This morning, I had coffee and a cornetto and decided to take my dog for a long walk in the city center. It was supposed to be a relaxing Sunday.
It wasn’t late. It wasn’t dark outside. There were thousands of people around. I was wearing glasses. I had hardly any makeup on. I was wearing a long jacket covering my entire body.
But still, I was harassed. I was followed. I was yelled at. I was treated like garbage. I was catcalled.
It happened like this. I was walking my dog. I went into a bookstore, watched a bit of the Florence marathon taking over the city and decided to head home. On the walk back towards my apartment, I passed by a busy intersection right beside the Santa Maria Novella train station.
I was approached by a man who sounded Italian, looked Italian and was dressed in dark jeans and a blue jacket. He was in his late 20s, maybe 30s and in a baseball cap. The perfect creep.
His first attempt was the usual vomit-inducing “Posso conoscerti?” that women in Florence have to consistently endure and exhaustively ignore. I want someone to tell me about ONE FUCKING TIME A WOMAN HAS EVER RESPONDED POSITIVELY TO A MAN FOLLOWING THEM AND YELLING “CAN I KNOW YOU?” ON THE STREET. Moving on.
Because being treated like objects by disgusting men is something women in Florence are unfortunately used to, I barely heard the guy. It’s something that happens all the time. I just ignore, pretend to not understand Italian and keep walking. They usually just leave you alone. This man did not. Quite the opposite. He decided to pick up the pace and follow me.
He started to get closer, walking right behind me, basically breathing on me. I told him I didn’t want to know him and asked him to please stop following me, but it just made him angry.
When I looked back at him and told him for the hundredth time to please stop following me because he was scaring me, he was visibly upset. He yelled “POSSO VEDERE UN DOCUMENTO,” because I guess the alternative to harassing a woman on the street is pretending to be an undercover cop and asking for an official document? YEAH MAN, HERE’S MY PASSPORT. What a fucking loser.
I was terrified. He had his hands in his pockets the whole time.
When I realized he had no intentions of leaving me alone, I knew I needed to do something and walked into the first hotel I found.
I’m so thankful I found a wonderful man at the front desk of this hotel who calmed me down, went outside to check if the creep was still there and comforted me. There are still good men in the world.
I didn’t plan on writing this today, but I also didn’t plan on being harassed today. Just like women don’t plan on being raped. And abused. I can’t fucking take it anymore.
Some fun facts:
-Domestic violence in Italy is at an all-time high.
-Italian prosecutors are BEING FLOODED WITH DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL ABUSE CASES.
-In Ancona, two men were cleared of rape charges because judges ruled the alleged victim was “too masculine” and HOW COULD THE MEN BE ATTRACTED TO HER.
-There’s a hospital in Milan exhibiting X-rays of women attacked by men to highlight what one doctor calls the “daily horror” of violence against women. Have you thrown up yet?
I’m really worried about young girls who walk alone in Florence. I’m worried about young women who study here. I’m worried about my friends who bike and walk home alone at night.
Before moving to Italy, I think it’s important to know that shit like this happens more than it should here. Maybe not in small towns, but in most major cities. It’s a big problem. It’s disgusting. And it makes me consider moving back home to Canada (I know awful things happen in Canada too).