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I’ve lived in happy valley, hong kong my whole life, and because it is my home, my neighbourhood, i have usually felt very comfortable here. but for the past few months, i have been harassed by these dudes and this lovely neighbourhood which used to be one that i could walk around aimlessly with a popsicle is now one in which i need to think about my route to the train station, policing where i walk in an attempt to avoid this harassment. i hate this. it royally, seriously sucks. i don’t know who these dudes are but whenever i see them, they leer and stare at me and will occasionally stop in the street and watch me walk past them and away. it’s disgusting. it makes me feel like garbage. i have tried reasoning with them, arguing with them, screaming at them. nothing has worked. when i yelled at them on one day when i was too hot and frustrated to think straight, one guy called after me ‘hey bitch.’ a few days later, the other dude came running after me on the street and asked me to explain why i got so mad. i did. and he just…didn’t get it. he didn’t understand why their actions would bother me. WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND?! just leave me the hell alone. do you want someone to wink at you, leer at you, stare at you when you walk down the street? i highly doubt it. why can’t you afford me the same damn courtesy. i want to wander down the street, running errands and not thinking about who will be around the corner. i want my neighbourhood back.
Driving home, north on Interstate 87/Adirondack Northway in upstate New York with my sunroof open, I noticed a truck driver looking down at me. As we continued, he stayed with me. If I sped up, he sped up. If I slowed down, he slowed down. Ultimately, I took an exit quickly so that he didn’t have time to also get off, then waited a bit by the side of the road to give him time to continue on ahead of me. Then I re-entered the highway and continued my journey home safely.
This happened about a year ago, and only now am I learning about hollaback. Next time, if this ever happens again, I will think to get the driver’s license plate or take a picture or contact hollaback. Thank you for the good work you are doing!
It had been sunny all day. A bit windy, but sunny.
7pm, night is setting in. Eighteen or so lovely enthusiasts show up at the entrance of De Brouckère Metro station to start Hollaback!Brussels’ 2nd CHALK-WALK. We have chalk, self-made banners, flyers in hand – and a lot of badass energy!
and then.. It starts to rain.
But: Who living in Brussels will let her/himself be deterred by such a negligible fact as rain?
Exactly: No One.
The covered roof of the entrance of De Brouckère proves to be a perfect hideout – we huddle together and after some troubled looks towards the pitch-black sky, we start writing on the pavement, there, on the spot.
More and more people running from the rain join our shelter – slowly it gets crowded under there – and they become (unintentional) bystanders watching us while we write our colorful messages. We hand out flyers, explain what we are doing, why we are here. It feels exciting; unusual for some, thrilling for others.
And then the rain stops pouring … just for a second. With the urge to move on, we look for areas that are at least slightly covered so our chalk messages are not immediately washed away. We run to another protected area.
More chalk-walkers come forward and write how they feel about street harassment, how it affects them, what they think should be done about it. We talk with bystanders, passers-by and rain shelter seekers. Reactions range from “Oh, is it that bad in Brussels?” (from tourists) to “Yeah, it happens a lot, you’re right” to “Wow, finally someone is doing something about it” to “You girls are amazing”. And it starts to sink in how important this is, being on the street like this, talking with people, starting a dialogue. But also for ourselves: It’s empowering, it liberates us from certain fears, and being in a group like this reinforces the fact that we ‘have each other’s backs’.
We walk on from shelter to shelter and when the rain finally stops, for real this time, we go to reclaim the biggest spot we had marked on our map: “La Bourse”.
There, we notice it works really well to write with chalk on the pavement when it’s still quite wet ;-), who’d a thought. A large group of bystanders circle around us, trying to read, thinking we’re doing a performance of some sort. We enter into conversations, some are difficult to walk away from, some are awesome & encouraging, some require a lot of energy, some feel good, others not.
Rue du Midi is our end-point of the night. Everyone’s elated. This was so awesome. This is what we should do every day! …. This reinforces that things can change.
So Brussels… our message to you dear friend:
You DO have the power to end street harassment!!Reclaim the street, every day!
Your Hollaback!Brussel team
Up next for July/August/September: Self-defense classes with Garance and a Big Holla Party! More news soon!
I go to high school in SA, and for those who have not heard, several of the junior girls from our school decided it would be a good idea to film a video in which they offered sexual services in exchange for small amounts of cash. This video then went viral and has been seen in at least 10 other countries. Despite the fact that the girls are sorry, this has opened students from our school up to a whole range of abuse from the public. I personally have been yelled and at had eggs thrown at me (but missed) whilst other girls have been yelled at, had juice tipped in their hair, had money thrown at them and one girl was even grabbed by a guy, but luckily she managed to get away. These girls made a mistake, but it’s not fair that we have to suffer for what they did.
I used to work at a high-end gift shop. It was a great place to work for the most part, except for one person there who liked to touch the women’s tramp stamps, bump into them and place his creepy dirty-old man hands around their waists. We didn’t deal with him that much and most of us needed the job so we didn’t really contest. Then, I noticed him being prone to raging out on people. He’d call us morons and humiliate us in front of customers for kicks.
As my job prospects improved in other areas, I began to get more and more bothered by the man’s behavior. I’d change direction if I saw him coming my way in a narrow space. It got to a point where I would just replay the many times I recall him humiliating me but my fellow colleagues. One night after two nights on — one night helping the joint out because someone quit on the spot a few days earlier (something that happened a lot), I spied the tramp stamp molester putting his hand’s around a 23-year-old employee’s waist. He’s old enough to be her grandfather.Ick. When he decided to pick at me at 11 p.m. at night after three nights of exhausting work, that is when I had had enough.
Right after he humiliated me in front of a customer over stupidity, I informed him that he abused his employees. He didn’t understand why I would make such a statement. I didn’t bother arguing, went to the back and clocked out and didn’t look back. he had that coming for months. I was a fortunate one because I had other employment opportunities. I’m just hoping my other former colleagues get the opportunity to leave soon.
Typically, I can shrug off cat calling, because half the time it’s so ridiculous, they can’t be serious. My responses vary from laughing, a WTF look, and a cold “Don’t fuck with me, I carry a weapon” glare, depending on how threatened (if at all) I feel.
The best example of complete ridiculousness came one evening, walking through town with one of my girl friends. We passed a group of young guys having a conversation, when one of them turned around and said, “Damn girl, your hair’s like a fistful of fuck yeah!” and then resumed his conversation, as though we never walked by. We laughed uncontrollably as we continued toward our destination, wondering who he was talking to, what that was even supposed to mean. It’s even become somewhat of an inside joke to us.
Personally, I still believe, that in some few and far between cases, laughter truly is the best remedy 😉
Cross-Posted from HollaBack! Boston
Here at Hollaback!, we often talk about, well, holla-ing back! And we all agree that it’s important to speak up and to fight back. But we also agree that it’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will do that. We also agree that it’s not always safe, because the situation could escalate. And we know that some days you’re just too tired to tell yet another harasser to STFU. And we know that some people just plain don’t want to say anything! And all of those things are a-okay!
When we tell people that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to handle street harassment, we get into that victim-blaming rhetoric that we all hate so much. Recently, a guy responded to something on my Facebook by telling me that if I just “took control of the situation” by telling a guy to go away or [asking another male for help] that I could “end street harassment.” There is so much wrong with that line of thinking, but what I want to focus on is the idea that if I just acted a certain way, this harassment could and would stop. It’s the implication that I’m somehow to blame for the harassment because I didn’t react to it properly, which is no different than telling me that I should have worn something different/walked somewhere different/done something different in order to avoid harassment/rape.
Ruth Graham says:
The message behind this is simply this: whatever you need to do to feel safe, just to do it. You’re under no feminist obligation to shout ‘em down every time they shout up. But just know that you do not have to take it as a compliment, you do not have to feel that you have done something wrong, worn the wrong thing, or behaved in the wrong way. And most of all, you do not need to accept it. You are not wasting time if you make a complaint, and what they have done is not okay. 80 – 90% of women have experienced sexual harassment, and though we might describe it as ‘low level abuse’, it is still fundamentally wrong, and it’s time society started fully recognising that.
Read the rest of her post here.
So even though we love and encourage you to hollaback and to share your story with us on this site, we also want to assure you that, just like eating a Reese’s, there’s no wrong way to respond to street harassment. We trust that whatever response you choose is the right one for you in that moment, and makes you no less a part of our movement to end street harassment!
I’ve been on an online dating site before but I never experienced something so vile. I started an account with Okcupid last Thursday night. This man messaged me and expressed interest. I read his profile and he seemed like a nice guy BUT a shirt he was wearing was sexist, it had a silhouette of a naked woman on it. So I expressed my concern and figured well he will probably say “oh I’m sorry didn’t know that was offensive” because not many people know that kind of thing is sexist. What happened next was horrifying. He was so unbelievably gross. He asked me if I would “take his 8 inches” then when I refused he said “make me a sandwich!” then I reported him to the dating site. After I told him I reported him he replied saying that OkCupid would do nothing because he makes so much “revenue” for them by laying “mediocre girls” like me!
Things might have ended there with me blocking him. BUT the dumb ass used his actual name for his online username. A quick google search and I found his linkedin profile and where he worked in my community. It was a prominent business.
The next morning armed with the JPEG of our conversation and my laptop with his picture from OkCupid. I went to his place of work. I asked if he worked there, when the receptionist said yes, I asked to see the General Manager. When the GM came to meet me, I said I had a concern about an employee and he immediately took me back to his office. I showed him the picture and the GM confirmed that he was their employee. Then I showed him the conversation that I had with him. I said, I am concerned because his identity is so easily found that his online actions could be damaging your business. The GM said “OH I am right there with you, this hurts our image and reputation in the community.” The GM first stopped me and made sure that I was okay. He asked me over and over, are you okay, do you feel threatened? He was genuinely concerned for my well-being. He told me that he could only handle his behavior from an employer perspective, that he couldn’t change his personal behavior as much as he disagreed with it. But he was pissed and he took said he would face disciplinary action. Finally the GM said “I agree you are not the first woman this has happened to,” and his last words to me were “I’m so glad you came in, you are so brave.” That made me really happy.
So im walking home from my friends house and im on the phone with my mom telling her im almost home & as im talking to her a bunch of guys in a car blow me a kiss and say heeeey. So i keep walking & they drive away. I walk 3 more blocks , approximetely by my house & all i hear is BEEEEEEEEEEEP so i turn around because i thought there had been a car accident but its the guy tryna holla at me again & my mom panics and left the house to come and get me. it really pisses me off when guys do that, like seriously theyre like 30 & theyre tryna talk to a 13 year old girl ? like seriously? could you have a little more respect? Like i dont know why they think its gonna make us talk to them because it only gets us pissed off , & just because we’re petite at this age & pretty doesnt mean we should get treated like this, like we’re some sort of sex toy they can have when we dont even know them. I cant even go out in the streets with a guy staring me down or trying to hit on me/ & its sad that theres nothing they can officialy do about this bc once it happens its done, unless you get a lisence plate, but its just very disrespectful to the women population in this society, & when we go outside we tend to get scared of any guy that walks our way because its becoming a regular thing nowadays and it shouldnt be, not even if youre older.
Ok, so I have two stories.
Don’t touch me!: Ok, so I am a really small person, and I look like a little kid, even though I’m 26. I also have really nice red curly hair. People are constantly commenting on it and trying to run their hands through it. It annoys me so much that they think they can do it, just because they think I’m small enough that I won’t fight back. Unfortunately they usually touch it and run, before I can say anything. But this one day really stands out in my mind. I work in a wine store and I was helping a gentleman find a nice bottle of red wine. I showed him my favourite. He says, with a wink, “You must drink a lot of this to know it’s your favourite”. Ok, dumb, annoying, but I hear it all the time. He then proceeds to stroke my face with his knuckle. I was dumbfounded. Also being at work, I can’t exactly tell him to fuck off. He just paid and left. I told my co-worker about it, and she asked what he looked like so we can bar him. Unfortunately, I can’t remember. You’d think I would. Fuck.
Second Story: So, the other day I was going to the bus stop to go to work. It was really hot–around 37 degrees–and I was wearing shorts and a tight black t-shirt, and had my work pants in a bag so I could change. I stopped a stop a little ways from the bus stop I needed, because the sun had come out and I wanted to change my glasses to my sunglasses. There was a creepy guy sitting there (probably old enough to be my father) and he says “ooo, you have an iPod Nano”. I said I didn’t know. He says “Oh, you’re going to *love* what I have” as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an iPhone. I said I actually didn’t like Apple and only had an iPod because it was free. I then curtly said I had to go catch my bus and left. It’s not as bad as some stuff I read here, and maybe I’m making too big a deal of it, but I didn’t like the vibe. Plus I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened if I had been wearing baggy jeans and a hoodie. Thanks for letting me holla to you guys, even though I should have told him to go away!