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Tonight I decided to go for a walk. It was not my best decision apparently. After being pissed off at a friend of a friend for rape jokes, I needed some air. On my walk, I encountered one man, who was certain I was “his babe” and thought I needed to know how much he found my butt attractive. I didn’t. I told this man to fuck off and continued on my walk. However, after reaching the beach to which I was headed, enjoying myself and returning upon my way, I spotted a rather sketch looking man. A man around 5’6 (I estimate), chubby, light brunette hair and plaid shorts. With his hands in them. I was hoping this man would simply continue on his way and I could do such as well. As I continued walking, however, the man decided to follow me. I walked faster, he walked faster. I crossed to the other side of the street, so did he. I took a knife out of my pocket and into my grip, he slowed a little, but did not cease following. And just as I was going to turn and confront this man, a group of college students around my age came upon the street and saw the man following me with his hands in his pants. They started yelling, he stopped, they continued, I walked faster, he did not follow. Unfortunately, just before making it to my house, I spotted him again, this time across the street though. I stopped on a neighbor’s porch, held my knife and waited. He left. I’m not sure if he saw me this time or not. But this was certainly not the walk I was looking for.
Ocean City is supposed to be a “family based town”. The entire island is alcohol free. You’d think just a simple 45 minute distant run would be no problem…nope! I started running for MAYBE 10 seconds but it didn’t matter because the verbal abuse started. I crossed the street and this car full of guys were yelling things at me like, “hey you in the pink sports bra” and “nice a**!”. Worst part of all was that my younger brothers were running behind me. This verbal abuse makes me not want to go out and exercise.
Apparently men have no age discrimination when it comes to harassment. I was taking a power-walk with my 25 year old sister and my 50-something year old mother. (I’m 22). We were coming up to a house that had three men that look like they were in their early 20’s, all washing the same car. I could feel the tension building as we walked up to them. As soon as we got within 3 feet of them one of them said “Hey ladies, can we walk with y’all?” and then all the guys started laughing. I said “No thanks,” and we kept walking. I felt their eyes burning into our backsides as we kept walking. I felt literally dirty after this happened, and embarrassed that it happened in front of my mother of all people.
Have a way with words? Want to change the world? 100 Thousand Poets for Change is an upcoming international event that celebrates poetry and advocates social, political and environmental change.
Currently, 350 cities representing 70 counties are all planning their own public events, focusing on different topics that reflect local issues. The events will all take place at the same time on September 24 and will be documented through a blog.
AtréveteDF, the Hollaback! chapter in Mexico City, is getting involved and currently accepting poem submissions on sexual harassment and discrimination in public spaces as part of the worldwide event. They will publish these on their site and use them in public action. AtréveteDF is also partnering with the collective Contra La Violencia, El Arte (Against Violence, Art). The deadline to submit is September 5.
Before I even say anything about what I’ve experienced, I would just like to thank everyone at Hollaback! for providing me with a support system that no one else can offer. Your stories of countless bravery and people who have experienced the same things I have help me make it through the day.
I have recently experienced and remembered previous experiences of sexual harassment. Five, to be exact. Sorry in advance for the essay of a Holla!
1. This morning, I made the smart decision to wear a dress. It was either a dress or dirty laundry, so I chose a dress and wore bike shorts under them. As I walked up the stairs, getting off the subway, I turned and noticed that the old man behind me had his head eye level with my ass, and his neck craned unnaturally far forward. I instantly pulled my closed and gathered it in front of me. The man groaned, and I told my mom, too late, what had happened.
2. Yesterday, while getting off the subway (92nd St R station in Bay Ridge), I passed a man who I’d seen before in the neighborhood. Whenever people pass him, he mumbles nasty things, so I’ve known for a while that he is a threat. When I passed him on this particular day, he commented very clearly “Ooh, she’s got some of them short shorts!” I was wearing a pair of high waisted shorts with a pair of semi-sheer striped tights underneath them. As a result of walking up stairs like a normal person, they rode up. I turned to my mom when we made it to the top (five feet away from him) and she said that we shouldn’t interfere. For an hour, we argued about whether or not it was sexual harassment – and I definitely believe it was – and whether or not any cop would arrest him. Needless to say, it was an amazingly fun end to my day.
3. Earlier last week, I was walking with my friend to get lunch. While we were waiting for the light to change, a black SUV swerved closer to us. Slowing down and rolling down the windows, they screamed “Look, whore!” I heard the comment but didn’t realize who it was directed at me, as we were in a well-known prostitution area. My friend turned to me, shocked, and told me that the comments were directed at me. I turned to see if they were still there, but when they weren’t, my friend suggested I use Hollaback to get back at them. I’m no stranger to this site, despite being a 13 year old. Actually, I’ve been making lots of complaints in the past week. Guess the perverts mainly come out in the summer. Anyway, I didn’t get a very good look at them, but I did notice that one (the main one screaming) had brown hair.
4. About two weeks ago, while on the R train with my mom, a man came and stood very close to me. His crotch was incredibly close to my face, and though reading a newspaper, he was leering at me. I stopped playing my game and decided to watch the man. This didn’t stop him, but I honestly didn’t expect it to. When I got off the train, the man glared at me. Even being with my mother doesn’t stop perverts and pedophiles.
5. This happened about a year ago. At the time, I didn’t think it had anything to do with gender, but now I realize that it was all about gender. My mom and I were running from one of my classes to another, and we decided to catch a cab on W 81st St. and West End Ave as I needed to be in Astor Place in 20 minutes. We were in a hurry, so my mom asked the driver in a very loud, clear voice NOT to take us through Central Park and instead drive down Broadway. The man agreed to do so, but, cursing as he drove past Broadway, decided to take us through Central Park anyway. My mom asked him why he did so and he replied that it would be faster. About 45 minutes later, we were out of the park, but not out of the traffic. My mom repeated several times that we would have been better off avoiding the park. The man continuously argued with her about this, saying she never told him not to go through the park. When we reached 14th St. 20 minutes after that, we were in a small park. My mom reached for both her wallet and the door and announced that we were getting out. The man refused this and locked the doors. My mom started screaming “If you don’t let us out of here right now, I swear to god, I WILL KICK YOUR FUCKING WINDOWS IN!” The doors unlocked instantly and my mom threw a few dollars at the man. We left, and my mom smacked his window, flicked him off, and screamed “FUCK YOU!!!” A few people cheered, and we walked away. The driver got out of the car, irate, and the people instantly jumped up and surrounded him, saying “Get back in the car, man. Get back in the fucking car.”
As I walked past a group of 3 men, probably in their 30s, they started yelling, “Hey girl”, “Hey white girl”, “hey white girl in the black dress with the nice tits”…I continued to walk past them, trying to ignore them, but one stood up and walked after me saying, “what, are you racist or something? won’t talk to a black man?” I couldn’t remain silent any more…and I responded, “No. I don’t talk to people that objectify and disrespect me.” His cronies on the bench laughed, and he held his hands up and backed off.
Normally we do not post racial identifiers on this site, as per our anti discrimination policy. Exceptions include when the relevance of race is central to the story, as is the case in this post.
I spent the last semester abroad in Morocco. I’ve experienced street harassment but never like this. I was living in the medina, or old city, with a family, and every day my walk to and from school was a total battle. I hoped eventually I would get used to it, or the men would give up. But as much as I grew over the semester, I had to realize they didn’t.
On one occasion I was walking by myself on the main avenue of the “French city”. The sidewalks were crowded, people everywhere, big wide public spaces. Out of nowhere 5 boys went by on rollerblades, ages ranging from 25 to 16. The first one grabbed my breast as he went by. I turned to scream at him and another slapped my ass. A third grabbed my breast again. I screamed and cursed every word I knew in Arabic but no one did a thing. Families simply stared at the white girl causing a scene. The worst part was I was about a block away from a police station.
The actual groping was not an every day occurrence, but it was clear men knew about it. Any boy on a bike would swerve towards you and turn away at the last second with a terrible smile on his face as if to tell you, “I could if I wanted to.”
And the guys on my program never fully got it. They’d say it’s a big deal in the states too, or act as if it wasn’t a huge deal. Or give you tips on how to avoid it as if they know anything about how to deal with it. There is nothing a girl can do that should ever make that okay. It does not matter what she wears, how she holds her head, what words she screams after the fact. It just shouldn’t happen.
Towards the end my boyfriend came to visit. Suddenly, I could walk down the same streets with him and never hear a thing. It made me mad. The second he walked away, it would start up again. The men had no respect for me as a person, simply for my boyfriend and what apparently belonged to him.
In the end, we couldn’t hold back anymore and the girls on my program began verbally confronting men who would harass us. They always seemed in total shock that we didn’t like it. Apparently having someone violate your personal space and whisper obscenities in your ear without your choice is welcoming. I do believe a lot of them meant it without harm, but their willingness to let the cat-calling and following and pestering slide meant it was so much easier for those men who did mean harm to get away with it.
I live close to my workplace and I always like to take a walk to and from it to save gas and get exercise. While I was walking to work early one morning, a man stuck his head out of his vehicle as he drove by and yelled out an indiscernible comment. I thought nothing of it at first since I live on a main street in a city with many people. However, this man drove by me four more times, each time yelling something. The last two times he drove by, he swerved to the side of the road that I was walking on and asked me if I would like to go for a ride with him. The first time he asked me I replied, “No thank you, I am fine with walking.” The second time I told him if he didn’t leave me alone that I would call the Police. I took out my phone to get ready to call and walked briskly away and he finally drove away for the last time. I live close to where prostitutes work but that does not merit his disrespectful behavior. Some perverts just need to know when to quit and leave girls alone.
I used to love to run on the Greenline Trail near where I lived in Memphis. The only creepy thing was that it wound right alongside the county jail. On this particular day, not many people were out on the trail, and as I ran by the jail, I was completely alone. Out of the blue, I heard a voice coming from the jail: “Hey girl! I see you! Hey! I see you gettin’ right for the summer! Yeah, you! I see you! Hey girl!” I tried so hard to ignore the faceless voice, but all I wanted to do was scream “Shut the hell up!” I couldn’t manage to respond at all, and I was so creeped out by this, I never ran that way again. Inappropriate.
I was out with my boyfriend and a couple of his friends at local ski resort bar in Blue Mountain. We were dancing and have a great time, when some brute of a guy walked past me and slapped my butt extremely hard. I turned around and screamed, “don’t fucking touch me!” At this point my boyfriend clued in, grabbed an empty beer bottle and raised it towards the offending individual. (I realized this may not have been the right move, but hell, it got the point across) What the guy said next actually blew my mind, “hey man, I’m just looking to have a good time, no offense.” He apologized to my boyfriend, not me, as if I was HIS property. My boyfriend then told him to apologize to me and probably yelled some other obscenities his way before the guy ran off with his tail between his legs. I was fuming the entire night, to know that some guy thought he could use my butt, a complete stranger’s butt, as his enjoyment for the night. I’m glad he was thoroughly made a fool of.