In July 2010, while returning home at around 7:30 pm, I felt like I was being watched.
I realized that these were the same people who always seemed to hang around that place when I returned from my Language studies at the nearby institute. That particular night, I had walked a little forward to catch my bus home. The area was dimly lit and no one was around. There were three men. They started to sing and cat call. I turned around to confront them and was chased and later stabbed with a throw knife. I had to run for my life and I barely made it out. Fortunately, there is a police box very close to that place now. But there are countless such dingy and dark alleyways in our city where people keep harassing women, making them feel unsafe.
It is not about wearing clothes since in our city, most women wear salwar or saree anyway. The fear also arises because mostly who revolt are either beat up badly or in worst cases, shot or stabbed. People are afraid of raising a voice or even share their stories. I feel that if the support behind these harassers is destroyed, our city’d be much safer.
Group of guys shouted at me from their car as they drove by.
Last week, I stopped at the local Starbucks to buy a cappuccino, when I noticed an older man sitting alone at a table who seemed to be staring at me. Let me just say that I’m a freshman in high school, and I wasn’t wearing anything ridiculous, just a t-shirt and shorts. The man seemed to be at least fifty years old, and when I turned around to pay for my drink, I realized that he was staring at my butt. Not even trying to hide it, or at least having the decency to look ashamed when I turned around. I was thoroughly creeped out, and since I was just by myself (I was meeting a friend), I was too scared to sit down alone, in case he approached me. I was so uncomfortable I just took my coffee and left. Later when I told my friend about it, I said, “I guess my shorts are kind of short.” She stopped me right there, saying “You have the right to wear shorts, it’s hot out! That doesn’t mean he has the right to look at you like that!” I realized that she was right. That random man made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable in my own neighborhood, blocks from my house, and it’s just as bad in other places. it isn’t fair, it wasn’t my fault, and it has to stop.
This man followed me around the boot sale, leering at me and trying to catch my attention. When I told him to leave me alone he started calling me “fat cow”. This was in front of my mum, boyfriend and several other people. I then took a photo of him, and as a response he flicked me with a hose and called me “piggy”.
I feel their eyes leering at me as I walk by…
targeting me for their next attack.
my eyes looking straight ahead
thoughts racing through my mind
heart beating a little faster,
hoping they won’t say anything to me
I heard ruthless comments directed at me…
Catcalling me as if I was an object
I heard them laughing…
making sexual comments about my body
and grunting at me like animals
I hear this and don’t dare look back…
a huge rush of emotions flooded my body
My heart aches for the day
street harassment will be no longer,
where I, along with everyone else, can walk around
without fear, doubt, or worry
My body is not public property.
I am a woman who demands respect.
This week Hollaback! was featured by The Guardian (London), Boston Neighborhood Network News, RH Reality Check, The Dalhousie Gazette, The Guardian (US), NY Press, The Post, Athen’s News, CTV, and NYU Local. ED, Emily May, spoke at a NYC Lady Drinks event for the International Day of the Girl.
Next week, we have some exciting news in store, so watch this space! In the meantime, meet our Development and Research Intern, Stacy Bullard!
Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback Gent co-organized a self-defence workshop that will be held this Saturday. They also held a meeting with a representative from Gent City Council to address street harassment targeting LGBT and to discuss the issue homophobia in their area.
Hollaback Edinburgh created this awesome volunteer sign up sheet, great for organizing and recruiting volunteers (and customizable).
Hollaback Ottawa held a Feminist Mixer! Meet-up at The Oak on Bank and Gloucester to eat, drink and mingle with other like-minded feminists in Ottawa on Tuesday. They also presented at a Coffee House event to discuss safety in the Vanier neighbourhood on Thursday and were featured on CTV. Check out her amazing video here!
HOLLA and out!
-The Hollaback! Team
Pride in the Park is a day we all should be able to enjoy.
Some out of state people showed up to prance around with signs and verbally attack Pride-goers.
One man, bible in hand decided me and my friend looked homosexual and proceeded to keep asking why we look as we do. “WHY ARE YOU DRESSED LIKE THAT?!? ARE YOU A HOMOSEXUAL?!?”
They harassed many people present and even brought a bullhorn. So you travel states just spread hate in the name of your god? Logical…
I just moved to Las Vegas about a month ago to pursue a performance career, I am a fire dancer.
I finished my shift at Paris casino (handing out voucher tickets for the Eiffel Tower experience), and was walking back to the MGM where I parked my car. For those who don’t know what the Vegas strip is like, 11am is no quiet time. Every part is brightly lit up and there are hundreds of people.
As I’m walking, this tall man comes right off my left side behind me and says, “Hey girl, how are you? What are you up to?”
I give him that “oh haha yeah you think I’m cute thanks I’m gonna keep walking bye now smile” and move away from him. I’m sure you ladies know which smile I’m talking about.
He says, “What, you afraid of guys? You afraid of me? You don’t wanna talk to me?”
And, in the same ‘aha yeah sorry I’m just on my way please excuse my rudeness’ fashion, I say, “Sorry, I just don’t talk to random guys I don’t know”. I’m doing that dismissive smiling thing because I’m conditioned to brush guys off gently, to not anger people, to make it seem like I’M the rude person for not responding.
He starts screaming at me at the top of his longs, chasing me for about a block as I try to get away from him as fast as I can.
“FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING GOD DAMN UGLY SLUT, FUCK YOU!!! FUCK YOU!! YOU FUCKING UGLY CUNT WHORE, I’M GONNA KILL YOU, YOU FUCKING UGLY GOD DAMN SLUT! FAGGOT! FAGGOT! YOU’RE GONNA GET RAPED, I HOPE SOMEONE RAPES YOUR FUCKING UGLY ASS, YOU FUCKING DISGUSTING SLUT! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FAGGOT, FUCK YOU!!!!!!”
….and so forth and it just got more angry and colorful from there.
As I’m getting away as fast as I can I’m shouting “Leave me alone! Get away from me!”
I dive off into a food court and hide as soon as I feel like I have enough distance, but I don’t know how far behind me he is because he was screaming so loud I couldn’t gauge the distance very well.
Thankfully there was a police officer in the food court and he was kind enough to call in a couple of security guards to escort me to my car.
I was shaking and crying and I felt ready to puke. Of course it was terrifying. I didn’t know if this was gonna be the one guy that instead of responding with the usual, “Whatever, you’re ugly anyway” that happens when I refuse public advances, he was going to be the one that had a knife or a gun. Because YES that happens to women and YES women have died when they refuse cat call advances.
This is the outfit I was wearing.
Yes I’m flipping off the camera in the photo. I’m angry. I’m angry that this person felt he could treat me this way for simply NOT WANTING TO TALK TO HIM. I’m angry that this is not an isolated incident, that women all over the world experience this every day.
I’m tired of being scared outside. I want to feel safe and free. HOLLABACK.
The other night, I was standing on my porch when a man stopped his car in front of my building. He said something that I couldn’t make out so I asked him to repeat it. When he said it the second time, it sounded like he said “Please tell me your middle name.” Confused, I asked “You want to know my middle name?” He shook his head and replied “No. Please tell me you are good in bed. Like, you ain’t got a boyfriend or nothin?” I told him that I do, in fact, have a boyfriend. He sat there for a few seconds and then sped off in his car.
I was traveling in Paris, making my way to the Eiffel Tower one bright afternoon. I was looking around, trying to make sure I was going the right way, and, as a result, I made eye contact with a man that was walking past me on the sidewalk.
A few minutes later, he had turned around and caught up to me. He followed me. I was nervous, trying to be polite yet distant while he tried to engage me in conversation. On the way back to the underground, he grabbed my hand and tried to kiss me.
I moved away from him, told him to stop, but he just laughed and kept walking beside me. We were in a part of the park that was virtually empty, so, even though I told him to leave, I didn’t want to stay where I was, with no one else around, until he did.
All the way back to the underground, he continued to try to touch me. I tried to push him away, but didn’t want to strike him. The last thing I wanted was for the situation to turn violent.
Finally, I made it back to one of the main stations, walked over to the police booth and stayed there until he left. Some people have said I should have expected it, traveling alone… Like the unacceptable behavior was mine. But what makes it okay for him to harass me, touch me, stalk me? Why does walking somewhere on my own in broad daylight mean he’s not to blame?