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My first two years of college I went to an all-women’s liberal arts school in the midwest. Boys loved to drive down the main road that goes right through the middle of campus. There’s a lot of catcalling involved, they revved their trucks up a bunch. Even today I catch myself flipping off anyone who honks at me out of habit.
My best friend and I were walking down the street to get McDonald’s around nine or ten at night. A car full of boys spotted us on the sidewalk, yelled from their windows and sped off only to turn around again on the next street. They passed us again and said “show us some skin!” and again “take it off!” By this point they had a megaphone from some high school that wasn’t Nevada’s. The fourth time, they threw change at us and sped off for the final time. Yes, change. Nickels, pennies, dimes. The rest of our trip consisted of rage and a faster pace.
We were Cottey girls, very confident and proud to be women. There was nothing we could’ve done in that situation, the only escape were unlighted back streets. I felt vulnerable, unsafe and pissed off there was nothing I could do about it, except tell my story. But believe me, if i had ANYTHING to throw at them I’d have scared the bastards past Kansas City.
Nevada isn’t full of jerks, just like all guys aren’t jerks. Being an asshole has nothing to to with gender, just your sole ability to be an asshole.
I was walking with a local guy friend of mine at night back to the school from town. A police officer stopped us and questioned him. He asked where we had been and where we were going.
“I’m taking her back to the girl’s school..”
The officer looked at me and asked “Willingly?” No sarcasm hinted, no smile. Dead serious.
He said goodnight and drove off. It’s sad the officer assumed he was a bad person because he was alone with a girl at night.
This blog, by Nicola Briggs, is part of a series on perspectives about street harassment.
A man asked me the other day, upon learning of my years of training in Tai Chi movement and meditation, “Do you know how to fight?” I told him that I would do anything I had to in order to secure my physical and psychological safety in that moment, and so would anyone else with a healthy appetite for life, and that I’ve devoted more time developing training and awareness in that area than the average person. I think he may have been disappointed in this response, perhaps expecting me to flip him over my shoulder and prove myself to him, but I wanted to make clear the implications of what he was asking.
Do I have a repertoire of techniques practiced over many years which have become instinctual by now? Yes. Do I, or does anyone else truly have what it takes to react fluidly and appropriately the moment danger is there? Hopefully, yes. But even people with many years of training in this arena can freeze, so anyone without that training has got to realize that the equalizing factor in that type of stressful situation is not necessarily experience, but mindset.
Having what it takes to survive and even take control of a threatening situation is a matter of mental preparation. This doesn’t mean that you’re looking around every corner or over your shoulder all the time in a paranoid way. It just means that you know yourself, and that you’re willing to get in touch with something I like to call your ‘Inner Tiger,’ if necessary, which I’ll explain further in future postings. It also means you are willing to become even more open to the signals that your environment is sending you at every moment: who is close to you, who has their eyes on you, and what is the nature of their intention? Only an increased sensitivity to your surroundings will provide you with the correct answers to those critical questions, and ultimately give you the best chance of staying out of harm’s way.
I was crossing the street on my way to Union Square when a man walking beside me asked about the name on my shopping bag. I told him it was a store. He asked what they sold and I responded “clothes.” He then became very angry saying, “Oh, you’re going to give me attitude? You think you’re better than me?” and then proceeded to call me names and threatened to “bash my head in.” He was shouting in a crowded street in broad daylight and all people did was watch. I immediately turned around and began walking the other way. He yelled “I see where you’re going slut!”and continued to follow me. I saw a security guard standing outside of a Bank of America and stood beside him until the man passed me. I was shaking and terrified.
This happened last week. I know it’s not on the street but it was still uncalled for. It happened in a grocery store. It was my first time in the store since I had just moved to the area. Not 5 minutes into shopping, I hear someone whistling. When I look up, there’s a male employee looking at me and making kissy noises. He does it twice. I immediately turn down another aisle and far away as possible. But since the incident, I have emailed the store who say they will discuss it with their employees. My husband was very angry when I told him about it. Now I’m just paranoid to go places by myself.
Man on a train approached me when I was sitting reading and repeatedly told me how sexy I was and when I told him I was going to meet my boyfriend he said ‘oh so you’re not going to fuck me in the toilets then’ it was in an empty train carriage at 22:30 at night I was terrified.
It’s been another productive week at Hollaback and I couldn’t be more proud of our incredible network of activists worldwide who work tirelessly to end street harassment in increasingly creative ways.
Check out People Magazine. The article was just published online and highlights our work in the “Heroes Among Us” series. To be published in a magazine with about 44 million readers shows how our movement just keeps growing bigger and bigger.
Here’s what our sites around the world have been up to:
In a very exciting move by the Scottish Parliament, a motion was passed in support of Hollaback Edinburgh‘s launch. Parliament also acknowledged Hollaback as an “influential movement.”
For the third time in two weeks, Hollaback Poland has appeared on TV. This time there was a whole program about Hollaback on the national news (watch here). Not only that but there is going to be a major piece about them in one of Poland’s biggest newspapers.
Timeout Istanbul named Kacie Lyn Kocher, Ezgi Çinçin, Nihan Güneli of Hollaback Instanbul on a list of Istanbul’s heroines! Kacie told Timeout, ‘Building a definition and providing examples of what street harassment is, showing what it looks like and describing how it makes you feel are the first steps to fighting it.’
Let’s keep getting the word out about street harassment. You all never cease to amaze me.
HOLLA and out,
I was walking to my bus stop when a man decided to give me the “once over” and made lewd comments about my physical appearance.
I work in southern Italy during the summer and ride the trains to get to and from various places. On a Saturday, when returning from a visit, I was standing on the train with a few friends and a group of 20 year old guys got on. They were annoying, like a lot of guys that age can be – you know, talking loud, pushing each other around, etc. I turned my back to them and just kept talking with my friends. They started making smooching noises (kind of an Italian catcall) – I kept ignoring them. Then I felt someone grab my back. I really couldn’t believe it – trains get crowded, so I didn’t do anything. And then it happened again and I realized that this guy was grabbing me. And for the first time in my life, I froze. I didn’t know what to do at all. Here I am in a foreign country and I have no idea what to do. My sister (who works in India) would talk about women being grabbed and worse on the train – she herself had been groped. I remember getting angry at her for not doing anything about it – not telling anyone. But, standing on that train, being grabbed – I didn’t know what to do either. I was angry at myself for not standing up. I was angry at the guy in my group for not doing anything (although, he told me later, he was just as shocked too). All I could think about was “what if I do something and it just escalates?” I hate that feeling of powerlessness. And then I thought, well, it was just a grab – these things happen. But I’m still mad about it half a year later.
I have experienced street harassment. Last year, I walked past an Italian restaurant in Watertown, near Boston, when two men hollered at me from the patio. These men looked about 75 years old, and I was 16 when this happened. They told me, “Hey girl! Come over here!” I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I really felt offended. I hadn’t approached them or talked to them or anything, and yet it seemed that they saw a young woman and thought I must be a good target. I was worried about what they would do. There were no witnesses, so all I could do was run away. Thankfully, I haven’t seen them since. But the memory continues to haunt me.
A man rushed up behind me on the car park escalator and ejaculated all over the back of my dress then disappeared . I wandered the streets in shock.
Two weeks later a woman was abducted from the same location and driven to bush land raped multiple times then her throat was slit and she was left to die. She is still alive today.
I regret not reporting my incident as it may have prevented what happened to this woman.