I was crossing the street on my way to Union Square when a man walking beside me asked about the name on my shopping bag. I told him it was a store. He asked what they sold and I responded “clothes.” He then became very angry saying, “Oh, you’re going to give me attitude? You think you’re better than me?” and then proceeded to call me names and threatened to “bash my head in.” He was shouting in a crowded street in broad daylight and all people did was watch. I immediately turned around and began walking the other way. He yelled “I see where you’re going slut!”and continued to follow me. I saw a security guard standing outside of a Bank of America and stood beside him until the man passed me. I was shaking and terrified.
This happened last week. I know it’s not on the street but it was still uncalled for. It happened in a grocery store. It was my first time in the store since I had just moved to the area. Not 5 minutes into shopping, I hear someone whistling. When I look up, there’s a male employee looking at me and making kissy noises. He does it twice. I immediately turn down another aisle and far away as possible. But since the incident, I have emailed the store who say they will discuss it with their employees. My husband was very angry when I told him about it. Now I’m just paranoid to go places by myself.
Man on a train approached me when I was sitting reading and repeatedly told me how sexy I was and when I told him I was going to meet my boyfriend he said ‘oh so you’re not going to fuck me in the toilets then’ it was in an empty train carriage at 22:30 at night I was terrified.
It’s been another productive week at Hollaback and I couldn’t be more proud of our incredible network of activists worldwide who work tirelessly to end street harassment in increasingly creative ways.
Check out People Magazine. The article was just published online and highlights our work in the “Heroes Among Us” series. To be published in a magazine with about 44 million readers shows how our movement just keeps growing bigger and bigger.
Here’s what our sites around the world have been up to:
In a very exciting move by the Scottish Parliament, a motion was passed in support of Hollaback Edinburgh‘s launch. Parliament also acknowledged Hollaback as an “influential movement.”
For the third time in two weeks, Hollaback Poland has appeared on TV. This time there was a whole program about Hollaback on the national news (watch here). Not only that but there is going to be a major piece about them in one of Poland’s biggest newspapers.
Timeout Istanbul named Kacie Lyn Kocher, Ezgi Çinçin, Nihan Güneli of Hollaback Instanbul on a list of Istanbul’s heroines! Kacie told Timeout, ‘Building a definition and providing examples of what street harassment is, showing what it looks like and describing how it makes you feel are the first steps to fighting it.’
Let’s keep getting the word out about street harassment. You all never cease to amaze me.
HOLLA and out,
I was walking to my bus stop when a man decided to give me the “once over” and made lewd comments about my physical appearance.
I work in southern Italy during the summer and ride the trains to get to and from various places. On a Saturday, when returning from a visit, I was standing on the train with a few friends and a group of 20 year old guys got on. They were annoying, like a lot of guys that age can be – you know, talking loud, pushing each other around, etc. I turned my back to them and just kept talking with my friends. They started making smooching noises (kind of an Italian catcall) – I kept ignoring them. Then I felt someone grab my back. I really couldn’t believe it – trains get crowded, so I didn’t do anything. And then it happened again and I realized that this guy was grabbing me. And for the first time in my life, I froze. I didn’t know what to do at all. Here I am in a foreign country and I have no idea what to do. My sister (who works in India) would talk about women being grabbed and worse on the train – she herself had been groped. I remember getting angry at her for not doing anything about it – not telling anyone. But, standing on that train, being grabbed – I didn’t know what to do either. I was angry at myself for not standing up. I was angry at the guy in my group for not doing anything (although, he told me later, he was just as shocked too). All I could think about was “what if I do something and it just escalates?” I hate that feeling of powerlessness. And then I thought, well, it was just a grab – these things happen. But I’m still mad about it half a year later.
I have experienced street harassment. Last year, I walked past an Italian restaurant in Watertown, near Boston, when two men hollered at me from the patio. These men looked about 75 years old, and I was 16 when this happened. They told me, “Hey girl! Come over here!” I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I really felt offended. I hadn’t approached them or talked to them or anything, and yet it seemed that they saw a young woman and thought I must be a good target. I was worried about what they would do. There were no witnesses, so all I could do was run away. Thankfully, I haven’t seen them since. But the memory continues to haunt me.
A man rushed up behind me on the car park escalator and ejaculated all over the back of my dress then disappeared . I wandered the streets in shock.
Two weeks later a woman was abducted from the same location and driven to bush land raped multiple times then her throat was slit and she was left to die. She is still alive today.
I regret not reporting my incident as it may have prevented what happened to this woman.
My best friend and I were staying in Surfer’s Paradise in Feb 2012 and we were walking to our hotel room around 1:30am and this weird guy roughly 35 came up and said he just arrived here and wanted to know the best night club. He constantly tried to get us in his car. Was very scary. Be aware.
This post, by Nicola Briggs, is part of a series of posts that we call Nicola’s Got Nerve. You may remember Nicola from this incident caught on camera which was viewed by more than 1.5 million people and which sparked outrage from all corners of the globe, bringing street harassment to the forefront of women’s rights issues. We admire’s Nicola’s ability to turn a traumatic event into focused action through writing and activism, and we think you will too.
Let’s consider this word in all its power for a moment, not only by looking at the first Merriam-Webster definition, “exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse,” but by another entry, which terms it as an “intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force.” The first one underscores the physicality of the act, but the second one gets to the heart of both definitions, with the word destructive. I think most people wouldn’t hesitate to agree that sexually abusing another person is a deeply abusive and destructive act; but if this is really the consensus of our society, why then the confusion in the court system today?
Recently, the New York State Court of Appeals dealt a real victory to what law enforcement terms, “subway grinders,” by allowing another abuser, Jason Mack, to get off almost scott-free for his masturbating against a 14-year-old girl on a packed subway car in 2002. The Court of Appeals ruled that the perpetrator could not be charged with a felony as the action itself wasn’t deemed “violent.” Because the amount of physical pressure applied to another person’s body during a sexually abusive act like rubbing or fondling is “soft,” or “gentle,” does that mean that it isn’t a violent act? This justification is incredible, especially to anyone who has ever been the target of such abusive behavior. In fact, what Mack and others like him have done can actually be considered violent on more than one level: Physically: Doing this to someone on a crowded train, bus, etc. without another’s consent makes the action possible in the first place, especially if one cannot move away from the abuser. Emotionally: Whether the victim knows what is happening at the moment of the abuse, or when she sees her stained clothing in the aftermath. And finally, spiritually: Most targets of sexual violence do not feel comfortable coming forward and speaking about the experience, either to law enforcement or even their own families. Doing so can bring stigma and shame which in many instances, a woman or girl can carry with her the rest of her life, with serious effects to her self-esteem. To argue against any of these known facts is to turn away from the victim’s experience without empathy.
By international human rights standards, violence against women not only comprises obvious behaviors such as battering, but also includes acts of sexual abuse, whether perpetrated behind closed doors or inflicted out on the street. Why then, at the state level, are we once again parsing words? We, as a culture, continue to dance around the fact that sexual abuse, in the forms of street harassment, and most virulently, unwanted sexual contact with another individual, is at the core a deeply rage-filled, anti-social act designed either consciously or unconsciously to strip the target of dignity, power, and worth as another human being. To use someone like an object, in an abusive manner, is the very portrait of violence. And I believe that to ignore the fact that the vast majority of offenders are men, and that the victims of these crimes are women, points out the glaring sex bias in the court system. If the Court of Appeals has effectively taken the teeth out of prosecuting a sex abuser, what hope does society have to send a message to avert these traumatic situations in the future?
Violence. We, as Americans, have got to expand our understanding of this word to encompass the full definition of it, if we want to truly say that our great, shining society does not, in fact, condone violence against women.
The world is watching.