I had the opportunity to speak with these amazing high school students from Elizabeth Irwin high school about a month ago. And they were incredible. Grace, the student at the end, even testified at the city council hearing on street harassment with me in October. She is so bold.
As Ileana says at the end. “You think feminism is dead? Look at these six.” Feminism is far from dead, but if these young folks continue to have their way, street harassment’s days are numbered.
Several years ago, when I was 29 years old, I was seated on a Redline train headed to my mother’s after a job interview. I am an attorney so I was dressed very conservatively in a navy blue suit and pumps. I noticed a scrubby man about my age sitting directly across from me trying to get my attention. When I looked at him he rolled his tongue around against the inside of his cheek, which had been common among juvenile males at my high school for indicating a desire for oral sex, and he mouthed the words to that effect. I was so disgusted I just looked him straight in the eye and said very loudly and meanly “Fuck you.” He looked shocked so I repeated “Fuck you and don’t look at me again.” He mumbled “I’m sorry” but as he was still looking at me I again repeated “Stop looking at me,” which he did. I then stared at him to make sure he didn’t look at me again until we arrived at the next stop where he made a hasty exit.
I felt bad because there were some young children on the train with their dad and I knew they heard me but probably didn’t see the loser pervert so on my way off a few stops later I apologized to the dad for swearing in front of the kids but said that a guy was making rude gestures at me.
What I concluded from the experience is that scrubby stranger stalkers in public places (as opposed to acquaintance stalkers or stalkers when no one else is around) are big cowardly, losers and that they are more afraid of you than you are of them and confronting their disgusting behavior head on will send them scampering away. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise since if these guys weren’t losers they would have girlfriends or wives to satisfy their sexual needs and wouldn’t have to attempt to get their thrills skeeving out strangers in public.
Submitted by Sara
I stopped by the Alley Cantina in Taos, NM back in August to meet a few friends for drinks. The hallway leading to the bathrooms is small – just enough for two people to squeeze by each other – and men were lined up along one side of it (there was only one other woman in line for the ladies’ room). As I’m walking past these men, someone grabs my ass. I turn around immediately and there’s one guy with his hands already up, as if to say “it wasn’t me!” and pointed to his friend who was standing next to him. I didn’t know which one of them actually groped me, but I looked each of them in the eye as I yelled, loud enough so that everyone around me could hear what I was saying over the music and chatter, that you do NOT grab a woman’s ass as she’s walking by you. I felt like a mother scolding her young children! These dudes were much bigger than I am, so I turned around and continued down the hallway. As I got to the front, I turned around to make sure I got a good look at both of them (early- to mid-20s, both males is all I can remember now) and saw them leaving the line, towards the door of the bar. They’re bold enough to grab a stranger’s butt as she’s walking past them, but not bold enough to stick around to deal with the consequences after I talk to the bartender and the security guys. Real manly.
Submitted by Katrina
I was an exchange student in Spain for 9 months and toward the end of those 9 months I went to spend a week on the beach at Salou with a group of friends.
One afternoon I was walking the 2 blocks from our hotel to the beach by myself when I heard a man calling out to me. I glanced at him, then looked away. I noticed him running after me. I sped up. He grabbed me and attempted to kiss me. I twisted out of his arms, looked him dead in the eye, and said firmly, in English, “I don’t understand any Spanish.” Which, by the way, was an utter lie. But I assumed that he would be put off by a person who spoke no Spanish.
I walked swiftly and decidedly on toward the beach. Thankfully, he left me alone, although behind me I heard him say, in Spanish, something like, “You don’t have to know any Spanish!”
Submitted by Olivia
I know this isn’t street harassment, but it isn’t any less humiliating to be harassed on campus.
My first experience with harassment really shook me up because it happened in EIGHTH GRADE. I was sitting beside a jerk jock–you know the type–in math class when he started petting my arm and leg. We were not friends. There was no way this could be construed as a joke. I told him to stop. He didn’t.
I was raised by a woman who joined her school’s all-boys track team in the 60s to force the administration to open sports up to girls. I was NOT raised to take this. So I stood up in the middle of class, pointed to the boy beside me and told my teacher loud enough for everyone to hear, “He is touching me. He’s sexually harassing me and I’m not going to take it.”
I didn’t know it then, but that was my first time holla’ing back.
Now, I attend Delta College in Saginaw Michigan and I have been harassed and cornered no less than five times. I make it a point to laugh at the offenders and draw as much attention to them as possible, but they’re everywhere and they come in all flavors. There’s no point in reporting this to administration or campus police because they don’t do anything about it, but maybe posting this will give other girls the courage to say something too because they aren’t alone.
Ladies of all ages, NEVER let anyone make you feel less than you are. Hollaback and if you’re at Delta College, know that if I’m around I will be backing you up.
Submitted by Emily
Satire can be a powerful artistic form used to change bad human behavior.
It uses irony, wit, and ridicule to attack human vice, folly, and foolishness.
“As such, it is a tool that can be used to defeat street harassment,” writes blogger and self-defense guru Erik Kondo.
“Satire can be used to deny and refute the power of street harassers and expose their weaknesses and flaws. I came up with the term ‘sexless toad’ because as a man, I believe it is an insult that takes away power and is emasculating. The point is to come up with words that take away power. The insult ‘asshole’ actually gives power.”
Click here to read the tale of The Harasser, The Toad, And The Goddesses’ Daughter.
11/27/2010, around 1pm. I was walking with my friend V. on Broadway in uptown Manhattan (just past Nagle Avenue, along the wall of Fort Tryon Park) when we encountered four young men, around 13 or 14, perched on the wall and benches hanging out. One kid yelled out at us, saying “your girlfriend’s cute!” The others laughed and chimed in, yelling at V., and started asking “is she your sister or girlfriend?”
Feeling a bit defensive and reckless (I honestly wanted to answer “both” just to see their reactions) I lied and said yes, and they all started hooting “tap that ass!” and “kiss, kiss, kiss.” They shouted at us down the rest of the block; it was awkward, but we both took it in good humor. I would hope that they’re just being reckless young kids and they’ll grow out of that kind of behavior soon.
Submitted by Ronan
I’m 19 years old and I’ve been verbally harassed by men many times before but luckily this is the only time (so far) that I have been groped by a stranger.
I had been shopping or maybe seeing a movie with my mom and one of my good guy friends. We were all in the elevator with a handful of other people and when we got to our floor I suddenly felt like someone had grabbed my butt. I thought that it might have been my friend’s hand accidentally brushing me but then I looked back and saw two guys in their 40’s looking quite clean and unsuspicious but LEERING at me in such a way that I KNEW that I wasn’t imagining things. Unfortunately because BEING GROPED was so completely outside of my expectations of something that would happen to me, especially in a nice mall in Seattle and with my MOTHER only feet away, it took me until we had exited the elevator to really understand what had happened. Oh how I wish I had given that man what he deserved!
Thinking back, I imagine turning around, holding the elevator doors open and just screaming at this man, humiliating him in front of the other family that was in the elevator with us. I don’t know who would have punched this guy harder, my friend or my mom!
At least I’m prepared for next time… unfortunately as a young woman I can be pretty sure that there will be a next time.
Submitted by Lorraine
This took place today in LA. I was waiting on my bike to cross at an intersection and there were three random guys standing around trying to scalp tickets to a football game. One says, “Hey, gorgeous, how you doin?” I was completely bundled up, wearing a long coat and a scarf. I was also wearing flip flops (it’s LA after all). Another one says “Hey girl, you got beautiful feet. You got beautiful feet.” I didn’t really know what to do so I just rode off on my bike.
Just because I’m wearing flip flops doesn’t mean you can appraise the attractiveness of my feet. Though it did kind of make me laugh that that was the only thing the guy could think of to say, since I had no other skin showing (although even if I had, it wouldn’t give him the right to comment on it).
I pray that these guys find something better to do with their lives than stand on street corners trying to scalp tickets and harass women.
Submitted by Amanda
I was working on changing my car’s flat tire while it sat parked at the intersection of the street and an alley. Pausing for a moment, I looked up the alley, and found myself staring at a man with his pants at his knees, shaking his hips and nude genitals around in the air.
With a look of disgust I reached for my phone, but wasn’t able to get his picture before he pulled up his britches and took off. By the time the police were there, he was long gone, but I hope someone else gets a picture of him soon!
He looked to be in his 50’s and had a large beer-gut. Short, light-colored hair (grey maybe?), average height from what I could tell.
Submitted by Elizabeth M.