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Leered at and catcalled while walking to the grocery store.
I live in Jakarta Indonesia, and I, like many others who live here, are considered ‘ExPats’. I was born in the states but I’ve traveled my entire life so I’m use to being considered an novelty. I got use to obscene catcalls and slurs thrown at me for being what most indonesians refer to as, ‘blue’ (pronounced boo-lay), which refers to the fact that even for a white person, I’m pretty pale.
But one night, on my friends birthday, we decided to go to a club near our house and school called club 777. I had never been to a club in Indonesia before, and it was late, my boyfriend was homesick, and a lot of my friends were really drunk from the bar we visited earlier, so even just walking into this place, I felt really uncomfortable.
But I shook off that feeling as we got our table, had a couple more drinks, and started to dance. It wasn’t long after that, when a friend of the birthday girl stumbled up to us and started to dance with the group. I had met him before, but it was brief and his english was as limited as my bahasa. He knew I had a boyfriend but as soon as he walked up to us, he moved behind me and tried to grind up against me. Because he was drunk, I moved away and tried to dance somewhere else, but he followed and grabbed at my hips and my waist trying to make me stay. I ended up turning around and telling him to fuck off, shoving him off me, but he grabbed my arm tightly in his hand and shook me saying that all he wanted was to dance. I shoved him off me again and I tried to go sit down in between two of my close guy friends, but when I did, he grabbed my upper arm so hard my shoulder popped and I was dragged out of my seat.
The guys I was with made him leave our area and had one of the bouncers kick him out for disorderly conduct, but after the incident, and after the bruise from how tight his grip was, developed, he still tried to talk to me the following weekend. I heard from one of my friends that still keeps in contact with him, that all he wanted to say, was that he was sorry. Ha. Yeah, right.
I was at a local grocery store a few years ago and a 30-40 year old man got behind me in the check out line. He was talking on his cellphone and then apologized to me for being rude and stated that he was French. I said it was fine and he kept making small talk and I was being polite. He said he worked at GMU, the school I was trying to get admitted into, and asked if I would give him my phone number. Not getting terribly creepy vibes (yet) but still wanting to be safe I gave him my email, thinking that he would be a useful connection. But soon after this he started emailing very often, probably weekly for a solid month or two, inviting me to coffee and tennis and I never responded, because at that point I was definitely creeped out. He eventually gave up. Flash-forward to a couple of years later and I’m at another grocery store and I am in a random aisle when I see the SAME MAN on his cell phone and speaking French (really obvious french words: merci vous cous, etc. over and over again. It was pretty obvious no one was on the other line). Every aisle I turned down he would show up and I kept trying to randomize to avoid him because he would get walk past me staring and trying to get my attention. I got what I needed and went to the checkout counter where he got in line behind me still repeating French on his cell. Then he started to apologize to me for being on the phone and telling me that he was being rude and he was sorry and that he was French. SAME FUCKING CONVERSATION. And over two years after the first encounter. I again said it was fine but made no small talk and high tailed it the hell out of there hoping he wouldn’t remember that he had pulled this shit on me previously and that he actually had my email. And this same fucker came up to me about a month or two ago, this time in a local store. Same routine: incoherent French on his cell home, following me around aisles and trying to apologize for being rude on his phone as a way of initiating conversation. It is really uncomfortable and he invades your space and is extremely persistent. So for anyone who lives in the DC or NoVa area if you encounter this man, who appears to use this ploy at grocery stores around the area regularly, please involve the store security immediately. I know I will if I ever have the misfortune of running into him again.
While I was biking to work a man in a nice car pulled up next to me and said “hey, beautiful.” He looked like the man who raped me and I’ve spent all day wondering if he’s found me again.
It’s time for our weekly update!
Here at the mothership, Emily, Debjani, and board member Kathleen Adams attended a Cause/effective seminar and were visited by one of Hollaback!’s rad funders, Voqal! Final preparations for HOLLA::Revolution continue… remember that you can RSVP here!
Hollaback!’s own Debjani Roy is featured in a podcast about Hollaback!’s Employer Guide! Make sure you check it out!
Hollaback! Pathankot announces that they will be doing a chalk walk soon! Check back to their website for updates
Hollaback! Edinburgh‘s Emily Martin and Dominic Hinde presented at the Scottish Parliament!
During my first year of graduate school, I was in charge of a residence hall as part of my graduate assistantship. Because of my position, I was expected to be helpful and friendly to the residents, and to be readily available as I lived in the dorm. It was about 1:30 in the morning, and there was a knock at my door. I open it to find a male resident standing there. He immediately began to hit on me, first saying how hot I looked in my pajamas (sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt). I told him it was inappropriate, so he then started asking asking if I’d go out to a party with him. When I said no, he then repeatedly asked me for my phone number. I told him I was not going to give him my number, and then he started to try to push his way into my room. I slammed the door in his face, and he started yelling through the door calling me a bitch. I called campus police. By the time they showed up, he was gone. They told me to not call back unless he showed signs of physical violence.
After this interaction, he started to follow me around. He didn’t live on my floor, but he would always be out in the common area of my floor when I would leave my room. He would come down and just stare at me while sitting in the main lobby during my office hours. It got to the point that the male RAs in my building would stick around during my office hours as well because they knew how scared I was of him. He also began doing the same thing he was to me to my female RAs, and the other girls in the building. It got to the point that no girl in the building would go anywhere by themselves, even to do laundry. Because he was not being physically violent towards any of us, though, campus police wouldn’t do anything.
After two weeks of this, I couldn’t take it any more. I was playing pool with a few people, and he was getting a little too close to me. I turned around and hit him in the face with the pool stick I was holding. His nose started to bleed. He got angry, and I told him that if he did any of what he had been doing again, he’d get a lot worse. He left me, and all the other girls in my building alone after that.
I knew that working in India as a single, light-skinned woman who did not speak a word of any Indian languages would not be a walk in the park. However, I was not expecting the onslaught and veritable inundation of street harassment. I live in Goa, which is known to be one of India’s most liberal, progressive provinces. But stepping outside my home near my job, I would never know it.
At first, I thought the constant calls of “Hello, beautiful!” and “Be my girlfriend!”or “Give me your number!” were just harmless fun, trying to grab the attention of an obvious tourist. I had a rude awakening of that when a man outside my apartment complex told me he loved me. I laughed it off as he reached out to shake my hand. When I gave it to him to shake, he wouldn’t let go, and took my hand and attempted to shove it down his pants. I managed to get away and ran back into my apartment, where my roommate, a Ghanian man, was as shocked about the ordeal as I was.
That’s another way we’ve been harassed here in Goa. As we’re living together (we’re colleagues and work at the same NGO), my Ghanian roommate and I go out to eat rather frequently. I’ve grown to accept that people will stare at the two of us when we’re together or when we’re alone, but people will also say very racist things to the both of us and constantly take pictures of us, with or without our consent. Again, at first I didn’t mind this and attributed it to the fact that we were a novelty. However, as people continued to treat us like we were some toy to be played with, I became a little less happy with the situation. This experience was epitomized by one night when my roommate and I went out to a club. People were constantly asking for our pictures, and finally, wanting to have a good night and not pose for photos the whole time, we started saying no. Instead of accepting that answer, locals would grab us by the arm, leg, and (I can’t say they did this to him, but they definitely did it to me) butt, and drag us into pictures and dances. Men kept taking my drinks from me, drinking out of them, and throwing them on the floor. I started to flip off the camera or do the “WoW” symbol with my face every time they forced me into pictures with them unwillingly, so if you see any of those on the internet, know that I didn’t want them taken and those people are not my friends – in fact, from the way they treated us, I sort of doubt that they considered my roommate and I as particularly human. After about two hours of being paraded around as some sort of carnival freaks merely because of the color of our skin, a security guard noticed and escorted US out, saying we were causing too much of a stir – doing nothing about the others. All of this happened at the biggest (and perhaps most touristy) club in Baga – Tito’s Beach Club.
In the town that I live, I’ve been followed down streets, photographed without my consent, chased after, grabbed, and groped. Men have tried to pay me for sex constantly, offering 400 rupees (about $8) if I’ll have sex with them, and not relenting until I start yelling. In perhaps what was the scariest instance while I’ve been here, I took a wrong turn on the way back from work. I’d been working late, so it was dark, and I was alone. First, a security guard tried to force me to come into an apartment complex, saying that it was where I lived. Because I am not an idiot, I knew was not mine. Luckily enough, a cab was nearby and I hopped inside. My fears were not quelled as the driver took me on some roundabout, clearly incorrect way of getting to the place that I was going. As I knew where we were and were going into a much less populated area, I demanded he let me out of the car. He wouldn’t, but when I opened my window and made a scene he started to drive directly towards my apartment. There, he wouldn’t let me out of the cab, insisting we go get coffee or that he let me inside. I wouldn’t do it, and was struggling to find the lock for the door when the security guard from my apartment complex came over and asked what was happening. After a conversation with the cabbie in the local language, the cabbie demanded my phone number and he said he would leave, if I would go to get coffee with him tomorrow. I didn’t see that I had any choice, so I gave him my number. Since then, he has called or texted me saying he loves me every single day, trying to meet up. It’s been 2 weeks. I’ve blocked his number, but he keeps calling on friends’ phones or getting friends to call me and ask me if I’m still in Goa. At this point, since he knows where I live, I’m actually pretty worried he’s going to show up outside my apartment. I really wish I’d gotten his license plate.
I knew that working in India as a white female wouldn’t be easy. But really, it would be a breeze if the harassment would stop.
I was sitting in a bakery eating and an old man from the next table started talking to me. I was being polite but the conversation wasn’t ending. He eventually got up and stood close to me and my table. I was uncomfortable but I hadn’t been on my own for very long so I wasn’t sure how to respond. He abruptly grabbed my face and tried to kiss me. I pulled away and he continued talking to me as if he’d done nothing! He eventually left and I was left to sit in shock.
I have too many stories of this nature but I will tell you the most recent. I get out of work at 9pm twice a week. I have a bus pass from school but it expires during the summer. To save $, I walk as its only a half hour from work to home. I was on my cell and 6 young men walk past me. A few of them start catcalling me. I just keep my eyes forward and ignore them. They keep walking their direction but call me “a bitch with a attitude.”
I was leaving my bank the other day and a man standing outside yelled “Hey pretty lady!” I ignored him and started to walk away, he said “Oh, no love? How about a kiss then?” I said “Fuck no,” and turned around to walk away. I got two steps when he screamed “BITCH!” The sidewalk was full of people, most of whom stopped to stare at the man, so I turned around and yelled back “If telling sexist assholes like you to fuck off because you think you can make comments about how I look makes me a bitch, then you bet I’m a huge fucking bitch!” The man obviously didn’t have the brain power to respond and just stood there, and three women standing nearby clapped. Serves him right.