Today I was the victim of public masturbation. I feel so shocked and violated by this very specific, common, and rarely talked about type of street/public harassment. I was having lunch with my boss at Panera Bread when I noticed a man making direct eye contact with me. Being female, this isn’t by any means an odd occurrence but then I started to feel very conscious and uncomfortable. That is when I noticed him fondling himself under the table! I was so shocked that it took me a few moments to confirm and wrap my mind around what was happening. I didn’t want to react because the notion of my boss seeing this horrified me and I also didn’t want to give him reason to make a scene, or perhaps give him the reaction that he was looking for, as I assume that part of the allure is having that control and ability to illicit a reaction. I told my boss I was going to the bathroom, got up and went to look for a manager and happened to find a police officer who was there getting lunch. By the time I told the officer what happened he was gone. But I proud that I got up and took action because at first I was so shocked and admittedly scared and I almost did nothing but ignore him in hopes the experience would end. This left me feeling icky, and violated in a way that is hard to describe. The manager of the store came to apologize to me and I told her it was not her fault and I hoped my description would help if he came back in. I kept thinking about all the kids that go there for lunch everyday and it upset me to think about a child having to bear witness to behavior like this. For a moment, I felt like a child myself, scared and helpless.
Published on September 30, 2016 at 10:31 amno comments
When I started going to college, I knew the dangers of being a female student on a large campus. I kept telling myself that I would be careful and not put myself in a situation where something could happen to me. That is until I was sexually harassed while waiting for my friends to show up to watch a movie at the campus theater.
He approached me after I passed by him on the way to the theater. His question was simple at first asking where the study rooms were? I told him where he could find them and was ready to be on my way. He then proceeded to ask what my name was. I was used to that on campus since I usually gave people directions and they would thank me and ask for my name. It didn’t seem strange at that point. Then he asked if he could add me on Facebook. Alarm bells went off and I lied saying I didn’t have one. He started asking where I lived and if he could come home with me. I didn’t connect the dots at first but I said that I had a roommate and I didn’t bring men home.
He then asks if he can talk to me for a bit. I thought since we were in a public place that everything was okay so I sat down outside the theater, attempting to finish homework due at midnight, and hoped my friends would get here faster. He then proceeded to ask if I wanted to go to a motel with him after moving his chair closer to me. I was uncomfortable and I tried to casually move a little further away. I could smell the alcohol on his breath and I shake my head telling him ‘I wasn’t that kind of girl.’ I sent another urgent message to my roommate telling her that I needed someone to get me out of the situation. The man kept asking if I would sleep with him and kept complimenting me telling me I was such ‘a special girl’ and his ‘typical’ hookup. My heart was racing and I could feel myself starting to panic. I kept telling him that I wasn’t interested and finally he walks back to the computers and he continues to watch me.
My roommate comes running around the corner and I quickly gather my things and calmly walk over to her. I blamed myself for what happened. I should have known better than to tell him my name or the fact that I sat down. What else could I do? It was late and no one was around. I certainly wasn’t going to go outside in the dark with him around. I can still smell the alcohol and hear his voice as he talked to me. I’m still shaking after the encounter.
The worst feeling wasn’t just how the man treated me but when I told someone working in the SUB, he was a little unhappy that I couldn’t give a description other than his breath smelled like alcohol. I thought his shirt was red but after seeing him again in the SUB it turns out it was white. The employee I reported it to was a little upset he had to call campus PD to change my description of the man.
What can I say, I was shaken up and frankly, I’m lucky I remembered as much as I did. I just hope this doesn’t happen to another girl on my campus. I haven’t reported what happened to campus police. Honestly, I don’t want to feel like it was my fault. I’m already blaming myself enough and my campus, like so many others, is having issues with the police hiding reports of rape and sexual harassment. It isn’t worth telling them when I will be blamed for what happened.
Published on September 29, 2016 at 10:35 amno comments
I decided to wear shorts and my bikini top down the road to the beach. I live in a small beach town and everyone walks around in swimsuits but I have large boobs so of course I usually cover up to avoid harassment. Decided ‘fuck it I feel good and I want to enjoy sun’. Well that happiness changed fast, bunch of guys yelled sexual things and then a car pulled up and some twenty or thirty something year old guy asked me if I wanted a ride. I was around fifteen or sixteen. I said no and walked away fast but he kept following me for a while and then finally left. I put my shirt on after that.
Published on September 29, 2016 at 10:28 amno comments
This week has been super busy and exciting, with our interns getting into the swing of things and some cool new opportunities knocking on our door. We’ve spent the week here at HQ reaching out to the community and hitting the ground running to ensure that this fall is an eventful one!
Our Executive Director Emily attended a Town Hall meeting on park safety on Wednesday, Sept. 21, and our friends over at The Center for Anti-Violence Education were also there. Organizations involved in health and safety educated officials and the community on how to stay safe in parks, making for a super productive meeting!
This weekend was also jam-packed with activity! On Saturday, Sept. 24, our Executive Director Emily and our Program and Administrative Assistant Tamar attended a super informative panel called Children, Not Criminals: Rethinking School Discipline at the Brooklyn Museum. The panel addressed the role that in-school arrests and school suspensions play in criminalizing young men and women of color. The panel provided alternative disciplinary techniques from national and local advocates working in the school-to-prison pipeline sector.
Emily also facilitated a discussion with Project Empowerment on Sunday, Sept. 25, where she talked about the burdens that accompany being a woman, the birth of Hollaback!, the struggle to make street harassment recognized as an issue worthy of attention and action and the journey of turning Hollaback! into a global movement. During her speech, Emily encouraged other women to empower each other by sharing their stories, and changing the narrative of our culture. What an awesome message!
Another awesome update is that Emily was recently named one of the 21 international leaders changing European politics by VoteRunLead, a national organization that uses technology and training to accelerate the number of women involved in civic and political leadership. We’re so incredibly proud of her!
Here’s what’s been going on with our sites around the world:
Elaine Coyle, Hollaback! Belfast’s representative on a feminist activist lead TV discussion program called Reclaim The Agenda, recently filmed an episode dedicated to sexual harassment, where participants addressed and discussed the increasing rate at which young women are sexually harassed, and the societal stigma that prevents these women from coming forward and standing up for themselves. Panelists discussed rewriting the narrative by bringing both men and women on board to prevent sexual harassment and passing legislation that requires schools to teach lessons advocating for gender equality.
Hollaback! Bahamas founder Alicia Wallace recently wrote an article in Lady Clever about bringing the initiative to her community. In the article, Wallace detailed some instances of street harassment and victim-blaming she had experienced, and explained that bringing Hollaback! to her community was a way to reclaim her power and her voice. After feeling tired of the silence that surrounded sexual harassment, she applied to be a site leader for Hollaback! Bahamas, which launched in April of 2014.
“To help people understand street harassment—definition, root cause, and effects—and combat it, we have to use statistics available to us, and continue sharing our stories,” she said. Great job, Alicia! We can’t wait to watch the site grow!
Awesome work, everyone! We can’t wait to see what next week has in store!
Holla and out!
-the Hollaback! Team
Published on September 29, 2016 at 10:23 amno comments
Two little shits decided to yell ‘dayum’ at my friend and I as we waddled through the city after stuffing our faces. I flipped the boys off and then they hurled insults at us. Couldn’t hear what they said but I’m sure it was the same old stuff. Very worrying to see young boys act that way purely to harass people.
Published on September 29, 2016 at 10:23 amno comments