Toronto woman fed up with street harassment after being spat on for ignoring man
'I didn't pay any attention to him so he spat on the side of my face,' says Anna Salgado
After a disturbing incident where a woman was catcalled and spit on for ignoring an unknown man's advances, one Toronto couple is speaking out about street harassment and hoping to encourage a broader conversation about the issue.
At around 3 a.m. on Sunday, Anna Salgado was on her way home from a get-together with her friends when she was approached by a stranger asking her where the nearest McDonald's was. He then asked her what she was doing "being so beautiful and alluring."
Taken aback, she quickly said she didn't know. Moments later, she was approached by another man who was riding his bike towards her, she told CBC News.
"He was yelling something at me as he rode past me. I didn't pay any attention to him so he spat on the side of my face," she says. "I was totally taken aback. I didn't really understand what had just happened. I was really surprised at just this random act of hate."
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Both incidents occurred in the area of Queen Street West and John Street.
"I've always said that I wished when people say things or do things that make me uncomfortable that I could say something back," Salgado says. "But I'm also always partly scared when this happens because I don't want it to turn physical, so I just try to de-escalate."
'Sense of helplessness'
Salgado was on the phone with her partner, Joey Landreth, before the incidents occurred; she kept the line open and he overheard both encounters.
The way that women have become accustomed to street harassment is what's most disturbing about incidents like this, Landreth says.
"The fact that Anna, at the end of the whole thing, she was fine — if it had been me my reaction would have been totally different," he says. "I was confronted with the craziest sense of helplessness. I was two time zones away. There was absolutely nothing I could do."
Both Salgado and Landreth, who are originally from Winnipeg, hope that sharing her experience will spur a larger discussion about street harassment.
"It's not a compliment. It's astounding how much ignorance is out there regarding how this actually makes people feel and what some of the actual real life consequences are," Salgado says. "No one can tell me for a second that because I ignored what [he] said and he spat on me that that was in any way shape or form a compliment."
In a Facebook post that's been shared hundreds of times, Landreth described what happened to his partner and addresses other men directly.
"I'm calling on you to behave like gentlemen. You can control your actions, so do. If you find someone being predatory, call them out," he wrote. "As men, we are in a position of privilege and I believe that we have a responsibility to act."
Landreth has a large social media following because of his work as a musician. He says the Facebook post is generating many eye-opening conversations.
"One upsetting post I read was about a woman who says she chooses her footwear based on whether or not she can run away," he says.
"I just can't believe somebody in North America, in Canada, in Toronto has to think about that when they get dressed. It's made me realize I always feel safe because I'm a man."