There is a man in downtown silver spring in a wheelchair harrasing women. Not just women, but only plus sized women. He talks about how he would love to give them a baby. And he goes on about what an amazing lover he is. He rides in an automatic wheelchair, and usually has on a suit.
one time i was walking down the street with some friends and i passed this man who was leaning against a wall, staring at women as they passed by.
he wasn’t interested in me (praise be to the gods) but he was interested in a woman that was walking past from the other direction.
he watched her and said (while staring at her ass), “mmmm.. lookin’ good. lookin’ real good.”
the woman ignored it, but i was just too repulsed to leave it alone so i stopped on the sidewalk, turned around, and caught him square in the eye with such a look of disgust that imagining it now seems sort of comical. he already seemed caught off guard, but i added, with as much feeling as i could muster without shouting, “ew!”
he seemed genuinely embarrassed. he broke eye contact and stared at his feet until i stopped looking at him and moved on.
I am training for a marathon and while out running I passed a car full of what appeard to be high school aged boys waiting at the intersection. They yelled out that they liked my ass. I ignored them and kept running. When they drove passed me after the intersection they called me a slut and threw a can of soda at me. It missed me but went so close to my head I could feel it flying past.
I spend a lot of energy on a daily basis considering how to best respond to street harassment. What I want is a quick, sure-fire way to shut down the harasser without any follow-up conversation or possibility of leaving them thinking the behavior is flattering, while also avoiding provocation of violence or retribution.
It’s not easy to fit all of that into a three-word phrase you can yell at a passing car.
Earlier this week, as I walked my bike up the hill to my house (yes, I am that lazy, but it’s a serious hill), I had an interesting encounter. When the car pulled up next to me, passenger hanging out the window, I braced for the worst – instead, “Hey, hey miss – how much did your bike cost?”
I was so confused at the non-harassy inquiry, that my response came out a confounding combination of multiple possible answers: “Not enough!”
The passenger barely got out a “…What?” before the driver took matters into his own hands and left me to my reflections.
I should acknowledge, I have a fairly hilarious track record of this; once, as a colleague commiserated about a dreary Monday over the coffeemaker, I responded in a combination of “Mondays are the worst” and “Can’t it be spring yet?” The result: a very hyperbolic, “It’s the worst Monday yet!” (What? Indeed.)
This most recent experience left me wondering – what if I just responded to all street harassment with a ridiculous non-sequitur? Would it stop the conversation in its tracks? Prevent escalation? Give the harasser a moment of pause the next time they consider commenting on a stranger’s derriere?
Yesterday, I happened across a reference to Jenna Marbles’ video How to Avoid Talking To People You Don’t Want To Talk To. The answer, she says, is in The Face – and I couldn’t help but think that this might translate exceedingly well as a response to street harassment. Who needs a three-word retort when this is an option? Go on, click through and give it a watch.
What’s your favorite response to street harassment? Would you try The Face?
I smiled at a man in the car on my way home one day. He folkowed me to the edge of the block and kept on telling me to get in his car so he could drive me home. It took awhile for him to leave me alone. hes short and mid 30’s. Watch out for this asshole
This October 17 – 19 in Washington, DC the Healthy Masculinity Summit will mark the beginning of the Healthy Masculinity Action Project. The summit’s structure, designed to be facilitated through conversations instead of presentations, requires skilled dialogue facilitators about issues like ending street harassment and more.
That’s where the topnotch faculty members for the Healthy Masculinity Summit come in. These individuals, representing a wide range of expertise and issues, will be the conversation-starters. Faculty members include people like:
–Rosalind Wiseman, author Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World, the groundbreaking bestselling book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls.
–Joe Ehrmann, Founder and President of Coach for America, called by Parade Magazine “the Most Important Coach in America”
–Jacquelyn Boggess, Co-Director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice and President of Women in Fatherhood
–Andrew Barnett, Executive Director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), winner of the Metro Weekly Next Generation Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of LGBT activists, artists, and leaders under 30
Learn more about the Healthy Masculinity Summit’s topnotch conversation-starters and take advantage of early bird registration price, ending August 17th:
I was sitting on the train home from uni, minding my own business. It was evening but still the rush hour train so it was packed. There I was looking out the window minding my own business and listening to music when these to guys get on the train. I payed no mind to them until I started to feel observed. I looked up and sure enough they were staring. I considered changing seats but the train was packed and I live at the end of the line. So I turned away, two other girls get on and sit across from them which for a moment deflects their stares. unfortunately the girls get off one stop later and I’m left with them sitting across from with a row between us. I start to notice how the one directly in front of me has stretched out so his legs are touching mine from under the row in front so I pull my legs closer to me and start to freak out. They continue talking and staring and I’m getting angrier and angrier. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when one of them pulls out his phone and it looks like he’s taking pictures. I get up out of my seat, tell them that they are vile disgusting creatures and basically tell them to sod off, basically screaming how they have harassed me for the past half hour and stomped off further down the train. I was so afraid to do that at first because I was afraid how other people would judge me for telling them off but couldn’t stand being treated that way for any longer. I felt much better for having said something.
I witnessed this man secretly recording woman’s private parts on the 7 train. I also saw him viewing previously recorded video on his phone.
I was on a job interview, like an on-the-job one where I observe an experienced seller and also try some selling myself. I was paired with the assistant manager of the office I was applying for. It was just me and him on a rainy weekday afternoon going door to door on a pretty much empty street.
To begin with, he was just being brusque and patronising, but I thought it was just to get me off balance and see how I cope under pressure.
Then he started invading my personal space, flirting with me, making really inappropriate , frankly quite racist comments and stuff like that. The worst thing he said was ‘you’d be great for porn you know’. I was just looking for an excuse to leave. Then my dad rang and asked when I would be home. I pretended that he was asking me to come back home and I left.
He insisted on walking me to the bus stop and carried on harassing me when I was there. When the bus arrived he felt my arse and said ‘chin up. you’re pretty you know, for a black girl’.
I cried my eyes out when I got home and I haven’t been on a job interview since.
This week’s edition is all about PRIDE. We are proud of the tremendous progress made for LGBTQ individuals this year, proud of the tremendous legacy left by our interns Natalie and Victoria, and proud to have Rikera and Sunny on our team this summer. Here’s the details:
PRIDE! We marched with over 45 fellow Hollabackers this year in New York City’s PRIDE parade — it was incredible. Thanks to everyone who marched with us! We also met with Kate McDonough, lead organizer at Empire State Pride Agenda this week to discuss collaboration.
Duke’s Moxie Project Visits Hollaback! We are lucky to have two interns on board with us this summer from Duke — Rikera Taylor and Sunny Frothingham. The rest of their cohort came to visit Hollaback! on Friday, and I spoke with them about what it was like grow Hollaback from the ground up.
A big thank you to Natalie and Victoria! We are so grateful to our volunteers Natalie Richman and Victoria Travers for their many, many months of service to Hollaback!. Natalie worked with us to grow our legislative relationships and was a critical component to the success of our first safety audit in Queen. Victoria designed the blog that you know today – even this “week in our shoes” column was her idea! Their legacy will be felt for years moving forward, and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
HOLLA and out —