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
I was walking home from school. As I was walking past a church parking lot that was a block from my house a guy pulls in the lot and says “Hey Beautiful.” I look over and walk away with stern body language. As I was walking away and I heard him shouting things at me. Only to make out ” Come here ,I got the money .” He was probably trying to imply that I was a prostitute. I was dressed in normal school clothes, carrying a binder. Why are men so sick? I’m scared to walk home now.
In order to get home I have to walk across a pedestrian bridge and then walk through a local park in my town. I do this walk multiple times a day. Going to and from school, work, and anything else that might get me out of the house. Almost everyday I get catcalled at. My most recent incident: Around midnight I was coming home from an SF Giants baseball game and I had to drop off my rental car then walk home. I braced myself with my pepper spray and wrapped a huge blanket around my shoulders hoping to prevent anyone from talking to me. Some guy in his twenties comes up to me and says, “What’s up beautiful?” I didn’t reply. “A little cold there?” I just kept walking and ignored him. But him and other people who have called out to me when I am walking alone make me so angry. Do they not realize how scared they are making me? Is it a power trip for them? Is it funny for them? I am so afraid of walking to and from my house even during the day. If a man is walking up behind me I immediately tense up and grab my pepper spray, no matter the time of day. I’m angry that the most I can do is ignore them for fear of them doing something worse. I’m angry that they make me so powerless with just a couple words. I hate feeling this way.
Again at the 500. Block of Main Street. Group of older males loitering- as I passed one said “I’ve been watching you a long time.”
Last Thursday night I was waiting at the bus exchange at Government Square in Cincinnati. A red sports car pulled up to the stop light right by the bus stop. A man in the back seat opened the door and gestured to me and the young woman sitting next to me to get in the car. He never said anything, just gestured. We both ignored him.
In the midst of this #yesallwomen trend I have been following, I get off the bus already feeling vulnerable and nervous. Not even thirty seconds after getting off the bus a man walks towards me, and fairly loudly mumbles “hey girl, I was wonderin’ if you was single.” I ignored him and kept walking to the MFL, and he kept whispering at me “girl. hey girl. i’m tryna talk to you.”
I do not know how to properly respond to this while feeling safe.
I was walking to work this morning, when I saw a guy sitting on a stoop smoking a cigarette watching me walk in his direction. I live and work in the city so I didn’t think anything of it, and continued walking like a normal person. As I got closer to him and was about to pass, he started whistling at me. So, without hesitation, I let out my best obnoxious bird call, “CAW-CAW!! CAW-CAW!!” to give him a taste of his own medicine. I doubt he’ll ever whistle at me again.
I have infinite experiences of verbal and physical street harassment with threatening, sexual undertones- but these occasions stood out to me.
I was at a festival with a group of my friends, the age demographic predominantly being about 16-21. At one point, as my friends were all in a tent, i lingered directly outside- packing some things in to my bag before i joined them. I was literally centimetres away from my group when a hulking man in his mid 30′s- evidently stronger, bigger, and able to over power me if he wanted- entered my personal space and began saying “your friends have all left you, they told me to come and get you- come to our tent”. Not only was this man clearly to old for the age demographic, which in itself made me feel uncomfortable, but he was actually lying to me in an attempt to get me to come to his tent. He had seen me in a vulnerable position, on my own, and taken the opportunity to try and deceive me into leaving with him. I felt genuinely threatened, as at that moment, it could have been possible for him to forcibly take me without anyone initially knowing or able to locate me. Considering the reports of rape at this particular festival, and his sleazy remarks towards me- it comes as no shock that i felt completely intimidated.
At this same festival, i woke up in the morning to find two men, both considerably older than me, sitting in the entrance to our tent (which they must have opened themselves). One of the men was groping my thighs and stroking my legs in a sexually threatening way- saying “i’d love to wake up to these legs”. Feeling utterly repelled, i responded with a look of clear disgust and told him to ‘get off’. He had the audacity to look shocked and offended at my remark, saying “oooohhhh she didn’t like THAT!!” and asking me if i was a lesbian. I don’t know how you are supposed to respond when you wake up to a complete stranger touching you *WHILE YOU SLEEP* without you even vaguely hinting towards wanting any attention.
In the next situation i am about to outline, i didn’t feel threatened, but i think it is a horrific demonstration of how social conditioning from acts as a catalyst for the objectification and street harassment of women. I was walking home from sixth form, when a group of boys ranging from the ages of about 9-10, shouted sexual remarks at me- outlining what they were ‘going to do to me’. Shocking. These are CHILDREN. Evidently then, they did not actually intend or even desire what they shouted at me. Clearly then, these kids have watched this behaviour in older men and copied it, influenced by the pervasive objectification of women as ‘things to hurl abuse at’- not fully understanding the meaning of their behaviour. It’s a vicious cycle- the observable harassment of women permeating the minds of young boys and presenting itself as acceptable.
My Dad explained to me that he did not realise or comprehend the impact of ‘normal’ street harassment towards women, until he was approached in exactly the same way by a group of gay men- all bigger than him- and he was put in the vulnerable situation that women find themselves in every day. Unwanted sexual advances like this are NOT compliments. They are THREATENING, INTIMIDATING and DEGRADING.
I come from Honduras, and now I am living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It was the first day of college when we had the second class of the first day. Then a guy who later on wanted to date me, said that the first thing he saw of me, was that i was pretty, and he liked my body. That was the very only reason why he wanted to get to know me.
Later on when I heard that i was like how dare you? You saw me as an object you didn’t even ask my name first, or wanted to get to know who I am as person before you already decided you wanted to date me because of my body?
At the Mothership, Deputy Director Debjani Roy spoke on a panel along with Girls for Gender Equity on WFUV 90.7 – pictured above. The show will be aired tomorrow morning!
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio held four 1.5 hr workshops on bystander intervention, healthy masculinity, and self defense for women for 39 9th and 10th graders at Trimble High School.
Hollaback! Boston held a GLOBAL tweet chat about #bikeSH. Panelists included Hollaback! Ottawa, Hollaback! Houston, Women Bike, Bikes Not Bombs, Collective Action for Safe Spaces, Stop Street Harassment, Mountain 2 Mountain, Hollaback L A, and more! Check out the Storify here
Hollaback! Ottawa was interviewed on CKNW Morning News with Philip Till regarding sexual assault & public education. Listen to the recording here! They also tabled at St-Francis Xavier Catholic School’s Mental Health Fair.
AND HOLLA::REVOLUTION IS NEXT WEEK!!! Will you be there? Buy your ticket today!!
Til next time-
HOLLA and out!
- The Hollaback! Team
Waiting for the bus at Gov’t Square. Some guy in a red sports car stops at the light, opens the door, and tells me (and/or the young woman sitting next to me) to get in. We both ignore him.