So, this past new years eve (2012), I was visiting my friend studying abroad in England. We decided to brave the crowds and head down to the Thames River to watch the fireworks. We were about one block behind big ben. It was extremely crowded, obviously. Because of this, some group of asshole guys that it would be fun to harass my friend and I. They kept catcalling at us, whispering in our ears, etc. We were getting pretty pissed off and even a little scared. I totally flipped my shit when one guy thought I wouldn’t notice when he decided it was a good idea to reach under my dress and to start grabbing my ass/crotch. I started yelling, screaming, anything to get someone’s attention. I yelled one explicative after another at the man, to which he and his horde responded: “women can’t talk like that to a man.” After a few minutes of me screaming my ass off, he backed away. To my knowledge, no one even flinched.
I was jogging/walking & had passed this guy who was hanging out with his friend’s family. After I was done jogging for a while, he yelled, “Girl! put some pep in your step.” I kept walking away & then he yelled again, “GIRL! PUT SOME PEP IN YOUR STEP!!!” I turned around to glare at him and continued walking away.
I’m walking to the public library that is across my small town from where I live. I was walking alone (yes I am in highschool walking through my city alone, but I keep my hand in my pocket with my keys between my knuckles at all times, as my town is known for douchebag stoners hitting on girls my age)
Anyways, I’m walking and come to a stop to wait for the crosswalk. Across the intersection to my right were two homely looking men with large coats and hair that hadn’t been washed in weeks; these two men j-walked across the street, running and pointing at me as the got closer and closer to me. “Hey!” one of them shouted. As naturally as I could I ignored them until they got right behind me.
“Hey my name is [i dont remember] and hey maybe you wanted to come hang out with me and my bud, if youre into that stuff” and I repeated no to each of their offers. When it finally came to the point of, “hey I never caught your name!” and I replied with “Ker” and he shook my hand, and without letting go of my hand he asked me my last name which I replied with, “you have no reason to care about that” which to my relief made them back up and away from me. After I repeatedly pressed the crosswalk button to save me he asked me the most revolting question of all…
“Hey girl, how old are you?” which I replied with “too young for you to be screwing around with.” “So you arent 18?” which I was really pissed off at this point and yelled “NO! goodbye.” “Fine fine” and he turned around to his bud and said “damn, what do they FEED the girls around here?!”
I do not deserve to live in a world where I am confronted with these people when i’m just trying to walk around!
My new years resolution is not taking this crap anymore, so I am posting again because this week has been full of harassment.
Thursday June 6th, 2013
A guy followed me for three blocks. I had my phone out and was violently texting people my location, and had my pepperspray in hand. I walked as fast as I could. Finally, I came to a busy intersection and ran across the street. Since there was some distance between us I screamed at him. I was pretty furious at this point. “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT!? ARE YOU A FUCKING RAPIST MUGGER OR SOMETHING!? IF MY ROOMMATE DOESN’T HEAR FROM ME IN TEN MINUTES HE’S CALLING THE COPS! WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME!?” He was really embarrassed. “I just thought you were really pretty and wanted your number…” I didn’t let him finish before I flipped out again. “FUCK YOU FUCKING FUCK! FUCK NO YOU FUCKING CREEP! GO THE FUCK AWAY!” I just screamed at him until he rounded the corner.
Saturday June 8th, 2013On the way back from work I got harassed by 3 different men in cars. As I was crossing the street one guy demanded to see my breasts. I screamed at him and gave him the finger and kept walking. He called me an “ugly slut,” and all sorts of other names. I really wish I had kicked the bumper of their car in, or walked up behind it and taken a photo of the license plate to post here. Considering that he was in a car full of other men who did nothing to stop him, they deserved to have their bumper kicked in. The next person who harassed me was a college aged guy with glasses with the glass punched out who was stoned out of his mind and sitting in the back seat of a car. He yelled that I was sexy, and I kept moving still pissed off from the previous car. The third car was the scariest, a guy pulled up near me and followed me for a block asking for my number. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I picked up my phone and acted like I was going to call the cops. Once again, pissed that I didn’t get the license plate number.
I was walking down Jordan, one of the most traversed roads in my town, and this old beat-up truck pulled over and slowed to keep pace with me. The guy in the truck rolled down his window and let out a long, loud wolf-whistle, eyebrows waggling, the whole shebang. I decided if they were going to try to catch my attention like you would a dog’s, I would respond in the only appropriate way: I barked. The idiot’s eyes went wide, shocked and offended. He sped up and drove off, middle finger out the window.
There is a major intersection between my apartment and the nearest grocery store. Almost every time I walk there, at least one man harasses me. Usually it’s some guy telling me to smile or calling me “babe” or “sexy.” No amount of rolling my eyes or talking on the phone deters them. But every now and then a guy will try to get me into his car. This terrifies me, especially as I’m 5’2″ and 115lb – pepper spray and self defense could only get me so far against a determined, beefy man and his car.
I was on light rail with my bike, and a tall 30-something drunk (reeking of booze) guy came up to me: “you is so motha fuckin cute. yo eyes go. they goooooo” I said thanks and looked away. I was wearing headphones, I hoped he would get the memo. He then proceeded to poke my stomach “oh I thought you was fat you just wearin a big shirt” I told him not to touch me and continued looking the other way, (with an incredibly annoyed face on) He then grabs a lock of my hair and tells me I look like a porn star. I backed up and was caught between my bike, someone else’s bike, and the stairs to the car door. He was at least a foot and a half taller than me. He continued to stare at me and I told him to please leave me alone. He started rambling slurs and curse words and moved up the train. I noticed him heckling some girls that had just got on after the high school. The train car was full of witnesses, older, bigger people who could have said something to him when he touched me and grabbed my hair but no one did.
VA-bound yellow line at about 1:15am Sunday: a slightly tall male of average build in his mid-30s followed my fiance and me onto the metro. He stared at me on his way onto the car, sat down across from us, and continued to stare for about 15 min. Then, he got up, while staring, and sat closer to us, just across the aisle. He turned toward us and continued to stare until we ran off the metro to switch cars.
This excerpt is taken from Vitamin W, with permission.
Once I became a man, I was finally legally married. A few years earlier, while still a woman, I had married my wife, but the backward state where we live didn’t recognize our union. Once my name was changed from Mary to Mark, we were legally man and wife. Well, a trans man and a lesbian wife. Nobody checks your chromosones.
That was the first indication that many things were going to get better for me. Better on the street, at school, on the job or even at the grocery store; life is way easier when you’re perceived as a seemingly straight man.
As a man you’re:
ALLOWED TO WALK WITHOUT CAT CALLS
As a butch lesbian, I’d get harassed. I was the ubiquitous coffee house dyke and had to walk just three blocks to my job, but I had to lace keys through my knuckles, I’d get three guys in shitty cars offering to give me the ride of my life as I walked to work.
Not having those interactions anymore is so relaxing. The ability to walk around in this world without fear of harassment or violence is something I am fully aware is an enormous privilege. I knew this was part of the journey, but I had no idea how much stress would be alleviated by not having to be a woman out and about in the world.
For the full article, click here.
It’s time for a REVOLUTION!
As many of you know, Hollaback! is holding the FIRST EVER international conference on street harassment–Holla::REVOLUTION! Featuring speakers, activists, and performers! Put the date on your calendar: JULY 25th @ New York University! Get more info & your ticket here!
In other news…
We’ve had quite the eventful week here at the mothership!
Hollaback! interviewed New York writer, artist, and creative trailblazer Gina Tron! Gina is the designer behind Hollaback’s upcoming t-shirt design. Find out what bought her to Hollaback! and what she has to say about street harassment.
We met with members of Vitamin Women and H&M to discuss potential partnerships, and had a long talk with Morgan-Stanley. They are doing some great pro-bono consulting with us on our work at college campuses.
Emily spoke at Feminist Summer Camp, and we had our June HOLLAhappy hour! It was a blast — and we made some incredible signs in preparation for PRIDE.
The home office is also saying farewell to our Communications Intern, Julia Daye. Thank you Julia for all of your hard work! You will be missed! Hollaback! is also welcoming two new interns to our New York City office–Sarah Scriven and Maya Flippen.
In the final week of our Raise For Women challenge, former Hollaback! Intern Lindsey published her article in the Huffington Post! The piece, titled “Alcohol, Street Harassment and Fault: A Bartender’s Dilemma,” is a candid discussion of thought-provoking contradictions and raises important questions regarding everyday violence and harassment. Definitely a must read. Hollaback’s new Employer Guide was covered in New York Nonprofit Press!
Also, Emily’s Interview with GirlTank was a big hit! Check it out here:
And here’s what happened around the world:
Hollaback! Edinburgh will be presenting at parliament on Next Generation Feminism on June 14! Also, Ellie just published a great piece on the site on why its so important to speak up, whether you yourself are the target of harassment or a bystander to it.
Hollaback! Ottawa‘s Julie Lalonde was cited in a Halifax Metro News article regarding the transit commission’s desire to meet with different activist organizations to make their transit systems safer. Way to go Julie and the Hollaback! team!
Hollaback! Boston has been up to a lot! On June 5th, they teamed up for a Spitfire event discussing street harassment. Check out the great pictures of the event on their site! On June 8th, Boston hollas will be marching in the Boston Pride Parade! In this week’s edition of Boston’s “Introducing” series, hollas interview Kendall, a Bostonian yogi and nutrition guru. Finally, check out Kayla’s witty and honest piece, “I’ll smile when you stop telling me to.”
Hollaback! Wellington welcomes a brand new site manager to their team! Welcome to the Hollaback! family, Tom!
Thank you for another incredible week! Keep up the inspiration!