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
Thank you for your work and for this opportunity to share my story.
While in New York, I experienced an inappropriate interaction while with my friend on the subway, in which a man “gave up his seat” for us. Though we had no need to sit down, nor did we event want to, we sat down and just tried to continue going about our conversation. The man spent spent the rest of the ride standing directly over and in front of my friend, whom he moved closer and closer to. All the while he was trying to engage us in conversation, as if that made what he was doing with his body somehow ok. It was a total violation of space and his physical closeness was extremely uncomfortable, offensive, and unwanted.
I was so upset by the whole experience, but wasn’t sure what I could do after the fact. I was upset with myself for not having said more during the interaction, and was at a loss for what could be done differently next time. With such frustration and confusion, I took to writing and composed a poem about the whole experience. I wanted to capture these emotions in the poem and to give myself a way to work through and do something about the interaction.
Until I can find something more, these words are my way of fighting back.
It was on the subway
He was one
And we were two
We were female
And he wasn’t
He gave up his seat
We gave up our choice
His giving felt more forced
The gift was not asked for
Did he give or did he take?
And what was it we received?
We sit, he stands
He stands, we sit
This time of power
He is too close
Evocating lewd gestures
It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t know
Exactly what he is doing
What exactly is he doing?
I listen clearly to his unclear words
Desperate for a clue of intention
He has to know
His rocking body too close, too close
Still he rocks
Still I remain
Silent, frozen, confused, paralyzed
Mind racing ahead
To the silences yet unsaid
I fear myself almost more than him
For if I am to remain silent
On the populated subway
How much more silent
Might I remain
Trying to navigate through the corners of my mind
I who call myself a feminist
Sit in silence
He should know
I shouldn’t have to tell him
He gets closer
He tells her like she doesn’t know
To look at the view
Of the Brooklyn Bridge
While his body
Blocks her view
Of the Brooklyn Bridge
And his words
It isn’t hard to tell
Doesn’t he know?
How much she knows?
Each rock brings him closer
The loudness in my head, spirit, body
Is only matched
By my outward silence
Until finally the subway
Says the words we didn’t
And we leave him
Two men walking past me in the metro station looked me up and down loudly declared that they would “hit that”. They were big, young men and I felt really unsafe and uncomfortable, I pretty much ran to my train.
This week Hollaback! was featured in Global Voices Online, Huffington Post, South China Morning Post, The Week, Rabble.ca, News 12 Bronx, Pix 11, Bustle, International Business Times, Winnipeg Free Press, and The New York Observer.
At the mothership, Deputy Director, Debjani Roy was interviewed on Fox News’ “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson,” and was absolutely fabulous as she discussed street harassment. If you haven’t checked out the interview yet, be sure to correct that and click here!
HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Bahamas were on “The Conversation with Shenique Miller” - a new radio talk show focused on women. They were joined by two Crisis Centre volunteers and talked about domestic violence, dating, and street harassment. They’ve also been invited to join her in a few weeks for a series of show to educate the public on the upcoming equality referendum. Great job, guys!
Hollaback! Vancouver was able to get the Vancouver Transit Police to take down slut shaming transit ads in subway trains. Not only that, but they were also able to get a sincere apology from the VTP, and Hollaback! VAncouver will be on the board to approve the replacement ads. Awesome work!
Amazing work all around HOLLAs! Til next time-
HOLLA and out!
-The Hollaback Team
My friend and I (15 and 14) were walking from Panera around 9am when two large men came out of a bank and said “Hello beautiful ladies.” We kept walking and again one of them said “can we party with you?” I said “no, thanks,” and we kept walking.
Finally we were almost away when he said “do you not like big dicks?” as if we would know their penis size from looking at their clothed bodies. Later, I went into CVS and my friend waited outside. The two men came by again and she ran in with two coffees and breakfast in her hands out of fear. We were both wearing athletic shorts and t shirts.
On my way home from work a man in the seat next to me rubbed the inside of my thigh as a way of “thanking” me for giving him directions.
Saying “nice titties” to a girl you don’t know as you walk by her isn’t a compliment or appropriate in anyway.
It creeped me out.
On my way home yesterday walking through town (at 7pm, in daylight), a group of three middle aged, fat, balding men passed me and one of them decided to casually pinch my skirt, lift it and grab my skin. I immediately saw red, turned round and punched him in the bridge of his nose. This angered the other two, they got straight up in my face shouting “What did you do that for?” at me, I shouted back and one of them pushed me by my shoulder so hard that I fell into the road. I’m fine, but shaken.
I was suffering from sciatica and scheduled for spinal fusion surgery; in the meantime I was walking with a cane. A shop I loved downtown was closing and they were having going-out-of-business sale with a contest to earn points for prizes. I was on of the top contenders. One of the ways we could earn extra points was to carry a sign advertising the sale in front of the shop. So I signed up to do this, despite my pain.
Now, I am not a young girl. I was, then, in my later forties and a bit plump. It was summer, so I was wearing sandals. As I walked back and forth in front of the shop with my sign in one hand and my cane in the other, a young man of about 16 came up to me. He at first asked me if I wanted to buy a video game console. I said “No, but you can try up the street in the campus district. A lot of college students play video games” and continued my task. He walked away for a little bit and then came back and began to make remarks about my feet – how pretty they were, what kind of nail polish I was wearing, etc. I shrugged it off but he persisted. Then he began to try to touch my feet and offered to kiss them and suck on my toes. He actually bent down and tried to grab my feet, which nearly threw me off balance. I let go of the sign to catch myself and told him to leave me alone. He started to follow me, apologizing, but I went back into the shop early, willing to give up my prize to get away from him.
I told the shop owner what had happened, which naturally shocked them. They gave me my points anyway, but I went home and never returned to finish the contest. I felt violated. All he touched was my feet, but I still felt violated. Despite the heat, I wore socks and tennis shoes for a week before being willing to wear sandals in public again. I’ve been cat called and had passes made at me in my younger days, but this was the most bizarre and creepy thing that has ever happened to me. I still regret not calling to the police to at least give them a heads-up on this guy.
It was about 4 years ago now which would of made me 22. I was getting a tram back home during rush hour and felt something touching me from behind. I turned to see a man looking me straight in the eye and decided to move away from him. Moments later I feel it happening again but now the tram was so cramped I couldn’t move away. I turned my head and the same man had followed me and was groping me again. I didn’t know what to do as he smirked at me when I began to panic.
I was once walking down the street with my sister, and two men on a rickshaw said “Smile baby, come take a ride!” and they both started snickering.