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A man who was older than me (almost 30), touched my behind in the street and went so quickly that I couldn’t tell something. Very mature.
Ok, this isn’t exactly a story. Well, it is, but it’s also a question. Sorry if it’s a little long!
So, I am a women who was born with a disability. I am a little person, but I am a proportional one, so I basically look like a little kid. (I think it’s due to an auto-immune disease). I also have Crohn’s disease, which is unrelated, but results in me being unable to eat and digest food properly, so I’m pretty skinny as well. (Now I’ve got some meat on my bones, because I’ve been in remission for almost two years. Go me! But I also swim, so I’m still pretty tiny). Besides that, I’m pretty conventionally attractive. I don’t say that to brag, but just to sort of give a context for my life–as in, I think I would have it worse if I wasn’t conventionally attractive, and it also draws more people to me. (Because society sucks that way)
People often compliment me on various things–my complexion, my hair, my body. Or they will ask/remark on my differences–which is annoying, but tolerable. However, they will then sometimes reach out AND TOUCH ME. They’ll stroke my cheek, or try to run a hand through my hair, or put their hand on the small of my back (still can’t figure that one out). It happens a lot at work (I’ve actually posted about it before.) The worst was a few weeks ago when a man grabbed me on both sides where my neck and shoulder meet and SHOOK me. I don’t know why. Everyone asks, and I honestly could not tell you what the fuck was going through his head.
It’s sometimes women, but it’s mostly men who do this, and my question is two-fold. 1) Is this more of an ableist/opportunity thing, or do you guys think there is a sexualized element to it as well? (When it’s men) 2) Do you guys think that I would experience the same thing if I were a man? (Are there any male posters with experiences of this?) I’m not sure why it matters–I guess I just want to be able to identify the type of harassment, in order to respond properly.
Thanks and sorry this was so long!
I was waiting to board my bus home after work – by the back door, because the Metro bus I take is notoriously busy (and gross, but that’s another story). I stepped slightly to the side, as I always do, so that others could de-board before I got on the bus. One man stepped off, and said an awkward, “hi” as he passed me. The next man, whom I’m assuming was with him, reached out and grabbed (rubbed, really) my breast as he walked past me. I was SO shocked, I continued to step onto the bus. I couldn’t believe that had just happened. I had a weird moment of disconnect, like I was just watching his hand come at me. I don’t know if anyone saw, but if they did, no one said anything. I was angry/totally freaked out/sad that I didn’t even SAY ANYTHING to him. I didn’t even get a good look at him, so I had no description. I called the police to report it, because I felt so terrible that he got away with it because I didn’t scream at him or react in any way. I was angry. The police couldn’t do anything, obviously, since I had zero description and it’d happened hours earlier, but I felt better having reported it so SOMEONE. Now, I cross my arms as I board the bus, and today boarded with my cell phone camera at the ready in case something similar happens again. This was a rude awakening that I need to be more alert, ready to use my voice, when downtown and on the bus.
Because of your support, we continue to move and shake. This week:
Hollaback Philly needs your support! They write, “You heard about our advertising campaign for the Philadelphia subway lines. Help us expand that campaign to include more ads, and push us toward our goal of getting ads in bus shelters in Philadelphia!” Visit their project page and click “Vote for this Idea.” If they win, they’ll recieve the $1000 needed to bring anti-harassment ads to the Philly bus shelters!
Street harassment happens everywhere. No matter what you wear, what time of day or where you are heading. This video is proof. The attendees of July’s Otakon here at the Baltimore Convention Center had plenty to say about street harassment. They were getting it from strangers back home AND from Baltimore, whether in cosplay or street clothes, and even from some other attendees (who you’d think would be happy enough to be around like-minded people that they wouldn’t ruin it for some fellow nerdy women). This video help shows that it is not the women or lgbtq folks who need to change their behavior, it is the harassers.
Well done Hollaback Bmore! Check out their video, above.
Thank you, Amy! We were very sad to say goodbye to our summer staff member, Amy Klein. Amy is the co-founder of Permanent Wave, an amazing network of feminist activists and artists. This summer, Amy authored our new guide for activists interested in launching Hollaback sites on college campuses. We are honored to have worked with her, and she will surely have a lasting impact on our organization and the movement.
Hollaback Boston Chalks it Up! Join them in their direct action sidewalk chalking on August 11th — and send us the photos! We’ll post them here on ihollaback.org.
Hollaback Brussels issues a public statement in response to the government’s new 250 euro street harassment fines. They write, “We are very happy to witness how Belgian Politicians are acknowledging the issue and making legislative plans to address sexism and street harassment. We’d like to encourage them further but we also would like to see a deeper analysis and research for the problem at hand.” They offer a ton of great suggestions and alternatives to criminalization. Check them out, here.
We’re all in this together, so thanks again for your support.
HOLLA and out –
I was walking with two male friends and we happened to be walking very close together. I’m female-bodied but present ambiguously. A car drove by and slowed down, calling us “A bunch of faggots,” and then sped away really quickly.
This is on my walk to work every day. And every day, there are three or more men that sit on this street corner. Not just on one side, but both. Sometimes one stands in the middle. So when you walk through, you are surrounded. And every time I walked down the street, the harassment would start about half a block away. One would see me and nudge his friends. All would turn to look until I got closer. One of them would call out, “Morning, sugar.” Relatively harmless comments grow less so as I walk through. “Looks like you on the catwalk this morning.” “Sexy, girl.”
I have since switched to walk a longer route to work every day to avoid this specific group of men. I hate that I have altered a daily component of my life because of them, and I usually get harassed more innocuously anyway on my half-hour walk to work.
“sexy” as I walked past in the street
Oh just walking to work and a man a block away starts staring at me….and rubbing his nipples. Shocked and disgusted, I continue walking toward this loathsome creature, and as I pass him (yes, he’s still vigorously rubbing his nipples), I say, “It looks like your nipples itch. You know they have a cream for that, right?” I NEED A SHOWER.
My roommate and I were walking down the street back to our apartment from our local Kwik Trip in t-shirts and athletic shorts around 11:45 pm. We were minding our own business, clearly, simply walking and talk about our plans for the rest of the evening. As we crossed and intersection a car turned, slowed down, and a young male (presumably college age) yelled “SLUTS!” at us and him and his friend proceeded to laugh at that. As I turned around to respond– to be honest, i didn’t even know what I’d say– they were already gone. My roommate and I didn’t speak for a few moments, embarrassed and hurt by what had happened. When we got home, we turned from embarrassment, to anger, to sadness. My friend showed me this website after I posted the story to my facebook page. This is what I posted:
I am deeply distressed and frustrated with the fact that as a 22 year old female college student I cannot even walk down the street with my roommate in a t-shirt and athletic shorts without being called “SLUTS!” by passing cars. Besides pointing out the fact that there is a very blatant double standard being promoted with that comment, one that is still incredibly evident in our society today, I have a few more things to say.
FOR REAL?!?!? I know this type of shit happens everywhere and to everyone, but it is upsetting regardless. To the guys who yelled that at us tonight, how did it make you feel? Did it make you feel better about yourself or more empowered? Do you REALLY think its OKAY to yell at two girls walking down the sidewalk from YOUR CAR without giving us a chance to respond?! What if someone said that to your sister? Your female friends? Your mother? Or other women in your life that you love and respect dearly?
You don’t even know us, dude. Not a damn thing about us. And I’ll admit, it hurt my damn feelings and I don’t even know YOU. But these things happen. And I’ll recover, while you’ll remain an insensitive and disrespectful individual.
So while you can laugh about this with all your friends for a mere second and probably forget about the whole incident, I will not. And I’ll use it as motivation to keep spreading my truth, keep studying what I’m studying, and keep on my path of treating others well, even strangers walking down the street. It is NOT OKAY to yell degrading comments to women. EVER. It’s not funny, it’s hurtful and silencing. Peace and Love, yo.
I think this website is absolutely amazing. Thanks for being a place where I feel I can be heard. Infinite love
When I started reading through the stories on this site, my first reaction was to sympathize and think, ‘wow, this is terrible. I’m lucky to have never experienced harassment like this myself.’ I’m a bit of a shut-in and, because of this, I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life until recently. I figured I just haven’t been in many situations where harassment could take place.
But the more I thought about it–the more /this site/ got me thinking about it–the more I realized I was wrong. Even with my life as a shut-in, I /have/ experienced harassment.
When I was in sixth grade, I used to go walking in the woods with a friend of mine. On one such occasion, we wandered into a previously-unexplored part of the forest and found the remains of an old treehouse. Someone had left a pair of extremely feminine lace panties there–my friend and I were too innocent to think of /why/ they were probably there. We merely found it funny in sort of a surreal way.
Then these three boys showed up. They began taunting us, shouting at us, insulting everything from our looks to our intelligence. One of the boys picked up the underwear; he mockingly asked if it was mine, and threw it at me. When we tried to leave, they followed us or blocked our path. My friend and I were frightened, angry, and humiliated. I remember I was shaking. I was almost crying.
I had been carrying a large, solid tree branch as a walking stick, so in a moment of rage and desperation, I swung it at one of the boys. At almost twenty years old, I now understand that assaulting someone who’s harassing you isn’t exactly well-advised, but at the time I was younger and upset. I felt so helpless; no matter what we did, the boys refused to leave us alone. Luckily the boys backed off. As they backpedaled, one of the boys called me a ‘psycho bitch’, and then they were gone. Still shaking, My friend and I ran home.
For years afterwards, I categorized the incident as just some other kids being dicks, and dismissed it. In retrospect I realize that if my friend and I had been /boys/, we almost certainly would have been left alone. These boys harassed us because we were two /girls/ alone in the woods, and much of what they said involved sexual slurs.
It’s not exactly a ‘street harassment’ per se, but it strikes me because those boys were roughly two years younger. By fourth grade they already had the idea that it was okay to demand our attention, harass us, block our path. It’s a little scary how young stuff like this starts. My friend and I never went back to that part of the woods again.