-22 is to defy this piss poor standard does in fact jeopardize our well being.

    1. You are a beacon, friend. Do your best to teach the boys around you how to be decent to a lady and treat all women as ladies. Speak up when you hear other men talk about a woman like she was a piece of meat or a sex object. And speak praise of men who get it right. Never be ashamed. Be a model for good behavior.

  104. I absolutely love this, so many very important points! I am in the customer service industry and also like to walk home after late nights. I am constantly being told, mostly by male friends and colleagues that I am too feisty for my own good. My “problem” is that I’m too pro equality. If I see any kind of bullying, taunting, aggressiveness or violence, whether it’s directed toward a friend or a stranger in the street I feel so completely compelled to do or say something. One of the most common things I hear is “don’t assume just because you’re a woman a man won’t hit you” and don’t get me wrong I believe as a woman that if you are violent towards a man you can’t expect him not to retaliate however if for example (and it’s happened to me before) I’m out for the eve and I see a guy hit his girlfriend I can’t help but do SOMETHING. What you made me remember is that when you’re alone, walking home at 3am you are fearful as a woman despite the situation. Thank you for voicing this and reminding us that this should not be the case, male or female we should all be allowed to walk freely, safely and without judgement.

  105. Thank you so much for your insight. I’m sorry many men are like that. I’m not sure I can do anything about it, but thank you for sharing, they are good things to be aware of and sensitive to

  106. Very well said. I think what “not all men are like that!” does is not only dismiss the bad behavior as trivial — “I’m not like that, so it doesn’t matter!” — it also takes your account of the difficulties of your life and makes it about the listener’s own ego and feelings. And the fact that women don’t feel like they CAN talk to guys about this specifically is part of why the behavior continues… because the “good guys” are complicit in it when they don’t recognize it for what it is and call it out, and moreso when they try to tell you your experiences aren’t real or aren’t really a problem. I think a lot of women have stopped even relating these experiences to men in their lives because we all know what we’ll be told… “well what were you wearing?” or “why were you out that late at night” or “I’m sure it doesn’t happen that often” or whatever. Being completely ignored on the topic by guys who supposedly care about you is almost worse than the random verbal assaults from strangers.

  107. Its terrible that this is just seen as the norm, that women should ignore it, expect it, get on with it. Though the Everyday Sexism Project (http://everydaysexism.com/) is gaining massive support online to tackle the normalisation of sexism and harassment such as this, hopefully progress will soon be made to at least acknowledge the extent to which women are harassed on a daily basis.

  108. I remember walking to school one day and some guy grabbed my butt and ran off. It’s too easy to be violated and abused while walking. There has to be a way to change these things.

  109. This is the second article I’ve read on Seattle and it’s shitty inhabitants today. I am so sorry this happens. You should be able to walk, jog, run wherever you want, whenever you want, and people should keep their opinions to themselves. Yelling from cars? Really, guys? You are a much stronger person than I am; I don’t think I’d be able to keep my mouth from spitting some venom that would probably end badly.
    Hugs–and I agree, you don’t get a cookie for not being a douchebag! People should treat other people with respect, regardless of gender or anything else.

  110. Reblogged this on and commented:
    This is an amazing post and I am happy that it is my first share on my blog. It is worthy of the read, and important to understand.

  111. Usually I’d only expect the phrase “not all men are like that” if you had said something like “this thing happened and ugh all men are such jerks”. But in actually reading your post, it does not sound as though that was the case, and I don’t understand why anyone would say “not all men are like that” if you said “I encountered sexual harassment today”. It’s as if they weren’t even listening to your story and just assumed you’re a man-hater because you didn’t like that a guy was inexplicably rude to you.
    So when I first saw the title of your post, my eyes narrowed suspiciously, since it does make a difference that not all men are like that – but no, I agree with you. It DOESN’T make a difference when no one is trying to do anything about the men who ARE like that. Honestly, with the proportions, it might be more appropriate to say “not all men are like that” when talking about the courteous or at least non-harassing.

  112. Oh my god! What town and city do you live in? Im so sorry! I understand harassment and never feeling safe when guys wanna talk to me or touch me. Except for being called bitch or something, I dont get insults like that though!I had NO idea men will be that judgmental. This is disgusting. Im sorry!!

  113. huge respect for this post. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the everdaysexism project? Its a space for women to catalogue their experiences with sexism (such as your own). The founder, like yourself was sick of having her complaints regarding sexism belittled. It’s been successful in the UK in drawing media attention to the fact that incidents of sexism occur on such a huge scale that they can’t just be dismissed as one off incidents. The aim is to show that such sexist behaviour is a societal issue that needs dealing with (no this is not saying that its all men, but that the minority is significant enough to be a serious problem). Unless you have a clear idea of how prevalent the issue is, how can we fight it?

    http://everydaysexism.com/

  114. This is my life.i bike all the time while fat with my children in tow. I often get yelled at, bitch, cunt, fat ass, over and over. I have had people take my picture from there car as they drive by. I also totally hate the you can do it bs. Fuck you. I’m not doing this to lose weight, I’m doing this because I enjoy it.

  115. This is an incredible piece. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree with you, and I too don’t feel safe walking alone at certain times and in certain parts of my hometown – it’s sad, really. Being a woman shouldn’t make it unsafe for us to go wherever we please whenever we please and it hurts to know that fact if untrue. Sometimes I want to wear a cute outfit because I think it’s cute, but that is NOT an invitation to be stared at with creeper eyes or whistled and hollered at. It’s NOT a compliment. It’s disgusting. Again, thank you for sharing this. Your strength is inspiring!

  116. Beautifully written and I love your thoughts on the male and female gender roles. It’s true women have a lot more to worry about than men, and we always have to be carful because they will dehumanizes us time and time again. It makes them feel better, and I’m glad you know that so it doesn’t get to you.

    Side note: I live in Seattle as well! Since you love walking/running I suggest Greenlake Park (if you’ve lived here a while you probably have already been). It’s a great place to run and find your “quiet place” in your head! Great place to write as well.

    Keep on keepin on! Thanks for sharing.

  117. Good article. On the one hand, women of any size, dressing, or gender identification are not asking to be harassed or aggressed upon, and on the other, women still have to take up for our own security because decency is not taught to the men who do the harassing and aggressing. We still live with this dichotomy however much we are taking back our streets and our lives.

    Keep going, friend. I weigh over 200 pounds myself and wear it well. I’m sorry you have to live with ignorant men out there. I have to live with ignorant men here, too. We just have to keep on keepin’ on. Much love and strength to you.

  118. I’ve been bigger for as long as i can remember. We live in a society where being fat is a sign of sloth- like and gluttonous behavior, regardless of our situation. And being a “fat kid”, I’ve heard every joke in the book. But at some point, we stop and take a look at ourselves and say “Yes, I’m fat. Whether i want to be skinny or not should not affect the respect i DESERVE as a person/woman.” Some people project their problems on fat people because we are all (stereotypically) unhappy in life and need to be treated as such. The possibility of happy fat girl is foreign and unacceptable…

  119. Where are the decent men? Why don’t they call out the jerks for their behaviour? This sickens me! Women should not have to “put up with it” nor limit the extent of their behaviour because of men’s inability to control themselves (yes, I know… in an ideal world).

  120. Nice, I’m sure you can tell you’ve said something that resonates with a lot of people from the comments and reblogs. Good on you, keep walking, don’t let them interfere with your time. I regularly jog around foreign cities I visit well past the ‘safe’ hours, and feel it is my right to do so, just as it is yours to walk where you like when you like. I hope nothing every happens to either of us, but if it does, I hope our families understand it wasn’t our fault and we shouldn’t be asked to limit our lives because the world has some screwups. Most of all, I hope we see each other out there some time. I’ll give you a knowing nod and carry on. Enjoy.

  121. I recently gave a speech, and instead of commenting on the speech or what I said, several of the women commented on my outfit and though I wore a long-sleeved shirt and scarf, one of the women commented pretty specifically about how my chest looked in the outfit. I can’t imagine that she gives that kind of feedback to the men in our organization. I believe it’s kindly intended, but I don’t really need her or anyone to shame me about my appearance while I try to work on my professional skills. I’m fortunate that none of the men in the organization felt the need to comment, officially or otherwise.

  122. A friend of mine shared this on facebook and I almost scrolled by it. I am so glad I didn’t. Thank you.

  123. I have to give you a round of applause! I loved this post! Yes, why do people just accept that this behavior of being verbally assaulted while walking is just one of the dangers of being a female and/or of walking at night? That’s messed up. I too, handle things your way, of just ignoring them, because yeah, telling someone who’s bothering you to fuck off isn’t worth it. But boy how I wish it was! Thank you for articulating something I can relate to, and for giving me some encouragement.

  124. I know this wasn’t the point of your article… but you’ve inspired me to go for a walk! To clear my head. And if anyone harasses me for being fat I will just walk on by.

  125. Reblogged this on Pippakin Talks Cats, Dogs, Teeth and Claws and commented:
    I love to walk in London I would walk miles to and from work or just because I felt it. There were incidents nothing serious enough to report to the police, well not until I was mugged and a fat lot of use the police were then, but nothing could put me off walking for long. I don’t walk as much now which is a shame because when I was younger and enjoying walking it was considered odd, now everyone either understands, knows or accepts that some of us just like to walk. Age and hips are catching up with me I can’t walk as often or as far as I used to and I miss it. Nice post.

  126. This is the most ferocious blog I’ve read in forever and it’s really great! What a bummer that people make it their duty to be shitty to others. If they could see themselves in action they might realize how ugly their own reality is..

  127. This seriously made me want to cry. I stopped walking because of things like this and other reasons. People have no idea how much their words can hurt. I used to walk 1-2 miles every night back when I was trying to lose weight. I was proud of myself that I went from not being able to walk more than a block to being able to walk a mile. But the car horns, the people coming up behind me asking me “how much for a good time”, pulling up asking if I wanted a ride, being cussed at ect..made me stop walking. It just wasn’t worth the trouble.

  128. Reblogged this on Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch and commented:
    Sing it, sista! Tell it like it is! The very fact that this happens is an insult to humanity. Conforming to the societal expectation of size is no protection, btw. Some guy I knew gave me a hug yesterday in broad daylight, during which I walked past him to get coffees, and because I was alone and because I had my hands full, he touched my ass. I told him if he ever did that again I was going to drop him like a bad habit. And this kind of crap is so commonplace that it didn’t even occur to me to mention it when I got home until I read this. You see, I guess I currently conform to the societal expectation of what women are supposed to look like. But I didn’t always. I was a geeky, pizza-faced, glassed, braced, and pudgy teen. You know, when your self-image is being formed. In my mind, I will always be that girl, a girl who became anorexic and bullemic before she rejected this bullshit utterly. Before my anorexia, I got comments like this. After anorexia, I got propositions (like “how much for a good time?”) Then I put the weight back on, and it was more shit like this. Then I discovered a gluten allergy, went off it, lost the weight again, and now I’m being sexually assaulted by people I know. How about THIS IS JUST NOT OKAY AND I’LL WALK WHEREVER AND WHENEVER I FUCKING WELL WANT, SO SHUT UP AND STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME?

  129. Sing it, sista! Tell it like it is! The very fact that this happens is an insult to humanity. Conforming to the societal expectation of size is no protection, btw. Some guy I knew gave me a hug yesterday in broad daylight, during which I walked past him to get coffees, and because I was alone and because I had my hands full, he touched my ass. I told him if he ever did that again I was going to drop him like a bad habit. And this kind of crap is so commonplace that it didn’t even occur to me to mention it when I got home until I read this. You see, I guess I currently conform to the societal expectation of what women are supposed to look like. But I didn’t always. I was a geeky, pizza-faced, glassed, braced, and pudgy teen. You know, when your self-image is being formed. In my mind, I will always be that girl, a girl who became anorexic and bullemic before she rejected this bullshit utterly. Before my anorexia, I got comments like this. After anorexia, I got propositions (like “how much for a good time?”) Then I put the weight back on, and it was more shit like this. Then I discovered a gluten allergy, went off it, lost the weight again, and now I’m being sexually assaulted by people I know. How about THIS IS JUST NOT OKAY AND I’LL WALK WHEREVER AND WHENEVER I FUCKING WELL WANT, SO SHUT UP AND STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME?

  130. Reblogged this on Part Time Monster and commented:
    It’s #feministFriday, and this absolutely deserves to be shared and read. Too often this kind of harassment happens, to too many women. It’s not harmless. It’s not fun or funny.

  131. I can relate, and I hate that I can relate. I don’t hate it because I’m overweight, too. I hate it because being able to relate means that people are idiot jerkfaces all across the country. I’ve dealt with it on the East Coast. I’ve dealt with it in the Midwest and the Deep South. And sadly, you deal with it on the West Coast. But you know what? I admire that you own your weight and keep doing it no matter what idiot jerkface decides it’s his (or her) right to comment on you. Keep on being awesome. You’ve made my faith in the better parts of humanity a little stronger with this post.

  132. People do have a right to walk, to not be harassed, to not have unwanted, unasked for fashion advice, etc. And you have the right to make those jerks famous. Great article. I’m sorry you get harassed.

  133. Hey, I see that you have a zillion posts to this, but I just wanted to say thank you. THANK YOU SOO MUCH! I am not fat, I’m the other type of female that gets overly harassed a lot on the street: very petite, like ‘hey, sweety, does you mom know you’re out this late’ kind of small. I walked to work today. I was contemplating having my boyfriend pick me up, thanks to this I will be walking with my head high though the shitty parts of town, because fuck them for taking away my right to do whatever I damn-well please. I get off at midnight on most nights, so I usually drive and people still offer to drive me to my car if I park more than 2 blocks away. I have been meaning to buying some good pepper spray, so I will now actually go do that and possibly bring a knife – but I will be walking! It’s the end of May, there is no reason I shouldn’t enjoy the weather!

  134. I am very sorry you are subject to this mindless behavior. As a man I am embarrassed to even be associated with the same set. Again I apologize for the entire stupid and mindless insensitive dolts that bother you.
    F

  135. Reblogged this on troublemakingpunk.org and commented:
    Yes, not all men harass women, but in so many sick ways, most men gain from that harassment because it decreases women’s comfort and flexibility when it comes to making choices about work and shifts, etc. Thank you so much for writing this. I want as many people as possible to see this.

  136. Thanks for your moving piece. I’ve walked a lot in my life (more on that in a moment) but right now am limited by disability and where I live (which is suburbs/country, with no sidewalks/streetlights/curbs and is filled with rocks/leaves/litter/debris on the sides of the roads and is virtually impossible to traverse). But I’ve shared your experience throughout my life, living in Montana (where I used to regularly walk home from my high school and had assholes in pickup trucks honk and whiz by and make terrible comments), Minneapolis/St. Paul for college (lots of grim stories there) and working/living in NYC. I feel conflicted about your silence and self-control, because while I agree with you that no feminist comment is worth losing your life over, I also feel like these men are relying on our silence and that silence is a way to let them know, even inadvertently, that they are getting to you. I teach my daughter that when someone hassles her, to confront them (she’s only twelve, almost thirteen, so it’s been going on for a little while, but in a more benign form currently) directly. She’s had plenty of experience defending other kids from bullies, and is very versed in bystander awareness.

    When she turns thirteen I’m taking her to a mother/daughter self-defense class, mostly because I have a feeling she’s not the kind of personality to put up with verbal crap from men. We are a pacifist family, but let’s just say that her favorite part of Harry Potter is when Hermoine punches Malfoy, and her favorite part of Thelma & Louise is when they blow up the trucker’s rig. It’s a different world for her than it was for me in many ways because I’ve showed her “Hollaback” and other websites where women fight back against this sort of thing, and there was no such support system for me in my teens/young adulthood.

    And right now I feel mostly invisible, due to the fact that I’m fat and also approaching 50 in one week. Men generally don’t harass me as they used to (aging is having an interesting component here for me). But in the past I mostly just shouted or screamed back; I honestly refused to put up with any of it. Occasionally I kept my mouth shut, like when the asshole in Manhattan mooed at me while I crossed the street in my brown velvet dress, or when a group of teen boys started barking at me while they were playing basketball in St. Paul. But I’ve gotten into plenty of shouting matches (probably not always a great idea) with men because I’m so, so tired of being silent.

    SOLIDARITY!!!

  137. I love how people can so off-handedly tell women that they shouldn’t walk at a certain time, or place, or wear that short skirt. Yes, some situations and actions are more dangerous than others, but that still doesn’t make it the victims fault. Nor can a woman make herself safe by following all the “rules.” I’ve ignored the same crap as you, and often in broad daylight in my own neighborhood. The problem is not the actions of women, but the violence and everyday rudeness towards women.

  138. Brilliantly written. Targeting someone (’cause that’s what it is) makes some people feel powerful, while it makes us (the people they somehow feel they have the right to humiliate) feel powerless. It is a ‘hate’ crime, in the same way it would be if they made a racist or homophobic comment. My daughter had a similar experience cycling home last year, she sounds like you, a big girl, fit and active. She had no hair at the time either, it had fallen out with no warning a couple of weeks earlier, just after her 18th birthday. We were told it could that could be due to a trauma 2 years earlier. Anyhow the kids in the park decided it was ok to shout abuse about her weight and being bald. So cruel. She ignored it, got out of the park and flagged down a passing police car. The officers then went and challenged the youngster’s took their details and threatened to charge them with harassment – it made her feel a little better knowing it was their turn to be humiliated! The only way I can think of that you could catch these people without putting yourself at risk would be to try and capture a recording, via CCTV in the street or maybe a discrete camera on you. But that’s hassle and I’m sure you don’t need it. I love the way you’ve expressed yourself. I would very much like to use the phrase you wrote “there’s no reasoning with stupid” on one of my journal pages – I’ll quote you as the author, if that’s ok with you.
    Love and good wishes, keep on walking, wish I could walk with you! Suz xxx

  139. Reblogged this on Emilie Hanson and commented:
    This struck a chord with me, as a female who just took a bike ride (but cut it short in order to get home before dark) and who has worked many late-night theatre jobs. I love that this woman takes the time to do something for herself every day and not for a flattering figure but for her mind and self-preservation. It’s a shame that not every woman feels like she can do this, even though we’re all probably strong enough.

  140. Thank you for writing this! I think there is a lot more to be said on JUST being “fat and female” (I certainly have my own stories), but no matter a woman’s size, you’re absolutely correct that just being a woman out and about automatically means you’re exposed to the proclivities of What’s Out There (that being of the male sex). Bravo to you for keeping on walking and for putting this out there.

  141. Wearing gym clothes, I sprinted by a homeless guy (3 or 4 trash bags, 6 layers of winter clothing) in an effort to catch a bus. “Every Day” he yelled. I turned around. “What?” “Every day, Fatass, you should be doing that every day.”

  142. It’s sad that women have to put up with this kind of thing. If I saw something like that, I’d probably end up dead, because I’d go after them. I may be old and gray, but I can pack a mean wallop with my umbrella. :) Keep talking about these things eventually it will improve.

  143. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t avoid walking where and when I wanted to. I’ve taken a lot of risks, including some that seemed measured (walking through a snowy park in Chicago instead of waiting at the liquor store bus transfer point in the middle of the night) and some that seemed plain stupid (waiting at said bus stop in better weather after 7 watermelon shots). My right to take the risks I choose won’t keep me any safer than the painted crosswalk will protect me from cars. Still, I’d rather risk and walk than allow my fear of being reminded I have tits (I do?!) hem in my life. Thanks, Courtney.

  144. Your size doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you are being harassed by men who think it’s ok to do so because you’re a woman. Guys need to stand up and let other guys know that this is not ok. That it is fundamentally wrong to make people feel unsafe in society. Not all men are dangerous or assholes, but a lot of us sit by while it happens or find ways to blame the victim. Until we start actively letting our friends, sons, brothers and fathers know that this is wrong, we’re sympathizers with behaviour that is negatively effecting a massive group of people in society. So to all the guys that have read this article, stand up and be counted. Don’t tolerate this bullshit. When someone is behaving in this manner, it is your duty to tell them that they are wrong for what they are doing and need to stop it. Educate your sons, help your friends understand that this has no place in the world that we should be living in. It’s time that that we (guys) stop making excuses (I was raised that way, I didn’t know it was wrong, I thought it was a compliment and others) and fix the problem. It’s not a short road or an easy one. These things are so ingrained into society that most people don’t even realise it’s happening. But with awareness, minds can be changed and people can be educated and people who behave this way will be forced to realise that they have no place in a modern society.

  145. I just moved to la and walk 3 miles from work. I feel like you described the experience perfectly. Thank you.

  146. I did a 4-mile walk to and from work every day for years after I moved to Seattle in 1999. I have to say, I was rarely harassed and almost never felt afraid. But I think it depends a lot on the neighborhood (I lived on Capitol Hill). Also, probably because I was not overweight at the time. I think that really does play a big role in how likely people are to feel they have the right to harass you. I’m sorry you have to put up with that crap but I’m also kind of thrilled to find another person doing the 4-mile daily walk-commute in Seattle! I’ve never met another. I feel like we should have a secret handshake or something. And I also feel the need to add a Maya Angelou quote, one of my favorites: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

  147. Behavior like this has become out of control. It’s not just in public anymore, it’s online as well. If you set up any dating sight or even on facebook, you are bombarded with messages, most if not all are sexual and uncomfortable. you preach girl.

  148. I’m sorry. I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I know what it’s like to be harassed about your weight and appearance by total strangers as you’re walking down the street; it’s an ugly, dehumanizing experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The fact that women all over the world go through worse every day just for being women who happen to be walking somewhere is an outrage.

  149. I know this probably doesn’t count for much, but I just wanted to say I’m so sorry that you’ve had to experience all these horrible things people have said to you. I can’t say that I can empathize (I’m a guy), but I appreciate you for telling these stories, and I respect you for continuing to walk, even though you had to endure so much harassment.

    I also really like the part you said about how you can experience the city walking in a way that you can’t while you’re driving a car. I think that’s so true, and it’s why I like to do a lot of biking. When you’re in a car, your kind of in a little box separated from the world. When your walking or biking, you’re actually a part of where you live, instead of just an observer.

    Thanks once again for your post.

  150. I love this. People can be so rude – unintentionally, ignorantly, bitterly, or otherwise. Being confident and self-actualized just proves them wrong. I hope these examples of society never mistake a kind demeanor for weakness. Not then, it wouldn’t be their first mistake. Thank you for sharing.

  151. I so absolutely agree, it doesn’t matter that every man isn’t harassing women, it matters that every woman is being harassed. I just got done writing a blog post on a similar topic. In this case my crime was working while being female and wearing a skirt (I was called a “hussy”). It is aggravating when all of your actions are deemed either sexual or not sexual enough. On another note, I have had unsolicited commentary on my weight my entire life and it is frustrating. It was frustrating when I was fat, really exciting as I began losing weight, and then really frustrating again when I realized all anyone was focusing on was my appearance, again! Anyway, loved the post. Carry pepper spray and keep on walking!

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