It was a Friday night and I was out with 6 of my friends at the mall. It was the mall where everyone would go to after school so we went there regularly.
We were dressed in our school uniforms walking around. We reached this part where not many people went so when we were walking, we saw no one but another group of boys. I saw them before from afar, whispering and looking at us. I became a little uncomfortable because I knew that they were talking about us.
As my friends and I were walking, the guys started walking towards us. I was looking at all of them (they were about 5) to see if they were up to anything and then this one guy suddenly shouts “DAMN!”. My friends looked confused and uncomfortable but I let him go. A few seconds after, another guys says “DAMN GIRL!” and then another, and another. When we were quite far from them, the guys stop and look at us as we walk away. I can felt them staring so I looked back. When I did, this guy winked at me, gave me a big smile and said “BYE, GIRLS!”
I felt disrespected and really angry since they were being rude for no good reason at all so I gave them the finger and screamed “F*CK YOU” and walked away with my friends.
When they were out of sight, I talked to my friends told them how rude it was of them and they said that they didn’t even know it was directed at all of us which made me think about the thousands (or even millions) of people who get harassed everyday without knowing. Nobody should be able to just disrespect you like that. You shouldn’t let it pass.
A friend and I were walking to the bus stop yesterday, when we walked past the skate park. When we were almost past it, nearly every guy in the park (15 or more) started whistling at us, thrusting and beckoning to us. I gave them the finger, which resulted in one of them screaming ‘f*ck you bitch!’ to which my friend replied ‘that’s not polite!’. They continued to whistle at us as we walked down the street and some of us gave us the finger as well. I am a photographer, and on occasion I have photographed skaters at the park, many of which were there and harassed us that afternoon. They had never disrespected me before when I had worked with them, which made this incident even more unexpected.
It’s that time of week again! Time to find out what’s happening at Hollaback sites around the world!
Emily traveled all around this week–from Columbus, Ohio to Grand Rapids, Michigan! She spoke for both the Ohio Alliance Against Sexual Violence and the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence!
The rest of the New York office checked out the space for HOLLA::Revolution and the site leader conference to follow (The space is totally rad!!). Remember, tickets for HOLLA::Revolution are still available online! Trust us, you don’t want to miss it!
Hollaback! Around the Globe…
I woke up early to go to a meeting at my internship only to find out that the bus schedule online was incorrect meaning I would have to wait in the rain for the next bus to come and be late. It wasn’t even 8am, I was tired, wet, and rather cranky as I stood waiting and listening to music. I heard a weird nose and looked up to find a man slowly driving past me whistling at me loud enough to be heard over the music in my headphones. When I made eye contact he started blowing kisses at me as he continued to drive. I was too stunned to do anything except make a “what the hell” the face at him.
I am only fifteen, and it happens all the time. It’s so disgusting because a lot of these guys are old enough to be my dad. I have a lot of stories but I’ll share this one because it was one of the more disturbing ones. This guy comes up to me at a bus stop near my school. And I know that I may look older than I am but I was wearing a backpack, etc. So I think it was pretty clear i was underage. Anyways, he walks past me and looks me up and down and says something like “dayyyum” and making weird grunting noises. And I’m just thinking oh shit here we go again. I just ignore him. But he walks back towards me and starts talking to me, he says things like can I have your number, etc. I tell him I have a boy friend, which is what I always do so they’ll leave me alone. But he doesn’t get the message and he keeps harassing me and he starts saying “oooh i get it you’ve never fucked a guy before i get it” and other even more inappropriate things. And I try to make it really clear to him that i want him to fuck off but at the same time I’m so scared of what he’ll do if I am rude, or I shout at him.
I hate that they can make me feel that way. Then he goes in for a hug and I duck out of the way, thank god the bus came at that moment because he kept getting more and more aggressive. But when the bus pulled up he backed off. What was so weird was that he didn’t even get on the bus. OH and did i mention there were adults, including several grown men just standing there obviously aware of not doing anything. A girl in my french class was there too and she gave me a hug when we got on the bus and said she was sorry but she was scared to do anything. A lot of girls are scared and they shouldn’t have to be. And I am usually a pretty brave and tough person. I shouldn’t feel so frightened and harassed only two blocks from my school. I’m going to get mase but I shouldn’t have to, I don’t think I’m even actually allowed to bring it in my backpack to school so I have no way to defend myself. I wish I was as brave as my sister she always yells at people who harass her.
Just after finishing high school, I enrolled in a local community college and began to take classes there two days a week. Due to a mix-up, I had three hour long classes, then a two hour break, and then an hour long class. So, for two hours, I was stuck aimlessly wandering around campus, sitting in the lunch room, or hiding out in the library. On a particular day, the weather was relatively nice so I decided to walk around a little bit. An older man, maybe late 40’s?, walked past me, looked at me, and then started to follow me. I ignored him initially because he didn’t say anything, but after a few moments he began to call out to me. “Hey, how long are you going to keep walking away?” I nervously told him I was on my way to class and didn’t have time to talk. He caught up to me, not caring at all about my excuse, and continued to talk. “How old are you?” Thinking he would leave me alone if I was young, I lied and said I was 17, not 18. He laughed and put a hand on my shoulder, saying, “it’s okay, I can take you on a date, nobody has to know.” I started to walk faster, and I ended up having to pretend I was going into a class to get him to leave me alone. The last thing he said to me was, “I know where you go to class now! You’re gonna have to give me an answer some time!” Similar experiences happened so often to the point I stopped going after that. People don’t know what they’re doing to somebody when they “innocently hit on them.”
I’m a law intern and my friend and I, both girls, dressed professionally, were shadowing a judge in the municipal court today. During the ten-minute recess, we both went to the bathroom, passing through the large marble atrium on our way. Two men were leaning on a railing as we passed; one of them said “Sexy, sexy” to us, and the other “Yum, yum,” and other indistinguishable grunts as we passed them.
I’m sharing this story precisely because it is not shocking. I think it should be shocking. I was too shocked to respond. We are desensitized to this behavior and have come to expect it; my goal is to question that expectation and that passivity.
Last night, Hollaback! interns Maya and Sarah (that’s us!) spent the evening at The Hatchery’s Women’s Leadership Summit: Empowering Women Forward. It was a night that celebrated all its title would suggest and expressed the importance of women in leadership roles and how to empower one another to reach our goals.
In conversation with the speakers before they took stage, one theme seemed to rule the conversation– the obstacles and challenges in our world that have been left untouched. As part of the movement to end “street what?” we thought that this idea certainly applied to Hollaback! There are moments when tackling street harassment does sometimes feel like a “no one else is doing it” kind of project. From our conversation last night and from the stories that you have shared with Hollaback! about your own experiences of street harassment, we were reminded that it is often those causes that seem least known that are the most important to discuss.
Fortunately for us, this “street what?” is becoming less and less common. The internet has allowed us to connect our incredibly isolating incidences in a way that holla’s back against our harassers. As Yao-Hui Huang, founder of The Hatchery, said to kick off last night’s events, “It’s time to talk about power.”
It is time to talk about the power to stand up for yourself. It is time to talk about the power to respond to your harasser. And it is time to talk about how you can take back the power by telling a story, taking a photo, or standing up for a stranger in need of bystander intervention.
These are the powers we have to combat street harassment. And damnit, we’re going to use them. You go, holla-people!
-Sarah & Maya
I love riding my bike, I use it as transportation as often as I can. Riding home last night around 10p.m. a car driving the opposite direction slowed down and stared at me as he passed. I glared back. He proceeded to turn around, and follow slowly behind me, in the bike lane. I saw someone I know walking and slowed and pulled to the curb to talk with him. The car turned off on a side street. Annoying as hell. I love riding my bike. I hate harassment, and it happens every time, from catcalling, to following.
I was on my way to work this morning, and was mentally steeling my resolve and “don’t talk to me” body language in preparation for the couple of creepy suits that are invariably standing outside the building ogling like it’s a full-time job. So I was taken completely by surprise when, only a few yards from my car, an older man walking the other way insisted “hey, smile, come on!” I was so startled that all I could manage before he was out of earshot was “Seriously? Fuck you.” I wish I’d had the focus to stop him and ask him if he would say the same creepy shit to a young man, or if that would seem like a weird imposition on someone else’s life. New golden rule: if it would be creepy to say it to a man, it’s creepy to us too.