Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
It seems unreal but as a woman your day really does revolve around where can I go, what can I wear, can I run in these if I have too, look down don’t make eye contact, always be prepared to run, keep your head on the swivel. It feels like 70′s sometimes! I had gone away to college and in my few years there I’d been chased, followed, groped, sexually harassed and intimidated and I was at the end of my rope. I was young and didn’t understand so I began to blame myself. What am I doing, what am I wearing, how am presenting myself to make men think they can treat me this way? In your own mind you know you’re a person, a human being, you are your own but as a woman you’re constantly being told the contrary.
A few weeks ago a friend’s girlfriend was savagely knocked unconscious and raped on the side walk on her way home from class. That day my friend and I were biking to our school building when a guy screams out as us ‘Bitch I got something for you!’ and whips his penis out as us. We looked away and biked faster, the rapist that attacked my friend’s girlfriend was never found. When class ended I was headed home alone and I see this guy coming up to me, at first I look down trying not to catch his attention but still I hear him say ‘Ooohh shit..’ and he starts coming up to me making whispering noises. I remembered earlier that day and I remembered my friend’s girlfriend and I get angry and I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the constant fear and look up right in his face as he gets closer to me. ‘Look, I don’t deserve this! I’m just trying to get home like everybody else and I have a right to do that.’
He gets kind of startled like he was shocked I could actually speak, like you would if your shoe rack suddenly yelled at you for putting your shoes on it. ‘Don’t deserve what?’ he starts looking confused and cautious. ‘I don’t deserve this! This is sexual harassment, I don’t deserve you running up on me when I’m just trying to get home!’ He gets this weird look on his face at the word ‘sexual harassment’ and actually has the nerve to sound righteous, ‘How do you know I was hollering at you?’ I look around stunned. ‘We’re the only two people here! You have a mother, you might have a sister, would you really want someone running up on them when they’re all by themselves talking all threateningly to them like this?’ He throws the righteous game out the window when he’s called out and just goes straight to anger.
He sticks his chest out like he’s getting ready to hit me and gets even closer, I stand my ground and look straight back, I’m not running anymore if he beats me up he beats me up. ‘Bitch you wouldn’t get it if you weren’t advertising! You advertising!’ He might as well have hit me for how it felt. I didn’t really have a reply because I wasn’t advertising anything, whatever he actually meant by advertising but I had an idea. That’s when it all made sense, the surprise when I had the audacity to speak, the righteousness when I dared to spurn his threatening advances and the anger when I continued to assert myself. It had nothing to do with what I was wearing, what I was doing, how I looked, or me at all.
Because I wasn’t a person. I was a hole, an object, a shoe rack with no vocal chords, no face, no wants, no right to itself. I was a shoe rack and how dare I object to having shoes placed on me. Is that not why I was created? Is that not my singular purpose in life? The law doesn’t apply to shoe racks, what rights does a pile of wood and rubber have? There was nothing I could say to him, because where I was arguing about my right to be treated as an equal and he was arguing the legitimacy of my very humanity. I biked home as fast as I could and still heard him yelling after me ‘You adverting! You advertising!’ I got home, shut my self in my room, and sobbed for the rest of the day. I wasn’t a person, I wasn’t a survivor or a victim, I was just a woman and that’s practically nothing. I had thought maybe the sexually harassment stemmed from men not knowing women find it threatening and demeaning. Maybe if I stood my ground and let them know I hated it, maybe the surprise and shame would stop it. It never really occurred to me that they simply don’t care if we hate it because they don’t even think about it.
Another instance, a few years later I was walking down the crowded main street of down town San Diego in the afternoon. Four men are walking towards me on the side walk, I look down and side step but the biggest one follows me. I’m about to just run when he grabs me by the arm and pulls me into him. I yell ‘NO!’ and ‘STOP!’ and trying to get away but his friends just laugh and he starts grinding his groin into me in broad daylight in the middle of a busy sidewalk. People actually have to walk around us as I’m struggling. No one does anything, they just look down and keep walking and at last I’m able to shove my way out of his grip. He and his friends keep laughing and making kissing noises and cat calls. I start crying on the street on no one stops. It was witnessed by everybody, men, women, police, children. It just didn’t matter. Its the worst feeling in the world of something to seem so devastating to you but matter so incredibly little to everybody else. If it doesn’t matter to anyone then does it really even matter at all? It matters. It means everything! I want every woman and girl to know that we deserve better! We deserve the right to safety, life, happiness.
We deserve more than to live our lives on the perpetual Rape Clock! Its up to us to demand more and demand more for those that aren’t able to do it themselves yet. It’s not about hating men or villainizing men because the people we want better for are the daughters, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives of men. No father should constantly have to tell his daughter to be safe every time she leaves the house and worry until she comes back because this shouldn’t be a world where the contrary would cross his mind. As women we need to support each other because we all know what it was like to be beaten down and dehumanized and left to deal with the aftermath all alone. I also want to thank HollaBack for making it easier for us to reach out to each other and share out stories and our support.
We were standing in Times Square when we had lost our friend. We decided to stay where we were in hopes she would see us. So we were standing there trying to find her when a guy in Spiderman costume came up to us. He asked us if we needed help and we said no. He kept coming closer as we kept trying to telling to go away. He kept going on about how he could help us. As I held my bag closer to me, I had never felt so scared for my life.
Just for context, I’m a trans woman, socially transitioned but very early in medical transition. Although I don’t like the term, I ‘pass’ some of the time, but have tended to get the most harassment/unpleasant comments on public transport, where I’m stuck in close proximity with a group of other people for a while. I’ve had a few incidents this year – several unpleasant comments, and one case where I got followed off the train by someone – but this is the first incident that really shook me.
I was sitting on a central line train to Bank at around 6:50pm, when a group of three men got on next to me – one sat down next to me, while the others stood around him. At first, they were just snickering among themselves, and I didn’t really notice what they were talking about – I’ve felt safest by simply ignoring people in the past, and so generally just listen to a story or music on my headphones. After a while, though, they began to talk more loudly, pointing at me, making ‘jerking off’ motions, and leering at me. I couldn’t get the gist of what they were saying – I think they were speaking in Italian? – but I got a strong impression from their body language and from little I understood that they were making mocking/sexualised remarks against me. I hope that mentioning this is in line with Hollaback’s anti-discrimination policy – I appreciate why this exists, but think this is worth mentioning because it helps explain why I didn’t want to react to what they were doing at this stage, either in terms of confronting them or trying to move down the crowded train – I was scared of confronting them in any case, and, if they hadn’t been discussing me, I’d have felt really embarrassed and self conscious, and perhaps would have caused them to actually start harassing me. I’m a fairly small person, and react quite badly to this kind of physical situation, and so continued to pretend it wasn’t happening.
After this had gone on for a few minutes, they began to talk directly to me (in English), asking me ‘what’s under your skirt’ and telling me to ‘go home with them, and they’d show me a good time’. I didn’t respond or acknowledge them, and had my headphones on to try to block them out, but rather than losing interest, they got a bit more aggressive, asking if I was a ‘perv’ and a ‘ladyguy’ – still trying to proposition me, but in a more demeaning and unpleasant manner. I felt uncomfortable and unsafe at this point, because I was stuck next to them by the rush hour crowd, two of them were standing over me, and none of the other passengers had given any impression that they had heard anything the matter. Finally, the train arrived at Bank, where I got off and they stayed on the train, but as I stood up, one of the two standing guys grabbed and squeezed my crotch area through my skirt. Especially in light of their earlier comments, this made me feel really uncomfortable – I was really worried by the way they kept alternating between sexual harassment and transphobia – but was also really bad for my dysphoria, because I feel really awful about my genitalia and don’t want strangers (or anyone for that matter) grabbing/outing me.
This happened two weeks ago (16/7/14), and I’ve been mulling over whether or not I wanted to do anything about this. On the one hand, it was really upsetting, and I want to do something about it – this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but it’s been the first time someone’s actually tried to physically rather than verbally harass me – but on the other, the strain of transitioning hasn’t really left me with many emotional resources to pursue this. Having to jump through a million hope with gatekeepers etc., going out every day in a body I hate being read by most people as a ‘confused weirdo’ (at best) has really exhausted me, and I don’t want to have to go through all the strain of pushing BTP to do much about it.
Man approached me late at night, invading my personal space and calling me “baby,”
Man leered at me as I walked home and made comments about my breasts.
One walk. Four blocks. Three separate incidences of street harassment by three separate “men.”
1. Smile for me, Baby
2. Hmmm hmmm and other moaning noises
3. Man told me to smile at him so he can give me “something to stick in my mouth”
I wanted to join a charity 5 mile walk on a Saturday at 10:30am. But I worked night shift the night before. After talking to the charity I decided that I would get out of work at 7:30am, drive home and walk as soon as I got home. I made it into town and a car carrying two young men. When they drove by the one hollered ” Cheese hog! “. I was overweight at the time. They had no idea that I was walking for charity alone after working a twelve hour night shift as a nurse. I was humiliated.
First let me say I have a boyfriend whom I love. The attention he gives me is pure and kind and he’s wonderful. However, attention from anyone but him makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and dirty.
The other day, I was biking home from my job and was almost home when a car full of guys slows down as it drives past me. They start to call out to me and whistle and hollar out things like “hottie! Over here!” They were waving me over with their arms. I was so confused because I didn’t understand why they thought that would work! I got home not long after and I couldn’t get out of my head feelings of guilt and sadness. I felt dirty and like I was a slut… Even though I hadn’t done anything wrong! I’m sick of feeling like an object males think they can pick up and use.
I left my house in Leon, Nicaragua at 6pm. At 6pm and 5 secs, 2 guys rode by on a bike (same bike, one on the handle bars). 1 of the guys started staring at me moving his tongue around his hand like he was giving oral sex. I firmly & disapprovingly made eye contact as I kept walking. I wish I could have pushed them off their bike, but it probably wouldn’t have been safe or changed anything. How cowardly people are when they can ride away quickly. And how grossly violating. Sad, sad men.
At the mothership, Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, spoke at a press conference about the harassment of women and LGBT folks on public transit.
We would like to say THANK YOU to our Summer Interns from the Moxie Project at Duke Engage. Thanks, Jessica and Rebecca for all of your hard work in keeping the movement going!
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Boston testified at the Legislative hearing for the Safe Access Bill, which works to reinstate a buffer zone that ensures everyone can access reproductive healthcare safely, which ended up being passed! They also co-sponsored the Supreme Rally in support of the bill, and hosted their summer Take Back The Bar event which was great!
Hollaback! Berlin’s site leader Julie Brilling will be hosting a talk later today, called Awesome Comebacks to Street Harassment. So if you’re in the area, make sure to check it out! Also, Julie Brilling and was featured in the magazine, Lisa, along with Hollaback for their “Women of the Week” section. Keep up the great work Julie!
Hollaback! Philly will be taking over Comic Con! They will be doing a safety audit this weekend along with interviewing cosplayers taking
signatures on their petition. Hollaback! Philly was also featured in the LA Times. Their comic con harassment piece was the comic con cover story for opening day. Awesome indeed!
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio hosted 5 workshops at Athens Rock Camp for Girls, including one on media literacy, two on street harassment and bystander intervention, and two on assertive communication and self defense, for 25 girls ages 12-18. They also did did a one hour training on Hollaback! and bystander intervention for 10 folks getting trained to run the crisis line for Ohio University Survivor Advocacy’s Outreach Program for Meigs, Athens, and Perry Counties! Great work, guys!
Hollaback! Melbourne participated in the Wicked Camper Thingy protest, where they protested a company that supplies travellers with vans that has ridiculous sexist, homophobic and racist slogans on them from Queensland. Great work!
Contiune the great work HOLLAs! Til next time-
HOLLA and out!
-The Hollaback! Team