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I walk 2km to the library at least once a week, going past a park, some stores, and a few busy intersections. Usually no one bothers me, which is amazing, because I’m androgynous and short, which seems to give some peope the impression that it is safe or okay for them to comment on my appearance. But mostly I worry about getting hit by people who are driving their cars with their butts.
Not anymore! Some people can’t leave well enough alone when a genderbent person has the temerity to use the sidewalk.
“Hey, *giiirl*, gimme a smile.” It is lewd and leering and said right in my personal space. Being called “girl” makes me see red at the best of times—I’m an adult person and it’s deliberately misgendering.
“Mind your own business!”
He laughs, I flip him off and yell “F**k you!” and just keep walking, furious. I’m scared he might be following me, or some other creep will appear, so I call a friend—who immediately gives me a huge line of bullshit about “taking a compliment” and “not a big deal” and “that’s how men are”.
It’s minor in the grand scheme of things, but I walk this way all the time, I’m a recovering depressive and I need the library. And it’s my god damn sidewalk as much as anyone elses’! I already can’t go places after dark or past the clumps of loitering men that surround the grocery store. If I get harassed on this route again I’m going to flip my shit. Thanks for this site and its tip-of-the-tongue techniques for dealing with sexist aggression and the people who enable it.
I am proud of the way I handled this. I think if more women fought back and spoke up about this general, pervasive act of violence against us, less of this abuse would happen.
Earlier today, at around 10am, I went to clean off the windows of my car in preparation for going to the beach since they were so dirty, I couldn’t see. I was wearing a bikini tank top with short shorts but that is neither here or there.
I then heard coming from the Ralph’s store unloading dock area someone saying, “Hi”, and then cat calls and wolf whistles. I told them, “You need to respect women!” That is when I heard them call me a “Bitch!” I then walked over and confronted them and said that they need to respect women and to stop thinking that they are entitled to act like animals cause of what a woman wears and that they have no right to bully us around if they think we have “loose morals”.
Wanting to report their behinds to their company for calling me a “Bitch”, I ran back inside, saw their truck was parked next to a red light, and, next thing you know, a guy got out the truck, got in my face in a threatening manner, threatening to hit me – the entire time the tape was rolling – and felt he could intimidate me because of my 5’4, 100lbs frame. Because I was trained in Tae Kwon Do and in hand to hand combat, I stood my ground, I didn’t buldge and I let the film roll because if I were to run, that would show weakeness, a tactic a lot of women use which makes things worse since bullies and aggressors are only scared of aggression being thrown right back at them and so when you run, you show signs of weakness, which is what makes you an easy target since that is what predators like.
Interestingly, he also made racial epithets in terms of putting me down for my hair texture and calling me “manly looking” which further shows sexual Harassment and abuse is about male domination, bullying and control and not about “compliments” because if they felt I looked like a man, why approach me in the first place!?
So the cowardly Bastard jumps back in his truck and go. Fortunately, I got THIS incident on tape. I have a feeling he will be losing his job!
I felt great standing up to this Bastard. I am quite certain this is not the first time he did this but it will be the last with me because maybe he’ll realize some women will fight back and not put up with his Shit! I think if more women stand up to these fucks like I did, less of this would be happening since they do it to bully women since they feel we are physically inferior and weak so they feel we won’t fight back!
Unfortunately, most women don’t as when I spoke to a lady on my block about it, she said, “I would harass you to if I were a man and saw that body of yours”. Goddess, help us!
I was with some friends walking along the street and this truck of guys slows down and they start whistling and making noises. This nice man came to our rescue and told them to ‘f’ off and they drove away but he got their license number and called the cops.
A man who was older than me (almost 30), touched my behind in the street and went so quickly that I couldn’t tell something. Very mature.
Ok, this isn’t exactly a story. Well, it is, but it’s also a question. Sorry if it’s a little long!
So, I am a women who was born with a disability. I am a little person, but I am a proportional one, so I basically look like a little kid. (I think it’s due to an auto-immune disease). I also have Crohn’s disease, which is unrelated, but results in me being unable to eat and digest food properly, so I’m pretty skinny as well. (Now I’ve got some meat on my bones, because I’ve been in remission for almost two years. Go me! But I also swim, so I’m still pretty tiny). Besides that, I’m pretty conventionally attractive. I don’t say that to brag, but just to sort of give a context for my life–as in, I think I would have it worse if I wasn’t conventionally attractive, and it also draws more people to me. (Because society sucks that way)
People often compliment me on various things–my complexion, my hair, my body. Or they will ask/remark on my differences–which is annoying, but tolerable. However, they will then sometimes reach out AND TOUCH ME. They’ll stroke my cheek, or try to run a hand through my hair, or put their hand on the small of my back (still can’t figure that one out). It happens a lot at work (I’ve actually posted about it before.) The worst was a few weeks ago when a man grabbed me on both sides where my neck and shoulder meet and SHOOK me. I don’t know why. Everyone asks, and I honestly could not tell you what the fuck was going through his head.
It’s sometimes women, but it’s mostly men who do this, and my question is two-fold. 1) Is this more of an ableist/opportunity thing, or do you guys think there is a sexualized element to it as well? (When it’s men) 2) Do you guys think that I would experience the same thing if I were a man? (Are there any male posters with experiences of this?) I’m not sure why it matters–I guess I just want to be able to identify the type of harassment, in order to respond properly.
Thanks and sorry this was so long!
I was waiting to board my bus home after work – by the back door, because the Metro bus I take is notoriously busy (and gross, but that’s another story). I stepped slightly to the side, as I always do, so that others could de-board before I got on the bus. One man stepped off, and said an awkward, “hi” as he passed me. The next man, whom I’m assuming was with him, reached out and grabbed (rubbed, really) my breast as he walked past me. I was SO shocked, I continued to step onto the bus. I couldn’t believe that had just happened. I had a weird moment of disconnect, like I was just watching his hand come at me. I don’t know if anyone saw, but if they did, no one said anything. I was angry/totally freaked out/sad that I didn’t even SAY ANYTHING to him. I didn’t even get a good look at him, so I had no description. I called the police to report it, because I felt so terrible that he got away with it because I didn’t scream at him or react in any way. I was angry. The police couldn’t do anything, obviously, since I had zero description and it’d happened hours earlier, but I felt better having reported it so SOMEONE. Now, I cross my arms as I board the bus, and today boarded with my cell phone camera at the ready in case something similar happens again. This was a rude awakening that I need to be more alert, ready to use my voice, when downtown and on the bus.
Because of your support, we continue to move and shake. This week:
Hollaback Philly needs your support! They write, “You heard about our advertising campaign for the Philadelphia subway lines. Help us expand that campaign to include more ads, and push us toward our goal of getting ads in bus shelters in Philadelphia!” Visit their project page and click “Vote for this Idea.” If they win, they’ll recieve the $1000 needed to bring anti-harassment ads to the Philly bus shelters!
Street harassment happens everywhere. No matter what you wear, what time of day or where you are heading. This video is proof. The attendees of July’s Otakon here at the Baltimore Convention Center had plenty to say about street harassment. They were getting it from strangers back home AND from Baltimore, whether in cosplay or street clothes, and even from some other attendees (who you’d think would be happy enough to be around like-minded people that they wouldn’t ruin it for some fellow nerdy women). This video help shows that it is not the women or lgbtq folks who need to change their behavior, it is the harassers.
Well done Hollaback Bmore! Check out their video, above.
Thank you, Amy! We were very sad to say goodbye to our summer staff member, Amy Klein. Amy is the co-founder of Permanent Wave, an amazing network of feminist activists and artists. This summer, Amy authored our new guide for activists interested in launching Hollaback sites on college campuses. We are honored to have worked with her, and she will surely have a lasting impact on our organization and the movement.
Hollaback Boston Chalks it Up! Join them in their direct action sidewalk chalking on August 11th — and send us the photos! We’ll post them here on ihollaback.org.
Hollaback Brussels issues a public statement in response to the government’s new 250 euro street harassment fines. They write, “We are very happy to witness how Belgian Politicians are acknowledging the issue and making legislative plans to address sexism and street harassment. We’d like to encourage them further but we also would like to see a deeper analysis and research for the problem at hand.” They offer a ton of great suggestions and alternatives to criminalization. Check them out, here.
We’re all in this together, so thanks again for your support.
HOLLA and out –
I was walking with two male friends and we happened to be walking very close together. I’m female-bodied but present ambiguously. A car drove by and slowed down, calling us “A bunch of faggots,” and then sped away really quickly.
This is on my walk to work every day. And every day, there are three or more men that sit on this street corner. Not just on one side, but both. Sometimes one stands in the middle. So when you walk through, you are surrounded. And every time I walked down the street, the harassment would start about half a block away. One would see me and nudge his friends. All would turn to look until I got closer. One of them would call out, “Morning, sugar.” Relatively harmless comments grow less so as I walk through. “Looks like you on the catwalk this morning.” “Sexy, girl.”
I have since switched to walk a longer route to work every day to avoid this specific group of men. I hate that I have altered a daily component of my life because of them, and I usually get harassed more innocuously anyway on my half-hour walk to work.
“sexy” as I walked past in the street