The following is typical of my daily commute. I travel by metro and foot between Petworth and Takoma.
I’m footsteps away from work and passing the bus stop at the intersection of Carroll and Laurel. As I walk by I notice a man sitting on the bench and wearing sunglasses is making all kinds of hissing and sucking noises, but don’t realize it’s directed at me until he says “mad fine” as I pass by. Normally I’d ignore him or even smile, wanting to avoid any possibly dangerous conflict with a stranger, but today it caught me off guard.
I’m hunched over carrying a heavy backpack, wearing a dirty old hoodie with my hood pulled over my head. The only thing that could have possibly been sexy were my legs, fully covered in denim and visible only from the front when he had already started making a scene.
Baffled, I pull my hood off to reveal my fully shaved head and just shrug at him, thinking, “what are you even talking about?”
The entire time I’m still walking towards work and suddenly I hear him yelling from behind me, “Enjoy being a girl!” He says it as if it were a command.
I go into work and open shop, but it ate at me all day. It’s sad that a passing rude remark can send me spiraling into an anxiety attack, but it just got to me and I guess that’s the point. I was relieved it didn’t escalate further: I waited and watched him board the bus, having become suddenly neurotic he would follow me into work.I was distracted for the rest of the day, regardless, thinking of his words over and over.
“Enjoy being a girl!” ?
It could mean so many things. I think to him it simply meant “You deserve this”.
It was 2am Friday night in Arcata Plaza. We were standing outside Don’s Donuts & my friend Z was talking as this guy walks passed her & says “damn you’re beautiful” while he stares at her butt. I noticed him ’cause of the drool dropping from his mouth. I said “what the fuck? This guy is staring at you like he’s going to devour you”. He went on some rant about me hating on my friend. I told him he was objectifying her. So he gets in a car & drives up to us & calls me (& my friends) dogs.
A man stalked me around the front of King Soopers when my car broke down around 3am. I was in the lobby calling anyone I could think of who was awake to try and help me, when he sat on the bench next to to where I was standing and started masturbating. After ignoring him and walking across the lobby, he followed me and asked if I would like to have sex in the bathroom. All of this was on camera – after complaining to night manager, no action taken. The man left after I faked a 911 call!
Walking up the 16th Street mall with my colleague, around ten in the morning, a group of three young men, probably early twenties, yelled “nice pussy” as we passed.
I was safely in my home feeling a bit hungry and decided to order takeout. I order takeout from my new favorite place and the guys there are usually friendly and take my order and chat for a bit. I was waiting for my order and it was taking a little longer than usual when a random number came across my phone screen. Apparently the driver got lost and wanted to ask someone for directions. I gave him the directions trying to be as polite as possible even though I was a bit irritated. As I finished giving the directions, the man thanked me and then proceeded on saying how “I sounded super sexy and young” like I was a phone sex operator! It appalled me and horrified me and the only thing I could do is hang up the phone and cry. I texted my best friend how I was feeling and she was understanding since the other day a man yelled at her to suck her cock. This makes me feel afraid to order food since these men have all of my personal and sensitive information. I do not need to feel scared or violated just to order food. It isn’t fair to me or the girls around me! Men everywhere need to realize that these unwanted advances are NOT CUTE and are not flirting; it is plain and simple street harassment. And this needs to be stopped!
I was walking home with my sister from school about six months ago with headphones in when my sister tapped my arm and told me to look at something to my side. I hadn’t heard because of the music in my ears, but at the bus stop was two guys and a girl.One of the guys was literally screaming at us telling us that we were ‘bitches’ ‘sluts’ and ‘pricks’.
I turned up my music and walked away. The girl just looked at us with a smirk on her face and the other guy did as well. Literally three minutes later, a car drove past with a girl leaving a leavers jacket (so she must have been a year 12) who yelled ‘sluts!’. Her mother was driving the car. The reason why my sister and I were abused was due to the school we attend, which is a rival to theirs. It is a private school, so we were wearing stockings, a blouse, a grey pinafore dress to our knees, a tie and a blazer.
I wish I had said something, especially so that I could have been a better example to my sister. We were 13 and 14 at the time.
You ask where. It’s happened to me in different cities and states meaning it’s global. I’m now 65 so this doesn’t happen anymore. But I remember cringing walking by guys at construction sites and putting up with the remarks. I remember a work place near my bus stop where the guys would come out and holler at me until I looked at them and then they’d laugh at me and go inside.
I believe they did it to any woman, didn’t matter, just because they could. So to stop it I learned to give them what they wanted and looked at them so it would stop. There was no sexual harassment in those days. But I always felt horrible after realizing now I gave up my power and let them control me.
I’ve been gripped with the “accidental” hand passing over my butt, been grabbed that way leaving a crowded dance floor. And the all time comment that pushes my go nuts button is “smile”.
In those days you sucked it up. Last time a man said that to me all the years of anger came pouring out. WTF for, why do you want me to smile, explain yourself, go and ask that man over there to smile…I’ll watch. He couldn’t getaway fast enough. I hope I stopped him from doing that but alas my daughter now gets the same crap. Anyway, felt good after that!
Two guys with a balcony and a megaphone host “17th and Pearl Live” in which they street harass anyone who walks by.
I live nearby and hear everything they say, including calling girls “sluts” and “whores” and telling pairs of men “hey you two guys should fuck”
This week, Hollaback! was featured in Threefold Online, Chatelaine, Metro News, Tribune 242, Model View Culture, Catie Wahwah’s blog, Think Progress, Transit Police Dept News Blog, DNA Info, Philadelphia Weekly, Bitch Media, Huffington Post, NOW’s Young Feminists and Allies (YFA), Witness Blog, The Baltimore Sun, and Harvard University’s Spotlight Network.
At the Mothership, Executive Director, Emily May, spoke on a panel at the Youth Tech Health Conference and today she is delivering a workshop on self-care in Vermont. In addition, Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, represented Hollaback! at a roundtable with Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and is participating in a data jam at the White House TODAY to address campus sexual assault and violence. And in case you missed it! we held our Anti-Street Harassment Rally on Saturday. Check out the Storify here!
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Bahamas hosted a “Protect Women & Children” event in which their newly formed Coalition to End Gender-based Violence & Discrimination invited community members to come out and support their recent action plan proposed to government officials on working to end gender-based violence. They were also were guests on “Jeffrey” on Guardian 969.FM hosted by Juan McCartney to talk about the Coalition to End Gender-Based Violence & Discrimination, the Hollaback! movement, and women’s rights in The Bahamas.
Hollaback! Baltimore is working with fellow badass activists Force for an upcoming “Make Your Own Quilt Square” event. Also, check out this awesome video they posted on celebrating their 3 years as an active Hollaback! site and their work to end street harassment.
Hollaback! Bosnia and Herzegovina held an event in Kriterion Sarajevo cinemas where volunteers performed scenes to analyze issues such as how addiction, street violence and harassment can affect teenagers.
Hollaback! Boston held their first chalk walk of 2014 at Copley Square. Check out their recap and photos here! They also spoke at their local Global Guardian press conference in support of safer public spaces for all and alternate solutions and reporting options beyond police involvement. Inspired by Global Guardian safe transit week and HollabackPhilly’s recent transit ads, they put together some quick flyers to help identify harassment and provide tips to safely intervene as a bystander.
Hollaback! Des Moines took part in the International Anti-Street Harassment Day of Action by attending a Call to Restore Justice 2 mile walk, hosting their own chalk walk, and participating in a Take Back the Night event. They also held another Monthly Meetup with community members!
Hollaback! Hamilton hosted a Kicking Street Harassment to the Curb night which included a short film screening, some hilariously epic improv antics by Moist Theatre, and a community speaker + discussion on what can be done to their surrounding community a more comfortable and harassment-free environment for everyone. Sounds like a great time!
Hollaback! Montreal‘s Catherine was interviewed on the Barry Morgan show at CJAD, about iHollaback.org and street harassement in Montreal. You can listen to the interview here. They also held an event called LAZY SATURDAY where they raised $105 in donations and produced a great mural of patriarchy-smashing art. They also had BOWLING and encouraged attendees to imagine every pin as an aspect of patriarchy or rape culture which they could DESTROY with their bowling ball…heck yea!!! Check out the photos here!
Hollaback! Philly held a Street Harassment Awareness Day event where they reclaimed public space in a variety of creative ways including double dutch, mural/chalking, street theater, music, dance, costumes, a soap box for storytelling and more. You can check out photos from the event here. Also! A bunch of awesome orgs held this Get Lucid! Activist Dance Party fundraiser for them. You can see photos from the event, as well as photos from the rest of their International Anti-Street Harassment Week, here.
Woohoo! Til next week-
HOLLA and out!
– The Hollaback! Team
Some of the people in my office have the job of calling people that they have worked with and seeing if they are using the programs that were recommended to them. Usually, these calls are pretty straightforward and include a brief questionnaire. What I have noticed is that the guy who sits in the cubicle next to me, whenever he is talking to a girl, and they say they have been following through with the programs, he responds with “good girl”. I cringe every time I hear it. It makes me feel as if he is talking to his children or his pets, and not human beings who are doing their best to be better versions of themselves. I woke up this morning thinking it was time I approached him about it. I couldn’t sit in silence any more. So when he walked in this morning,I told him that we needed to talk about something that made me uncomfortable. I explained the situation (shaking the whole time because I am horrible at confrontation), and he apologized. He said he didn’t realize that he was saying “good girl”. He said if he ever said it again, I need to stop him because he knows it isn’t right. He said he appreciated that I brought it up, and that if his children knew what he was saying, they would probably be upset too.
I couldn’t have asked for a better response. He understood where I was coming from and felt ashamed for how he had acted. I know that I am not the best at confronting street harassment, I usually just ignore it and walk away… but I like to think that if we stop people from using the same terminology in the work place, maybe it will have some sort of ripple effect when we walk out on the streets. In the very least, I can feel a little more comfortable in my cubicle.