For years I was continually getting “flashed”—in parking lots, libraries, through a window I happened to pass! This happened every couple years from the time I was 14 or 15. My typical response was shock, shame, disgust, and humiliation. I’d bury my face in my hands and walk quickly away.
At one point I’d had enough. I was in my 30’s (pathetic that it took so long, I know) walking down the street of my home town (to a therapy appointment no less) and this guy across the street in an alley was standing naked holding his overcoat wide open. This time a rush of rage and a power that made me feel like the Medusa welled up in me and I started yelling at the top of my lungs: “How dare you do that to me, you stupid shit! You are sick! For heaven’s sake GO GET HELP!!” He shut up his coat in a flash, spun around, and walked away as fast as he could. I was breathless and shaken when I got to my therapists office and he didn’t seem to understand why I was so upset. I should have called him a stupid shit.
The weird thing: I was NEVER “flashed” again.
This 58 year old loves your website advocating hollering back–and is so heartened to see young women get pissed. Yell your heads off girls!
Submitted by Barbra
I am at 14th street with my daughter last week. I was talking to my daughter who is 10 and I notice this guy is flicking his tongue at me and “adjusting his jeans” directly across from me. As soon as I noticed this I took out my phone and tried to get his picture. He looked freaked out and got off at grand central! I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture but it worked and got the perv off the train. My daughter didn’t notice anything because she had her nose in her book. What balls this guy has.
Submitted by Samantha
A few weeks ago I was sexually assaulted at a company holiday party by someone I regarded as a friend. I was verbally harassed, pinned against a wall and touched inappropriately. When it happened I couldn’t move, I felt so helpless, but whether by my instincts or him releasing me, I got away. I was lucky that it wasn’t worse and have reported the incident to my superior. The issue is now being dealt with by corporate and this guy is suspended and most likely going to be terminated. I’ve also since learned that before me that night, he sexually/verbally harassed at least two other women. This guy is a pig and doesn’t even remember his attack on me, so while he gets to imagine what happened, I have to deal with this bullshit and re-build my confidence.
The day after this happened, I left my apartment once during the day to get soup and bread. I was wearing work out pants and a hoodie; as I was walking down the street, this guy walks by me tells me ‘nice body’. I wanted to scream and scream at him. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life and then I have this guy ‘compliment’ me like I am some piece of meat? It was like adding salt to the wound.
Actions and comments like this need need to be recognized as socially unacceptable and it’s important for women (or anyone!) to speak out against this behavior. No one deserves to be objectified and harassed.
Submitted by Natalie.
It was rather late, I’d say around 1 AM, and I decided to run to the 24 hour bodega around the corner. As I turned the corner I walked by two men, who I noticed were watching me walk by, nothing harmful in that. On my way back from the bodega I noticed that they were still there. As I approached their standing point, I heard one of them say “How about taking some dark chocolate home tonight, baby?” as I walked by them. Well, they were not selling any sort of food items so I realized that this was his pathetic attempt to pick me up. I simply replied “That’s okay, my saltines and orange juice will do” and kept walking.
Do guys really think saying these things to complete strangers will make a woman fall madly in love with them and accept their vulgar invitation? I really don’t understand their thinking.
Submitted by Beth
This happened during my first fall semester at Florida State. My friend and I had gone to Pizza Hut for lunch, right down the street from our apartment. Keep in mind, my friend is Muslim and was dressed in a hijab and in very conservative clothes. I was wearing baggy shorts and an even baggier T-shirt, and I looked like somebody’s baby mama. This older man was just leaving, and he looked at me and my friend like we were two pieces of steak and he hadn’t eaten in days. He offered to pay for our lunch (whoa, big spender). We turned him down and my friend rightfully called him a creep to his face.
Some time later, me and my same friend were going to Taco Bell. There was this big gray van parked out front, and two men old enough to be my father were sitting in it. We passed the car, and the man in the passenger’s seat started yelling, “Ma’am! Ma’am! Excuse me! Come here, ma’am!” I ignored him and went inside, and did not leave until that car was gone. Looking back, I wish I had flicked him off or something, just to let him know that I did not appreciate being treated like a walking vagina.
I have a number of smaller stories, such as a friend of my roommate’s who called me ‘sweet thang,’ and a group of men at my apartment complex who made sure that I heard them compliment my ass. It’s truly disgusting behavior, and I wish that I did not have these stories to tell.
Submitted by Cheri
Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmas and the happiest of HOLLAdays.
I was out for my birthday with a friend. My friend and I decided to step outside and take my pool stick to her car so we could start dancing. As we were exiting the building, I see a man grab my friend’s ass. She batted his hands away and kept going. I looked the fool dead in the eye and told him, “Don’t touch me.” He made a move as if to grab my crotch and I grabbed him by the thumb, gave it a twist and started pushing him and shouting. When I had him pinned into the corner with his thumb in a tight bind, I asked him loudly, “Do you want to die in that shirt?!?” Then dislocated his thumb for him. He crumpled to the floor and the bouncer, who had witnessed the whole thing, started complaining that I had acted badly. I looked him in the eye and asked, “What would you want your daughter to do?”
The groper went to the hospital and the bouncer bought me a drink. My friend and I continued our evening not only unmolested, but treated with respect and dignity.
I’m not advocating violence, but sometimes you have to break the fingers that touch you.
Submitted by Jenna
As a bartender, I am verbally harassed all night every night by men of the lowest common denominator who assume that, because I am standing behind a bar, I am available, interested, easy, slutty, a drunk, would like nothing more than to go home with them at the end of my shift, am interested in hearing their comments about my body, enjoy being called sweetheart, muffin, baby, honey, and other fun names, and really get off on being blatantly mentally undressed by strangers for hours at a time.
When they are inevitably rebuffed, I am called no fun, uptight, stuck up, a bitch, or, if the person is of color, I may even be called a racist. Sometimes people get violent, throw things, make threats at this point, and the police have to be called–and of course, by the time they get there, my assailant is long gone. Many people have told me that I should expect to be the recipient of harassment because of my profession, the clothes I wear, the shape of my body, or for not being “tough enough.”
In actuality I am just a regular woman doing her job who considers verbal harassment a form of violence and intimidation. Lately it’s gotten really bad, not just at work, but at home in my neighborhood, on the train, on the street, wherever. If I am not with my husband–and sometimes even if I am!–it feels like I get harassed non-stop. It’s enough to make me want to leave New York sometimes, which I love.
It’s really hard for me not to internalize. It just bothers me so much. On those days when I’m really upset about it, I come to this site and it makes me feel a hundred times better. Thanks for giving us an outlet for our stories to be heard.
Submitted by Jackie
Wales’ government sponsored campaign at ending a rape culture of victim-blaming scores extra points this week from Hollaback. Stop Blame defines sexual assault as “unwanted sexual behaviour directed towards another person that causes humiliation, pain, fear, shame, intimidation or mental suffering,” and asks us to stop handing perpetrators the excuses they need to justify their actions:
“The rapist and society use the same, tired old excuses, time and time again-she was promiscuous, she was drunk, her skirt was so VERY short. She was asking for it.
Well here’s news – No matter how short her skirt or whether she put up a physical fight – No woman, or any of her actions, is responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted. No woman is EVER asking for it.”
Two new studies came out this week, solidifying growing global anti-harassment sentiment and activism as forces to be reckoned with. Studies cross-posted from Holly Kearl at Stop Street Harassment:
#1: In a study of 828 salaried employees in an unnamed city in Korea, 43 percent said they experienced sexual harassment during their commute, and 79 percent were women. Via The Korean Times:
“Nearly 72 percent of the incidents occurred on subway cars, followed by buses at 27.3 percent and taxis at 1.1 percent. Nearly 60 percent said they experienced harassment between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. when most workers are on their way to work, while 17 percent were between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. while returning home from work.
About 61.9 percent said at the time of the sexual harassment, it was too crowded for them to move within the subway train or bus. In response to the harassment, 43.2 percent said they did nothing about it, and 25 percent moved to a different place. Only 18.2 percent strongly protested against the assailants and 6.3 percent shouted in anger.”
#2: In the state capitol of Thiruvananthapurm in the south Indian state Keralaas, 1000 women were recently interviewed about street harassment. Ninety-eight percent said they had experienced it and 90 percent said the harassment was either physically or vocally violent. The harassment was notable on public transportation and 62 percent had experienced it there. Only seven percent had reported any of their experiences of harassment.
India’s study was sponsored in part by UNIFEM, Jagori, and Sakhi Resources Center.