I personally end up talking about women and men because I am a woman and I have only been harassed by men. I have no experience with any other situation; that doesn't mean other situations don't exist.
I must have been twelve the first time I encountered The Problem. I was going to the bus stop to get to school and a man appeared in front of me. He wanted to tell me I was pretty, asked about my job, and tried to make me follow him home.
When I was 15 and started an after-school job, a middle-aged man came in every day, flirting with me as I manned the register. He waited for me outside most evenings, trying to follow me home. It became really creepy one night when I'd been to a school dance and he waited outside at one in the morning. He trailed after me all the way home and tried to get in. I threatened him with my dad, managed to unlock the front door, and slammed it shut in his face.
When I was 19 or maybe 20. I had my first real job and lived alone in my first apartment. My employer's main office was in the city where I lived, and there were satellite offices all over the region. We had some form of event where all the consultants came to the main office, and all of us went away for dinner. The man working in Sälen decided he was God's gift to women and I wanted him.
I kept my distance during the evening, went home, and went to bed. In the middle of the night someone banged on the door. I had a peep-hole and saw him outside, ringing the bell, shouting at me to open and let him in. He kept banging a fist on the door and probably woke everyone in the building.
Maria today would have told him to get his drunk ass the @&%# away and called the police.
Maria back then was scared to death.
I pretended I wasn't at home and hoped he'd go away.
He didn't. He kept it up for a long time, and when I eventually stepped out to go to work the next morning, he slept in the staircase outside my door.
The next day, he pretended as if nothing happened. No one believed me - he was an "upstanding citizen," good at his job, married, and at least 35 years older than I.
Maria today would have stood her ground and filed an official complaint. Maria back then hid every time he came to the main office and made sure never to be alone with him.
A couple of years later, I had a stalker who figured out my address through my job and watched my apartment every night.
It has gone on like that through life. When I was younger, I assumed The Problem would go away when I grew older.
Today, I'm 45, chubby, and have silver streaks in my hair. Makes no difference whatsoever. In a way it's worse nowadays. When I was young, creepy men had to wait for a woman to walk past them, but nowadays, they can do their thing 24/7 through the Internet. There are still cat callers and real life creeps, but in today's world it's even more difficult to get away from it.
I recently had a man I didn't know tell me - repeatedly - how long it had been since he had sex. What's that's supposed to accomplish? Am I supposed to drop my pants and let him stick it in out of pity?
Makes me wonder, would he say the same things to man? Probably not.
If you're a man who feels the need to blurt out things like that when encountering women, you should read this post. I didn't write it, just stumbled over it. It's funny, I promise!