I work nights and one night on my way in to my job,
I was verbally assaulted by a horrific man on Market St.
I heard someone make a noise and looked up, which was
probably a mistake. I try to never make eye contact w/
men who harass and just keep walking.
This guy was almost pure evil in the way he was talking,
though. He made racist comments, and then called me an
ugly bitch and a c**t. I kept walking. It felt like
someone took a knife and stabbed me. He tried to engage
me in some kind of argument sparring with this taunting tone of voice, and I just kept on going. I was tired and
had a long night ahead of me, and felt like breaking down
for real. This was the worst experience of harassment I’ve
ever had happen to me. As I walked away, this psycho
kept screaming the word c**t over and over, and I thought
he was going to chase after me or try to hurt me physically.
This may not have happened during the daytime, but my job
is at night, and I can’t avoid that. Also, I don’t have a
car. This was horribly disturbing. I dont think I’ll ever
walk down Market St. at night ever again.
Submitted by Trina
My two friends and i were waiting for a bus to get back to my apartment, and a guy sitting next to us starting talk to us, he started out asking normal questions then went right into asking if we were single, and we politely said no (at this point with the way we responded it’s clear we didn’t want him to talk to us again, however he was relentless) He proceeded to ask if we were lesbians, we replied no, then as we stood up for our bus he says “damn you girls look good standing up!” then my outspoken friend says “look that’s enough, stop” he says it again, and my friend then says “no really stop, you’re crossing the line” and by the time we got on the bus he sat all the way in the back while we sat in the front. It just goes to show you can’t be afraid to put creeps in their place when they’re harassing you. I know that if i was without that friend of mine i would have stayed speechless and allowed the man to continue harassing me.
Submitted by Marissa
For some reason I thought that starting a Hollaback! in Baltimore (launching later this month!) would make me invisible to street harassment. Like, for the greater good, karma would do me a favor and let me pass. Well, I was wrong. A young-20’s guy looked me over and said “sexy” right as we passed shoulder to shoulder on the street- while I was FLYERING FOR THE HOLLABACK BMORE! LAUNCH PARTY. Ugh. I change it up, but my first response this time was a forceful “Shut Up!”. Then he says, “you shut up, bitch!”, then I say “let me take a picture of you so I can show everyone what an asshole is..(silence while walking away)…don’t worry, I got it” (my phone sucks, so I didn’t get it, but I made the gesture anyway). I felt ok about the whole thing b/c Hollaback has given me the confidence that the streets are mine just as much as they are his, but then later I passed by a bank security guard who saw the incident. He asked exactly what the guy said and made sure I was ok, which I thought was pretty cool, but then he gave me that same old, “you gotta watch what you say to people so you don’t get hurt”. I’m not an idiot, it was the middle of the day with plenty of people around and I’ve taken a self-defense class. If the situation escalated and someone did get hurt, it would absolutely be the HARASSER’S fault, not mine. Really tired of the victim-blaming mentality. Perhaps if the other two women on the street and that security guy had all responded to that jerks rude behavior, then HE would have to worry about what he said to people, not me.
Submitted by Shawna
I’m 22, and this happened to me when I was 12 and traveling with a group in London, but it still haunts me. So it was midnight and I was on the tube with a group of teens and two chaperones, but we were all spread out because it was so crowded. I was standing there looking at the floor when I felt this guy to my right watching me. I looked up and made eye contact, and I swear his eye got wider in a really creepy way. I looked away, but he didn’t stop staring. I kept glancing at him, and the only time within maybe five minutes when he broke his stare was to scratch his nose…and then he went right back to staring at me. Finally, the tube stopped and my group started getting off.
As soon as I started to move to get off, this creep started following me. That’s when I REALLY panicked, as in my fight-or-flight instinct kicked in. Despite the crowd, I ran. He ran after me and actually reached out to grab me. Without thinking, I grabbed some lady’s sweater, yanked on it, and hurled myself off the tube. And just after I jumped off, with him right behind me, the tube doors closed on his face. I turned around to look, and the last I saw of him, he had his face and hands mashed up against the door windows, still staring at me, and looking VERY pissed off. I told a chaperone what had happened (don’t know if they believed me), but they let me hold one of their hands all the way back to the hotel.
It sounds like something out of a psychological thriller or horror movie, I know, but it was real and to date, the scariest time of my life. I can’t stand to think what might have happened if that creep had gotten hold of me. I’m still afraid to ride trains alone.
Submitted by Rebecca
Check out the all-Hollaback reader:
This was put together by Jessica Dickinson Goodman, a street harassment activist and badass who also runs the Feeling Elephants blog. She included our friends at Harassmap and Stop Street Harassment for good measure! Know other blogs we should include? Let us know!
My neighborhood in Astoria is quiet, mostly. It’s safe, mostly. And for the most part its residents have never given me any kind of trouble.
One day I was walking home from my friend’s apartment along 31st street. It was summer so I was wearing cut-off jean shorts and a tank. I know that my outfit had nothing to do with it, but for a while I stopped wearing tank tops in public thinking this was the cause.
It was the middle of the day so the street was almost empty except for a largish (5+) group of young teens sitting outside an apartment building. Now, I try not to profile, but in my experience groups of teenage boys are trouble, and I am usually right. I put on my sunglasses and walked past them, avoiding eye contact.
Well, to my surprise I made it past them without any trouble when I heard that sound that will make the hairs on most women’s arms stand on end. The kissy noise. What happened next you could say was my fault, I should have kept walking, but I had had it. Here was a group of kids almost half my age with the nerve to make that awful sound at me. So I turned around and said, “are you f*cking serious? How old are you?” To which the larger of the group said “Old enough to f*ck you like a grown man”. At this point one of his friends says, “Girl I am gonna f*ck you with some chopsticks”. I’m half-Chinese, and was appalled that this brat had added racism onto the growing pile of sexual harassment. Various other insults followed, “skinny b*tch”, “dumb c*nt”, etc. I always wonder why, if I’m such a dumb etc., etc. why they tried to “holla at” me in the first place…
There were over five of them, and just one of me, so I decided to walk away. I called the police and told them a group of young men had verbally assaulted me and threatened me with sexual abuse. The officer offered his condolences but told me that since they had not physically assaulted me there was nothing he could do. While I agree that the police probably do not have the resources to investigate every instance of harassment, it made me feel alone, weak, and even slutty. I felt that because I was wearing a thin tank top I had somehow brought this onto myself.
When did it become okay for young boys to talk to older women this way? To threaten them in their own neighborhoods with this kind of sexualized, and sometimes racialized, violence? I was so disgusted, so horrified. And honestly to this day I have not walked down that street again.
Submitted by Jen
So here I am, a 17 year old girl, black (it matters) in her school uniform, just going to the mall to get some stuff, and I hear it.
“Hey-o, pretty girl, lemme holla! Why the long face? I got some stuff to make you smile!”
I was actually about to spin around and tell him to pop off, but when I looked at him, I saw he ran one of the vendors selling lotions in the hallways of the mall.
Why is it cool to act this way towards me? I watched this guy ask other women “Hey, miss, would you like to buy some lotions?” But as soon as a black girl walks by you switch up your game? And you don’t even care that she’s obviously underage? FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON.
I just wanted to the MAC counter and get out, so I gave him the dirtiest look that I save especially for scumbags like him and kept walking.
Submitted by Mariel
Hollaback embodies all that is strong, powerful, and badass about being a woman today, and reflects a global female solidarity that knows no racial, age, or geographic boundaries. As such, we seek three men or women who can represent and illustrate these values in written form.
Selected writers need to be able to commit to blogging a minimum of twice per week about key stories and milestones in the anti-harassment movement in a voice that is bold and street harassment savvy.
Interested candidates should submit a sample piece for publication by February 10, 2011 on a topic that you feel is important, timely, and of interest to Hollaback readers. Accompanying your piece should be a brief description of you, why the anti-harassment movement is important to you, and how you represent a unique voice.
Bloggers will be selected for diversity of voice and quality of writing and can hail from anywhere in the world. To submit your sample piece and accompanying information, please email everything in the body of an email to [email protected]
So the other day I had what Oprah would call an “A-ha” moment. Though I prefer to refer to it my “Get the fuck out of my personal space you male-privilege-assuming bastard” episode. Just has a nicer ring to it.
Anyways, I was at a gas station and had just finished filling up when an older gentleman clad in overalls (I live in NC) ambled over to stand RIGHT in front of me, blocking my entrance back into the driver’s seat of my beloved automobile.
He tried to start up some inane conversation about gas prices, which were SO HIGH these days compared to when he was young. Pissed off that he wasn’t getting my subtle “step-back-random-dude” vibes, I thought about asking if his first car was a Model T. But, as he kept inching creepily closer to me, I just said very firmly “I need to get back in my car.”
But that’s not what HE wanted.
The lovely gent actually shook his head no and tried to keep talking, all the while inching closer and closer toward me. In my mind I found myself running through all those perpetrator-excusing things we’re taught to do as women…Maybe this guy was just a little crazy, bless his heart, or actually was trying to pick me up but didn’t know how to go about it…but then IT CLICKED.
I didn’t, and I don’t, give a damn why a STRANGER chooses to disrespect my personal space with unwanted interaction. When I say leave me alone, it means LEAVE ME ALONE.
So I screamed at the top of my lungs “Get out of my way” so loudly the man literally winced, covered his ears and RAN back to his truck that was parked near by. People were looking and he was embarrassed.
It, was awesome.
And empowering. Worse things have happened to me, but this was one of the first times I’ve ever responded so powerfully. It felt good and it balanced out the “ick” factor.
I truly believe that HollaBack helped me to be so assertive. Reading through your blog’s entries and article links has helped me understand what street harassment is really about: Power. Making women feel less than men in public spaces, making us feel like prey, whether we’re in a power suit or a sundress. Making us feel like we’re the property of any and every man on the street.
This won’t be the last time some stranger thinks he can treat me like I exist for his amusement.
But, I’m going to keep being loud. I’m going to keep holding harassers accountable whenever I feel safe enough to do so. And it’s going to feel good, oh so good.
Death to the “good girl,” I say.
Ladies, it’s time for us to get mean.
Submitted by Beth