Today I read about photographer Liz Gorman getting groped in Dupont Circle and then I discovered the CASS site, which is worth checking out.
Years ago, in Chicago, on a crowded street on a sunny afternoon, I had an eerily similar experience. Last Friday night, although thankfully there was no contact, I had a creepy experience that reminded me that even at 62, being a woman means I sometimes feel very vulnerable, in a way that men don't.
As I was finishing up my walk, about 2 blocks from my house, I heard someone coming up behind me. I thought at first it was someone on a bicycle, and although I was on the sidewalk, I glanced over my shoulder to see if I needed to get out of the way. To my surprise, the guy was not on a bike, but was on foot, jogging, with a dog on a leash. He held a cellphone to his ear, and he was talking loudly into the phone, so loudly that I could hear his conversation, and my hearing is not that great. Among other things, he said he was only in Dallas for a couple of weeks, yada yada yada. Flags went up in my head on hearing this because there are no hotels anywhere near my neighborhood, and if that was the case, whose dog was he walking? But then I thought well, he must be staying with a friend, or in a friend's place...
He was jogging, I was walking, so I moved to the side to let him pass, but he didn't pass. Instead, he stayed right behind me, closing the distance, with the dog off to the side. This felt weird, and made me nervous. I increased my speed, and as I turned the corner, to my relief, I saw an elderly neighbor whom I don't know by name, but whom I frequently see when I walk in the evening as he steps outside his house to allow his ancient dachshund to take a few steps for his evening constitutional. As usual, we exchanged hellos. I slowed a bit to let the jogger pass, but the jogger slowed too; he wasn't passing. I could see my elderly neighbor checking him out, and I thought well I'm not the only one who finds this weird. I'd completed the short block and was now at my street; relieved, I turned the corner, thinking I'd lose the creep. WRONG. He turned the corner right behind me, and continued to stay about 10 feet behind me, although he was now in the middle of the street, which didn't particularly reassure me. I heard him say into his phone that he'd been running for 1.7 miles and the comment seemed so pointless that I got a feeling that there was no one else on that call. Suddenly, to my great relief, I saw another neighbor jogging toward me on the opposite side of the street. I ran the rest of the way to my door, unlocked it, and rushed inside, very relieved to be home safe and sound.
Was I unnecessarily paranoid? I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that guys have completely different concerns when they're out in the world, and I wonder if this will ever change.
cross-posted on Talking to Myself