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I was sitting down for lunch at a small Muslim restaurant (one of my favorites), when a man came to sit at my table. There were other empty tables, so I thought this was a little strange, but didn’t comment on it. Because I am a white woman, Chinese people occasionally approach me to strike up a conversation or practice their English. Most of the time, I don’t mind this much, and often enjoy the opportunity to practice my Chinese and/or help someone practice English, and make new friends (since many of my friends are foreign students like me). But on this particular day, I wanted to eat lunch alone so I could eat quickly and get back to my dorm to do some studying. So I ignored the man sitting next to me. He leaned over and asked (in English) “what country are you from?”. Because my program involved a language pledge where I could not speak any English, I responded in Chinese. He began to ask me more questions and comment on my looks, and I responded (again, in Chinese), “I don’t want to talk to you, I just want to eat my lunch”. This did not deter him. I made my answers shorter and more curt, and asked him why he was still talking to me even though I had told him I did not want to talk to him. I repeated that I wanted to eat my lunch in peace. He then called me a b****, and said that I would “relax” if I spoke to him in English. I reached into my bag for my wallet to pay for my meal and get the hell out, and realized I had left my wallet in my dorm. I cursed in English, and went to find the proprietor to explain the situation. In the time that I was pawing through my bag, the man who had been harassing me paid for my meal. Oh hell no. I explained to the proprietor (who knew me because I was a regular customer) my money situation, and told him that I would pay for my meal myself. I told him to give the man his money back. I then managed to find 5 kuai in my purse (half the cost of the meal), and ran back to my dorm to get my wallet so I could pay him the other 5. I looked over my shoulder the whole way back because I was terrified that that creepy guy was going to follow me. Thank god he didn’t.
Since then, I’ve been immensely distrustful of strange men approaching me or talking to me, and I’ve become much more hostile towards catcalls or men who try to grind with me in nightclubs. I also try to go to restaurants that have at least one other empty table so I’m certain that a stranger won’t sit with me. I still travel around Beijing alone, but I’m always very much “on guard”, and prefer to travel or go out to clubs and bars with male friends, since this does a fairly good job of deterring harassers. I love Beijing and I love studying here, but I hate that I don’t feel safe walking down the street or eating by myself.
I was in school in 6th grade. I was really, really late for P.E. I begin walking to the gym, when suddenly, I see this group of 7th grade boys appear out of nowhere. They’re laughing at something. And one of them says…. he actually says this: “You’re gonna be all up in my balls!”
What the Fluff?
I was kind of frozen there, as he and his buddies walked away, laughing. Were they on drugs or something? I began to shout “What is WRONG with you!?” and stuff to them, but they didn’t hear.
So I told on them.
The 7th graders are messed up. One of my friends who’s more developed got asked by one of them, in a rude manner, “What bra size do you wear?”
This angers me.
I live in a relatively small town, and my friends and I go walking a lot for entertainment.
It was about 8pm at the time this occurred and dark, but there are A LOT of lights so it might as well have been daytime. Myself, two other girls, and one guy. Girl 1 and the guy were maybe 10-15 feet in front of myself and the Girl 2. We were walking down the sidewalk on a busy intersection on our way to a gas station, almost there. As me and girl 2 were walking, we were only wearing skinny jeans, sneakers, t-shirts, and over sized jackets. A jeep drove past us very slowly (No need for them to be going slowly other than for us, as it is a very busy, fast paced street) and honked at us twice. We were unnerved by it as we had both read this site.
Then, no more than 30 seconds later, the same jeep turns around and honks at us several times more as it slowly passes us. We ended up running to the gas station in a bit of a panic because it made us feel very nervous, seeing as we are only 14/15 and we worried it would come back and try something else.
I’ve recently started going to the gym while my sister goes swimming and normally my dad comes with me but he was working late so I had to go by myself. As I walked in two guys stared at me walking in. Later I was walking over to another machine and the same guy stood in my way and said ‘hey there’. I ignored him and walked on. As I was walking back he again step in front of me and told me his friend wanted to know my name. I said no and continued walking and then came after mew and asked why, I said I’m only fourteen. I then half ran to a busier part of the gym and both guys went on the bikes on either side of me. I felt so trapped and I literally couldn’t speak. I then just walked away. I can’t even tell my parents or I’ll never be able to go the gym again. I told my sister and she said they were probably just ‘taking the piss’ my own sister thought it was acceptable, I’m not sure whats worse the men thinking the could do that or sister thinking it’s okay.
Writer/podcast producer Mur Lafferty penned a fantastic letter to her daughter that reads both brutally honest and sweetly optimistic. The whole letter is worth reading by anyone who has ever been a little girl or known someone with a daughter. In other words, you should read it.
“You will not change their mind by arguing, by telling them they are wrong. You change their mind by showing them how being a girl is awesome. You show them by not hiding, by not being demure.
“I gotta say, you are the prettiest little girl I ever did see!”
“‘Thanks?’ You’re awfully matter of fact about that. I guess when a boy tells you how pretty you are, you’ll come home and be like, ‘Oh MOM! He said I was PRETTY!’”
– An older man and my daughter, this weekend
You show them by being more than your looks, even if that’s all people comment on. You show them by your independence. You show them by being more than they expect to see. You show them by not taking their shit.
When I think of little girls, I think of you. I think of perfect math scores, a passion for science, a love of My Little Pony, swords, dressing up as Cleopatra, and having absolutely no shyness or fear. I think of someone with a sharp wit, and frightening skills with a stunt kite. I think of someone with determination – even if you don’t know it yet, I’ve seen it. Whatever you’re determined to do, you manage to do it.”
BY CATHERINE FAVORITE
It’s not every day we come across a political campaign that makes street harassment one of the central points of their platform. In London, however, two of the candidates running for mayor are doing just that. Siobhan Benita, an independent and Ken Livingstone, the Labor Party candidate, have both come out in favor of doing more to prevent street harassment, as a part of their efforts to address violence against women and girls.
Both Livingstone and Benita recently issued their own crime manifestos promising to address street harassment and street violence in London.
Three tenets from Benita’s manifesto include:
• Guaranteed continuation of funding for all four Rape Crisis Centres in London for at least the length of my mayoralty and work with London boroughs to expand provision across the Capital.
• Tackle harassment of women and girls in public spaces in London and on our transport system.
• Develop a London-wide plan to combat forced marriage, honour- based violence and female genital mutilation, including evaluating the effectiveness of current approaches.
Ken Livingstone’s crime manifesto, meanwhile, offers suggestions for more community-organized watches for safer streets and wants to create a public campaign against sexual harassment in London’s public spaces.
Ms. Benita cited the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition, when referencing her reasons for taking an active stance against street harassment, which says: “The four million women and girls who live in London have the right to feel and be safe in their communities, workplaces, at school, on public transport, in the street and at home.”
“As a mother of two daughters, I couldn’t agree more. Furthermore, I believe this statement applies equally to every person living in London, regardless of their sexuality, gender, age, race, faith, or disability.”
If every person with a daughter thought the way Ms. Benita does about making the world a better place for girls to grow up in, or pushed for more public responsibility, like Mr. Livingstone, street harassment would no longer exist. Regardless of who becomes London’s next mayor, this issue now has the potential to become part of the wider discussion on gender and sexuality inequality.
Walking towards three men in their thirties I though ‘I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, I won’t cross the road, I’m sure they’re fine.’
Just as I am about to pass them, one says “Yo yo yo yo yo, you sexy, you know you sexy in those leggings.”
As he started hollering, I assumed he was talking to his friend, so I only managed a “fuck off” once I had passed them.
I won’t be giving any other guys the benefit of the doubt.
According to fellow anti-street harassment blog, Stop Street Harassment, new legislation proposed yesterday by Councilwoman Muriel Bowser will make it easier for police to apprehend accused public masturbators and flashers on DC’s transport system. If the bill is passed it means that the perpetrators of such crimes are more likely to face a penalty.
The Washington Examiner reported that the legislation will lower standards for officers to arrest individuals for indecent exposure, bringing D.C in line with procedures in Maryland and Virginia. The bill will enable police to make arrests based on enough circumstantial evidence.
The WMATA are addressing the issue thanks to pressure from Collective Action for Safe Spaces, who have been imploring the organization to do more about sexual harassment and assault on the area’s transport system. The team testified in February before D.C. City Council catching the attention of Ward 4 Council Member Muriel Bowser.
Holly Kearl of Stop Street Harassment out lined the next steps for the bill on her blog:
“The bill has been referred to Council Member Mendelson’s Committee on the Judiciary. They need to hold a hearing and then vote on it in a separate mark-up hearing. The full Council then has to vote on it twice to be submitted to the Mayor for signature.”
So here’s a big Hollaback! shout out to Councilmember Bowser for taking notice and doing something awesome. You Rock!
This is a local old man who seems to think he is gods gift to women. He has asked 2 of the (much younger than he is)women in our office out. He has tried this in the office and while one was in a fast food restaurant…He is old enough to be their grandfather. He leers at you from head to toe. Last weekend, my husband and I were at a local fast food restaurant and there he was 2 customers in front of us, I pointed him out to my husband and filled him in on his tricks,,,meantime this very attractive mother and daughter came in, so creepo, out of the blue, turns around after placing his order and leers them and says “I’m saving a seat for you and your sister with me” of course they looked at him like he had 2 heads and moved on.Meantime, the waiter tries to say “sir, your order is ready” 3 times and creepo is still leering, so I said to the waiter”He obviously can’t hear you, he is too busy flirting to pick up his food” others around me heard what I said and had noticed him trying to pick up the two as well…one of them snickered and rolled his eyes…so what would you have done,,I really wanted to say to these two unsuspecting women, he is a local and he is a creep…I did relay this to the 2 women in the office and they were totally grossed out, this old geezer really thinks that they would be interested in going out with him??? This is a beach community and so who knows how many he reaches for, do you just ignore when you notice him leering at women like this or what could you say??
Why do you HOLLA? Because it makes me feel less a victim. Because it is a way to reclaim my right to be seen as a full human being. And because I like it when I take them by surprise.
What’s your signature Hollaback? Depends on the situation. Sometimes in German, because then no one understands, sometimes just “Fuck off”, sometimes “Don’t harass people”. What I did last time was “Jamais vu une femme? Pauvre!” (“Never seen a woman? Poor guy.”)
HOLLAfact about your city: Brussels has a large amount of beautiful Art Déco and Art Nouveau houses.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I was perhaps around fourteen, walking down the street with a friend of mine. A guy drove past, sounded the horn and yelled something unintelligible.
Define your style: Flowers, flowers, flowers on my clothes!
My superheroine/hero power is…..My dark, loud voice. As no harasser would expect this from the girl with the flower dress.
What do you collect? Memories.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? This might be a bit nasty, but: Force all the harassers out there to be for one day one of the persons they normally harass: women, LGBTQ people etc. So they see how it feels like.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t wait for someone else to push for change. Go start it yourself.
What inspires you? My three fellow HollaBrussels! girls. We’re a dreamteam!