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Hey there Hollaback!,
What a fantastic and exciting week it’s been for us! On Tuesday we hosted our first ever Holla::REV in London! Each of the speakers brought a new issue to the conversation about street harassment, and it was so energizing to have so many new voices engaged in the work to #endSH. Shout out to Bryony, Julia, and Susuana our Hollaback! London and ULU site leaders for all of their help on the ground in making this event a huge success! Emily and Debjani got to spend the rest of the week hanging out with some of our cool site leaders from around the globe for our site-leader retreat.
At home in NYC, the team has been getting enthused about our new platform, HeartMob. On Wednesday, Rachel and the interns attended CivicX Demo Night to support Courtney, our HeartMob expert. Courtney pitched the platform to over 150 attendees at the event. Nice work Courtney!
Here’s what’s going on around the globe:
Hollaback! Baltimore hosted an open discussion on black women and their experiences with street harassment. The site co-director Brittany successfully facilitated a conversation centered around black cis and trans women, femmes and girls. Such an important conversation to have!
Hollaback! Berlin hosted an “Own Your Body” festival this past weekend. The team partner with a Brazilian artist whose work is focused on crushing body normalization.
At the Milano Pride Parade this past weekend, Hollaback! Italia joined forces with community members to create a chalk campaign to raise awareness against street harassment.
Can’t wait to hear what amazing things will be going on next week!
Holla and Out!
I was waiting for the “walk” sign so I could cross Houston Street in New York City. A man, likely 30 years older than me, stood next to me and said, “Hi, how are you?” I looked up and quickly nodded while giving a faint smile. He then started to tell me about himself to which I showed little interest except for occasionally saying, “Ohh.” He then began to ask me where I lived and where I was going none of which I responded to. He pulled out his cell phone and asked me to put in my number, I said “no”, turned around and went down the stairs of the nearby subway. I did not actually need to use the subway, because I lived nearby, but figured I could hide out there until the light changed and he crossed the street. However, he followed me down the subway stairs and said he needed to use the subway too. At this point I was very scared and started saying, “Please leave me alone. Please leave me alone,” expecting someone in the subway station to step in, but instead on-lookers dispersed, and I was left alone with him. I was scared to run up the stairs in case he continued to follow me or tried to pull me towards him, so I walked right up to the turnstile and fumbled with my wallet, pretending to get out my subway metrocard. He went to the turnstile next to me and put his metrocard in and crossed to the other side. I then immediately backed away as he yelled angrily at me, “Hey! Come back here! Come back here! Give me your number!” I was so scared and in shock that I just stared at him for a bit as he yelled at me, before turning around and sprinting up the stairs and down the street for the next four blocks.
Received the most obscene catcall in my life. I ignored him. He continued shouting. There was no one else on the street. No less than a few minutes later, another man commented ‘now that’s a woman’. I feel tired and humiliated. Most of all i feel powerless.
I was at rockfest in Kansas City and while me and one of my friends were listening to a band on the main stage these guys came up behind us. The crowd was really tight so everyone was packed together really close. One of the guys tried to start up a conversation but I shut him down and turned back to watching the music. A crowd surfer was coming toward us and fell just in front pushing me backward into him. All i could feel was his hand on my ass. I jumped forward and turned around, he apologized, smirking, and said that it had been an accident. I was definately feeling more uncomfortable but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I turned around and tried to enjoy the concert. the next thing I knew he was right behind me with his hand between my legs from behind. Now I have never been physically assaulted before so reaction is not my strong suit, but I turned around and shoved him as hard as a could. He was still smiling as I grabbed my friend and dragged her away. The worst part was probably her reaction. She acted like it was just another thing that happens at rock concerts when these guys get drunk. NO. I don’t care how much alcohol he had it does not give him the right to touch me. And it honestly makes me more sad that some women just accept it as a part of life.
I work downtown and will either take the bus home or walk. A few months ago, probably in February or March, I noticed a man hit on a woman as I left work around 8pm. She brushed him off and he tried to talk to me, but I ignored him and kept walking. I had to run some errands so I stopped by Target, and was talking on the phone to my mom when he tapped me on the shoulder. He said he knew I was in the middle of a conversation but he really “liked [my] look” and wanted to talk to me. I told him to wait until I was finished talking if he wanted to speak with me, and walked away.
A month or two later, I was waiting at my usual bus stop when the same man came up to me. He struck up a conversation with me, and not wanting to be rude, I talked to him for a bit. When he asked me if I was an artist, I told him I had designed the image on my t-shirt. He laughed and said “Well, now I’m looking directly at your chest.” Thankfully that was the moment my bus came, and when he asked me out for coffee I told him I wasn’t interested, and had to leave.
Those were both downtown. Tonight, I was walking home from work again and was stopped at an intersection closer to my neighborhood. I turned to look at something and saw the same man behind me, so I quickly turned away obviously not wanting to be engaged in conversation. He walked all the way around me until he was right in front of my face and couldn’t be ignored and said “Hello, you know you look really cute.” I felt like this guy needed to be put in his place, so I told him that I saw through his act and he had done this to me several times before. Rather than being ashamed, he was delighted, and said “Really! Wow! I thought you looked familiar!” I forcefully told him that I was not interested in talking to him and that I was trying to make my way home in peace. He said “Well I just thought someone should tell you you looked cute.” I walked away from him without a word.
I’ve not only had uncomfortable interactions with this particular man in the last few months, but have had multiple notable sexist interactions with men in the last week alone, all while simply trying to commute home from work. I feel uncomfortable to even walk out my door or wear something that shows a bit more skin. It is not acceptable to be made to feel this way simply trying to get to and from work.
Watch your butt while grocery shopping. There are perverts out there taking pictures with hidden cameras and putting them on the internet.
I wear short shorts and sleeveless tops because I think I have great legs and arms. I generally dress for my body type and keep it preppy casual. Unfortunately, I was walking down the street and a man yells out the passenger window of a moving car: “you dropped your wallet!” laughing as a few dollar bills fly through the air.
I was walking my dog down my block and there was a group of men working on my neighbors driveway. I could see one of them staring at me and I watched him move behind a vehicle parked in the road. I watched his feet under the car…he was waiting for me to walk up to him. But he was hiding. When I came up on the vehicle, he stepped right in front of me, sort of blocking my path. He asked what kind of dog I had so I told him. Then he asked me if my husband was home. Even though Im married to a woman, I just said “Yes, yes he is”. I didnt want him to think I was single or home alone. He then said, “Can I ask you a question, can I have a hug?”. My dog began to growl at him, and my dog has NEVER done this before. Mind you, it was almost 95 degrees, hot and humid. I said “No dude and you better back off or my dog will bite you”. He asked again, making it sound like he wasn’t asking for much. I quickly walked away. He stared at me the whole time. My dog kept stopping to look back at him, thats how I caught him staring. Now he knows where I live, as he was working there all day and I live two houses down. I locked myself in the house all day yesterday and today Im afraid to walk my dog because hes there again. I think Ill go out with a pocket knife, just in case. It might not sound very threatening to some of you, but Im scared of this guy. Im scared that he knows where I live. And theres not much I can do about this other then continue to be hypervigilant.
I was walking through a shopping mall to escape some of the summer heat, and had just gotten off the escalator to visit a few other shops. A man in his early twenties approached me politely and asked if I knew where the nearest Indian restaurant was; I gave him the intersection with the nearest restaurant. So far, so normal!
Next, he said: “Please feel free to say yes or no, but would you like to try my Indian juices?” (This was his ethnic background.) I was so shocked, at first, I just said, “No, but thanks” and walked away into the nearest store. After simmering for about thirty seconds and feeling my heartrate do all kinds of crazy things, I realized that leaving our interaction at that was wrong, especially with the number of other young women/girls walking in the mall that day.
I walked back out and to the guy, who seemed surprised to see me coming.
“Do you realize that the question you asked me could be taken sexually?” I asked him. No reason to assume ill intent if he was just really, truly culturally ignorant. Sadly, he wasn’t. He immediately began to shuffle his feet and admit that, no, he knew what it meant, but he was just “really bored” and an engineering student at X University for the summer.
“It’s not appropriate. I’m twenty-nine, but if you approach a seventeen-year-old and say that, there’s going to be a problem. That is not appropriate to say.”
He whined that he was just trying to find something to do with his summer.
“It’s not appropriate. Hope you find something better to do with your summer,” was my final comment before walking away.
Then, I went into a shop nearby and immediately reported him to the cashier and asked that she call security. Two guards responded within the next ten minutes.
Calling this person out and then reporting it made me feel more in control; as a survivor of past physical assault, this kind of verbal confrontation makes me feel all of the awful physiological reactions to an assault all over again (nausea, headache, heart palpitations, sweating). Dealing with this individual as a proactive adult, and not as a reactive victim, does help relieve those feelings, but I still feel gross! This kind of behavior is 100% unacceptable. Hopefully, my efforts plus those of the security who escorted him from the mall will help him realize that.
The graduation presents my father bought me and my sister when we went out on our own we’re powerful Tazers. I remember him looking at them before we left, trying to find the most practical ones. He messages each of us constantly to assure that we are carrying them, they also work as flashlights, one night I was terrified when I was pressed to use it on another individual.
A coworker of mine, we’ll say her name is Stacy, had told me about a weird man who came into our retail store one Saturday night, he came in when she was trying to close and was asking her odd questions. We didn’t think much of it and, subsequently, brushed it off. That following Wednesday, I got a call from a man who was looking to speak to her. He mentioned that he had been in that weekend and was supposed to call her back to discuss a few things.
When I brought this up to my coworker, she said that she didn’t talk to anyone at that length but the man and that they didn’t agree to speak again.
Just at that moment, with both of us looking confused at the phone, he called. I answered and attempted to prove him for information. What gave him the assumption that she wanted him to call? He simply kept insisting that they had ‘important’ things to discuss. According to Stacy, they had nothing to discuss. I hung up the phone on him and thought that would be the end of it.
The week after that, I was closing on a Saturday night by myself as we often do. I was cleaning something, in the front of the store which is just a wall of windows. It was only ten minutes before I had to lock the door when I saw a car pull slowly by my store. There was a man, driving alone in a car marked with Colorado license plates. He crept by, his eyes searching for something or someone. As he walked slowly up to the windows in the store, I didn’t have that tazer in my work apron and, even if I had, I would have felt fear-stricken regardless. He didn’t enter the store. He started from one end of the windows and slowly worked his way down to me. I knew at that point that something was going on. So, when he made eye-contact with me and smiled I felt like I was going to cry. I was absolutely paralyzed.
He looked similar in appearance to the man Stacy saw just a couple weeks before. I didn’t feel safe enough to take out my phone for a picture, however. I stood and hoped that he wouldn’t enter the store. I couldn’t lock the door either, I was afraid that it also may be someone important, like a health inspector. He man walked away from my store like he had been caught and just stood in front of the store next to mine. He stood there like he was thinking of his next plan of action.
Now, I was watching him very closely. So, when he quickly turned towards me and walked briskly to the still unlocked door, I physically jumped. The man opened the door, and spoke to me as if our whole exchange wasn’t filled with his off putting actions.
“So, where is a good place to get some food around here?” He spoke to me as if we had been talking before. I told him the first restaurant that I could think of, to get him out of there. The whole time he was looking at me, I felt violated and defensive, ready to pick up any object and defend myself. He also looked oddly disappointed. He left out the door after I gave him a recommendation. The man then proceeded to walk to his car, the only one in the parking lot, and entered through his passenger door. I continued to work. I swept and mopped and counted my drawer all in the period of which he was sitting in his car, alone. I. The seat closest to me.
When I went into our employee area to grab my things, I held my electrical flashlight in my hand, ready once again. The man’s car was not in front anymore and there seemed to be no other humans in sight. I walked frantically to my car and didn’t feel safe even when I reached my home.
I called Stacy and explained to her what the man looked like. She was positive that it was the same man, even down to his tie-die shirt labeled with a festival that happens in the area.
I told my boyfriend of my concerns about what happened. He starting asking me so many questions. “Why didn’t you call security? Why didn’t you lock the door when you saw him? Is she sure that it is the same guy?” The answer to all of his questions was silence form me. I realized that because we had no physical proof, people brushed it off on us being paranoid.
Now, the next week, this week, is when I had another Saturday closing shift. I locked the door early that night when no one was in the lot, just to be safe. As I was sweeping, I heard the roar of a motorcycle. I lifted my head only to see a similar looking man creeping by my store’s giant windows. His plates were also from Colorado. He made eye contact with me again and smiled. From what I could see, the only differences in the men were his face was shaven and the other man, from the Saturday before, sported a thick beard. He turned his cycle in my direction and drifted to the curb right in front of the door. He parked his cycle in front of the door. At this point, I was done feeling so terrified. I stood in front of the door as he was trying to open it, making sure he didn’t look away from my eyes. He seemed confused when I didn’t unlock the door to let him in. I didn’t care, I stood and gazed out at him, challenging him. After several failed attempts at getting the door opened by smiling at me like we were old friends, he got on his motorcycle and left. I work in a mall setting, there are many store surrounding me but, he drove up to mine intentionally and left without seeing any other stores.
I called my father on my way out of the store, in hopes that he would help me calm down. I was so scared and exposed. Yet, I still knew that I had things to do in my personal life. I drove over to my local Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. I grabbed my purse, the home of my tazer, and started to walk in to the store. i could see the door form the place I was standing and had to stop to wait on crossing the road.
I heard a rumbling just to the left of me, I looked up. To my disbelief, the same man that had been at the store earlier, was stopped at the stop sign, waiting for me to cross. I practically ran away from him and my car as I heard some sort of whooping noise behind me, no doubt coming from the man.
I live close to that store so, I didn’t go home that night, in fear that he was following me. I am not sure where or who he is but, I am scared. I am so terrified. And, this isn’t even the first time I have felt scared because of a similar encounter. Next Saturday, I am scheduled to work again.