Remembering my first hollaback!

This happened a long time ago, but I remember it vividly because it was the very first time I hollaed back.

I was 18 and living in Paris at the time, and as all Parisians, used the subway to get pretty much anywhere. I was coming back from a long cramming session at the university library, mid-terms were coming up and I was studying non stop. It was around 23h30, when a bulky bald man sat next me. I smiled quickly and went back to my book. A few minutes later, I felt something against my leg; I was wearing a skirt and tights. When I looked down at my thigh, I saw a finger circling a certain spot on my leg. I was confused for a few seconds, I looked at the man’s face and he was looking forwards as if nothing was happening. The subway wasn’t crowded, the guy wasn’t even worried about getting caught.
I stood up and ordered him to keep his filthy paws to himself, and told him I was going to contact security as soon as we reached the next stop. I was speaking loudly, making it a point of others hearing, although I don’t do that often. I was just so angry and disgusted. I told him I might have been barely eighteen but I was big to enough to stand up for myself and to know that there was no justification for his behavior. At that point he tried to get off the subway, and another passenger stepped in and told the guy he had already pressed the emergency button and security would be there in a few minutes. That same guy offered to escort me to my stop, I quote “but I’m pretty sure you don’t need it, I wish more women did what you did”.

Since that day I always answer back. Why is it that we are made to believe that answering back is rude or a sign of lack of class, and don’t even consider the behavior that prompted such reaction in the first place?

There is nothing rude about reminding a jerk that you are not an inflatable doll with no brain or willpower. Holla back every single time!

Submitted by Patricia Camelo

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3 Responses

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  1. lisa says:

    As a child in NYC I learned to refrain from looking at strangers, no eye contact especially. as it is seen as an invitation, and certainly no smile. You need not smile at anyone, and certainly not at a strange man, even if he sits next to you. Also, if you don’t like a situation, just get up and move; they usually act surprised and ashamed.

  2. Kate says:

    I wish I’d done what you did back when men used to rub up against me on the bus or subway. I never did – just moved away and gave them ground. Thought about standing up and calling them on their behaviour many times but never, ever did.

    Congratulations. And right on!

    Which is not to say the I never tried to call attention to that kind of intimidation. On more than one occasion when I was walking home late at night, I would find that there was a car driving alongside me or just behind me. It would keep pace with me for 2 or 3 blocks – which is WAY too slow for a car to be moving on a largely empty street.

    However, we used to have a video booth here in Toronto where, for a dollar, you could talk to a camera for a couple of minutes and every week the sponsoring tv station would air a selection of segments. I went down there and recited the license plate numbers of the cars that had been tailing me. I’m pretty sure it was never aired, though.

  3. Abby says:

    You go girl!

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