Harassed at Target

I was walking quickly through the store to the back of the food section to pick up a spice I needed. I was wearing my headphones, though one earpiece is broken. A tall man approached me from behind and asked, “Can you hear me?”

I replied, “Yes.”

He said, “Good because you didn’t see me when you passed me earlier, and I wanted to tell you you look good.”

Livid and scared, I started screaming and cursing at him that his behavior was totally inappropriate and that it made him seem like a rapist to follow me into an empty aisle at the back of the store. I informed him that headphones and no eye contact meant that I didn’t want to talk to anyone — especially him. I also yelled, “What were you hoping to get out of this!? Were you hoping that I would go out with you!?” He didn’t have an answer and kind of slunk away. I felt bad later about screaming at him, and wish I would have handled it better.

Submitted by anonymous

Location: Inside the Columbia Heights Target

Time of harassment:Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

4 Responses

  1. Michelle

    I understand feeling bad about yelling at him a little bit, but I do think that more guys need to hear exactly that kind of (seemingly obvious) information: headphones + no eye contact = not looking for a conversation; what do they think they’ll get out of random aggressive compliments, etc. Maybe he’ll think twice next time.

  2. Alex

    First off I have to say I agree that there is a real problem with misogyny among men, but there is also a problem with misandry among women. Michelle’s comment proves this.

    The guy in question is obviously very shy, very socially miscalibrated and has NO CLUE how to approach a woman in a way that will make her feel comfortable. Most of these guys already have low self-esteem and your screaming probably made it worse. At best, he will stay the same. At worse, he will commit suicide because no women love him. This guy needs help, and the yelling will not help him.

    Now I realize as I already said the guy approached her in the absolute worst way possible. Let’s say the guy passed her initially, she had headphones on and making no eye contact, and he deliberately gestured her to take them out, and tell her the same compliment.

    If she was attracted to him, I can guarantee you that they would either set up a date on the spot, or he would get her phone number, and they would do it later.

    I can’t really speculate on how this particular woman would have handled this situation being that she was obviously frightened and not in her normal state of mind (hence – not handling it the way she would have liked). However, it’s still likely that someone who wears headphones and avoids eye contact in public places would react to a stranger approaching her in a way that would lead her to complain about it on this website.

    There in lies the double standard.

    Oh and by the way. Headphones and no eye contact can also mean shy, it can also mean not-so-comfortable socially. But you CAN meet people who are wearing headphones and not making eye contact and have it still work.

    What you’re doing here is introducing MORE negatives into this man’s mind through the yelling, and through the opinionated “headphones + no eye contact = i don’t want to talk to anyone”

    This is a purely self-centered view of things. You think of only what YOU WANT and want to infringe on others rights to get it. Men and women are made to get together. Men are SUPPOSED to approach women because most women are too shy to do it themselves. You DO NOT have the right to DICTATE under which circumstances men can say hello to you or give you a compliment.

    • Mary

      Alex, how do you know the “guy in question is obviously very shy, very socially miscalibrated and has NO CLUE how to approach a woman in a way that will make her feel comfortable”? You sound like the legions of men posting all over the internet about horrible women are because they don’t want them. It’s sickening, really.

      The OP has every right to be afraid of some strange man slithering around following her through the store. There is no reason for someone to follow a person just to tell them they “look good.” And even if prior to her screaming at him, he had “deliberately gestured her to take [the headphones off], and tell her the same compliment” she is under no obligation to oblige.

      How nice of you to have so much concern for the possibility that *she* has “introduc[ed] MORE negatives into this man’s mind”. And how nice of you to think that by not engaging the man in conversation she is infringing on his rights. She has every right to be left alone.

      Alex, what you wrote in your post is why a lot of women don’t want to be bothered by men in public places. Women are threatened, beaten, and killed for rejecting men, and you think something is wrong for women to be cautious. You are the one who is self-centered.

  3. James

    He probably thought you were cute. Why were you such a bitch to him?