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My new years resolution is not taking this crap anymore, so I am posting again because this week has been full of harassment.
Thursday June 6th, 2013
A guy followed me for three blocks. I had my phone out and was violently texting people my location, and had my pepperspray in hand. I walked as fast as I could. Finally, I came to a busy intersection and ran across the street. Since there was some distance between us I screamed at him. I was pretty furious at this point. “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT!? ARE YOU A FUCKING RAPIST MUGGER OR SOMETHING!? IF MY ROOMMATE DOESN’T HEAR FROM ME IN TEN MINUTES HE’S CALLING THE COPS! WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME!?” He was really embarrassed. “I just thought you were really pretty and wanted your number…” I didn’t let him finish before I flipped out again. “FUCK YOU FUCKING FUCK! FUCK NO YOU FUCKING CREEP! GO THE FUCK AWAY!” I just screamed at him until he rounded the corner.
Saturday June 8th, 2013On the way back from work I got harassed by 3 different men in cars. As I was crossing the street one guy demanded to see my breasts. I screamed at him and gave him the finger and kept walking. He called me an “ugly slut,” and all sorts of other names. I really wish I had kicked the bumper of their car in, or walked up behind it and taken a photo of the license plate to post here. Considering that he was in a car full of other men who did nothing to stop him, they deserved to have their bumper kicked in. The next person who harassed me was a college aged guy with glasses with the glass punched out who was stoned out of his mind and sitting in the back seat of a car. He yelled that I was sexy, and I kept moving still pissed off from the previous car. The third car was the scariest, a guy pulled up near me and followed me for a block asking for my number. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I picked up my phone and acted like I was going to call the cops. Once again, pissed that I didn’t get the license plate number.
I was walking down Jordan, one of the most traversed roads in my town, and this old beat-up truck pulled over and slowed to keep pace with me. The guy in the truck rolled down his window and let out a long, loud wolf-whistle, eyebrows waggling, the whole shebang. I decided if they were going to try to catch my attention like you would a dog’s, I would respond in the only appropriate way: I barked. The idiot’s eyes went wide, shocked and offended. He sped up and drove off, middle finger out the window.
There is a major intersection between my apartment and the nearest grocery store. Almost every time I walk there, at least one man harasses me. Usually it’s some guy telling me to smile or calling me “babe” or “sexy.” No amount of rolling my eyes or talking on the phone deters them. But every now and then a guy will try to get me into his car. This terrifies me, especially as I’m 5’2″ and 115lb – pepper spray and self defense could only get me so far against a determined, beefy man and his car.
I was on light rail with my bike, and a tall 30-something drunk (reeking of booze) guy came up to me: “you is so motha fuckin cute. yo eyes go. they goooooo” I said thanks and looked away. I was wearing headphones, I hoped he would get the memo. He then proceeded to poke my stomach “oh I thought you was fat you just wearin a big shirt” I told him not to touch me and continued looking the other way, (with an incredibly annoyed face on) He then grabs a lock of my hair and tells me I look like a porn star. I backed up and was caught between my bike, someone else’s bike, and the stairs to the car door. He was at least a foot and a half taller than me. He continued to stare at me and I told him to please leave me alone. He started rambling slurs and curse words and moved up the train. I noticed him heckling some girls that had just got on after the high school. The train car was full of witnesses, older, bigger people who could have said something to him when he touched me and grabbed my hair but no one did.
VA-bound yellow line at about 1:15am Sunday: a slightly tall male of average build in his mid-30s followed my fiance and me onto the metro. He stared at me on his way onto the car, sat down across from us, and continued to stare for about 15 min. Then, he got up, while staring, and sat closer to us, just across the aisle. He turned toward us and continued to stare until we ran off the metro to switch cars.
This excerpt is taken from Vitamin W, with permission.
Once I became a man, I was finally legally married. A few years earlier, while still a woman, I had married my wife, but the backward state where we live didn’t recognize our union. Once my name was changed from Mary to Mark, we were legally man and wife. Well, a trans man and a lesbian wife. Nobody checks your chromosones.
That was the first indication that many things were going to get better for me. Better on the street, at school, on the job or even at the grocery store; life is way easier when you’re perceived as a seemingly straight man.
As a man you’re:
ALLOWED TO WALK WITHOUT CAT CALLS
As a butch lesbian, I’d get harassed. I was the ubiquitous coffee house dyke and had to walk just three blocks to my job, but I had to lace keys through my knuckles, I’d get three guys in shitty cars offering to give me the ride of my life as I walked to work.
Not having those interactions anymore is so relaxing. The ability to walk around in this world without fear of harassment or violence is something I am fully aware is an enormous privilege. I knew this was part of the journey, but I had no idea how much stress would be alleviated by not having to be a woman out and about in the world.
For the full article, click here.
It’s time for a REVOLUTION!
As many of you know, Hollaback! is holding the FIRST EVER international conference on street harassment–Holla::REVOLUTION! Featuring speakers, activists, and performers! Put the date on your calendar: JULY 25th @ New York University! Get more info & your ticket here!
In other news…
We’ve had quite the eventful week here at the mothership!
Hollaback! interviewed New York writer, artist, and creative trailblazer Gina Tron! Gina is the designer behind Hollaback’s upcoming t-shirt design. Find out what bought her to Hollaback! and what she has to say about street harassment.
We met with members of Vitamin Women and H&M to discuss potential partnerships, and had a long talk with Morgan-Stanley. They are doing some great pro-bono consulting with us on our work at college campuses.
Emily spoke at Feminist Summer Camp, and we had our June HOLLAhappy hour! It was a blast — and we made some incredible signs in preparation for PRIDE.
The home office is also saying farewell to our Communications Intern, Julia Daye. Thank you Julia for all of your hard work! You will be missed! Hollaback! is also welcoming two new interns to our New York City office–Sarah Scriven and Maya Flippen.
In the final week of our Raise For Women challenge, former Hollaback! Intern Lindsey published her article in the Huffington Post! The piece, titled “Alcohol, Street Harassment and Fault: A Bartender’s Dilemma,” is a candid discussion of thought-provoking contradictions and raises important questions regarding everyday violence and harassment. Definitely a must read. Hollaback’s new Employer Guide was covered in New York Nonprofit Press!
Also, Emily’s Interview with GirlTank was a big hit! Check it out here:
And here’s what happened around the world:
Hollaback! Edinburgh will be presenting at parliament on Next Generation Feminism on June 14! Also, Ellie just published a great piece on the site on why its so important to speak up, whether you yourself are the target of harassment or a bystander to it.
Hollaback! Ottawa‘s Julie Lalonde was cited in a Halifax Metro News article regarding the transit commission’s desire to meet with different activist organizations to make their transit systems safer. Way to go Julie and the Hollaback! team!
Hollaback! Boston has been up to a lot! On June 5th, they teamed up for a Spitfire event discussing street harassment. Check out the great pictures of the event on their site! On June 8th, Boston hollas will be marching in the Boston Pride Parade! In this week’s edition of Boston’s “Introducing” series, hollas interview Kendall, a Bostonian yogi and nutrition guru. Finally, check out Kayla’s witty and honest piece, “I’ll smile when you stop telling me to.”
Hollaback! Wellington welcomes a brand new site manager to their team! Welcome to the Hollaback! family, Tom!
Thank you for another incredible week! Keep up the inspiration!
Cal Anderson park. Capitol Hill, Seattle. 7pm June 2013.
So, as I’m walking to the bus stop just about a block away I take a detour through the park. 7 guys standing together start whistling. As I keep walking & look straight ahead, I then hear “hey you girl.” Then “I like your top.” I ended up turning around, flipping them off & yelling “stop!”
I’m not sure if that was the best way to go about it, but in the moment of being so disgusted & pissed it was the first thing I could think of.
Gina Tron is the brain behind Hollaback’s new t-shirt design. She is an editor for LADYGUNN Magazine and has contributed to VICE, BULLETT, among other publications. She is the creative director for Williamsburg Fashion Weekend and curates the Brooklyn boutique for Runway Passport. www.ginatronic.com
What made you get involved with Hollaback?
Hollaback is such a great movement, and one that I feel I can stand behind 100%. I am against any harassment or action that demeans and objectifies people. I was introduced to Hollaback through Runway Passport who I curate local clothing for. I am also Creative Director at Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, which is part of a fashion movement that aims to bring manufacturing back to New York. The shirts I made for Hollaback are 100% made in the USA.
What was the inspiration for the t-shirt you designed?
When somebody calls you “cutie” or “sexy” or “mommy” when you are just trying to stumble to the laundromat, it’s essentially objectifying you as a woman. It’s bringing you down to the most basic and vulgar part of you. Basically, you are a walking pussy to some of these street callers. They dehumanize you so that they can catcall at you. Some may dehumanize you in a way that they would never do to their sister or mother, or at least I would hope. Also, I’ve been called “Hot Pussy” before. It’s pretty gross. I’m sick of dressing up real nice and then being treated like a walking orifice. And on days that I need to do errands I’m sick of walking around with no makeup on and comfortable clothes, only to be mocked for not looking sexy enough.
Describe your experience with street harassment.
I feel that no mater what it”s degrading. When I was very young and naive I perceived it as a compliment. It’s one thing to appreciate when someone looks nice. It’s quite another to be rated and objectified. I have seen guys literally rating girls as they walk down the street. Loudly. “Nice rack, but thighs are a little too thick!” Stuff like that. Not one day goes by where somebody doesn’t yell something at me as I walk down the street. Sometimes it’s just “sexy,” other times it’s guys discussing if they would fuck me and if so, how.
You seem to be a jack of all trades. What mode of art or creativity do you prefer as a mechanism of healing and self-empowerment?
In general, I channel my struggles into productivity. I like taking negative experiences in my life and twisting them into something productive, entertaining, and hopefully thought-provoking. My sense of humor is my number 1 coping mechanism. If I get harassed by somebody in a ridiculous manner I will often incorporate the interaction or perpetrator into a funny cartoon drawing. That way, my negative experience is channeled into something funny for others, but also it shows how absurd that person is behaving. I draw cartoons constantly. They aren’t Picasso’s by any strength of the imagination, but they help me vent and make me laugh. I am a writer by nature, and any experience in my life, good or bad, gets intertwined into my work somehow. The more experiences I have the better I understand the human psyche, thus the better I write.
What is your secret weapon?
I like to surprise those who harass me. I like to out-creep the creeps. Nobody that is hollering at you expects you to respond or holler back. It is an act to make you feel small, to make you feel like you don’t own yourself. It can make you feel as though you exist for others’ entertainment. I say, screw that. Turn it around and use those who want to use you as entertainment tools. So often, I will mess with their heads, if I feel it is safe to do so.
What advice do you have individuals who get harassed often?
Don’t let anyone who is harassing know that you are uncomfortable. Don’t display anger or hurt. It will only give them what they want. Say something clever and biting back. Something truthful and something assertive. Or you could straight up ignore them. They want your attention and they don’t deserve it. Why wrestle with pigs? You will only get dirty, yourself. Just know that they are behind the times.
Was going for a walk Tuesday June 4th, 2013. Guy got my attention from a white SUV. I assumed he wanted directions so I stayed about 7 feet from the car and asked him if he needed anything. He asked me if I wanted a ride. I said, no, I was just going up the street. He continued to follow me, asking me 4-5 more times if I wanted to ride, saying I was “too pretty to be walking” and I should get in the car. Finally I got pissed off (and I was fearing for me safety) so as three big guys crossed the road, I walked with them to the safety of a Subway and called for a ride. He was still sitting outside in his SUV when my ride arrived about ten minutes later.
It’s incredibly sad that I can’t walk in my own darn neighborhood without being harassed. Wish I had gotten his license plate number but I was too scared/pissed off.
The three guys asked if I needed one of them to stay while I waited for my ride and apologized that I had to deal with that.