I was walking on a crowded street in midtown Manhattan when a man blocked my path. He said, “how you doin’, gorgeous?” I responded, “that’s street harassment! You should be ashamed of yourself” and then walked away without giving him a chance to engage further. Hollaback has taught me that I should call street harassment what it is since many people don’t realize that what they are doing is perpetrating violence against women.
Sharing Hollaback’s! mission and encouraging the Save Club (Student Againts Violent Experiences) at Lompoc High School to be active bystanders in their school and community.
A year or so ago my friend and I were walking to her house late at night (we were both fifteen then, btw), when a car slows down behind us and begins to slowly follow us at the same pace we were walking, a couple of yards back. The guy looked pretty normal, in his early fifties/late forties maybe. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, we stopped walking for a second to see if he’d drive by us. Instead, he stops his car and just sits there staring, so we immediately started walking again, but much faster, and he started driving behind us again. He was the only car on the road given the time at night, and we were walking on this street that runs over a highway, so we couldn’t turn or run to any houses until we got off the bridge, and to make everything even worse, the battery of her cell phone was dead. We didn’t want to start running because then he’d just follow us in the car, and there’s no way we’d outrun a car, though we both agreed if he got out we’d book it and start screaming. There was still some space in between the car and us and we were both walking so fast we were practically running anyways. I have my knife out, open, with the sleeve of my sweater sort of covering it just in case. We got off the bridge, and he kept following us. He didn’t say anything to us, but every time we looked back (which was like every two seconds) he was staring right at us. Finally, after about ten or so minutes of walk-running, my friend put her phone to her ear and really loudly pretended to be calling the police, telling the battery-dead phone where we were, and that there was a car following us, and then when she started reading off the license plate, he sped off. The second he got out of sight we ran the rest of the way to her house. We didn’t call the police (her parents didn’t know we’d been out, and we had to sneak back in). I don’t even want to think about what might have happened had it just been one of us, or if he pulled a gun. The whole thing still pisses me off- it wasn’t like he was harassing us verbally, he was just following us, two teenage girls, in the middle of the night, in his car. I kind of wish we had called the police, because that guy was obviously planning something or just some sicko creep who gets his kicks scaring the shit out of teenage girls.
I was groped on the bus today.
I come from NYC where cat calls are bad, my comfort was there are people everywhere. Now I’m in Pittsburgh and I feel so vulnerable I don’t like to even leave my apt. I am always nervous walking, at bus stations, and on the bus.
From the creators at Slampow! Productions:
“Cat calls and wolf whistles shouldn’t be a city girl’s soundtrack. “Meat” is a role reversing comedic short video that parodies raunchy and obscene street harassment experiences felt by women. Although this 3 minute skit is clearly an exageration, it speaks to the absurdity of vocalized objectification.”
I’m leaving the store, continuing onto my car, which is parked far down the parking lot. A group of men and women that are loitering around the front of the store start to make loud calls. At first I don’t realize they’re talking to me, but then they get louder and enunciate more. I have blue hair, so one man says, “What are you, a fucking oompaloompa?”
I decide to keep walking. He calls out something else. This specific person is obviously talking to me and either wants me to feel shame, or to respond to him.
So I turn around, and I close half of the distance, and I ask him if he wants me to punch him in the fucking face? I see that he is sitting on a structure, with his back to me, turned halfway around so that he can harass me. There are two silent women and two more silent men standing next to him.
I continue on and tell him that he is a hate filled piece of shit for treating a stranger the way he has. He tells me to ‘calm down’.
I tell him to go fuck himself, he said, “I wont be fucking myself…” and then I continue onto my vehicle.
Why people feel the need to be such raging pieces of feces, I will never know, but WAY TO BE CLASSY.
Thanks to Nevline Nnaji for making this and sending it to us. You can find more of her work at www.yellokatproductions.com.
Dear Hollabackers —
Every week that I compile these I am more amazed than the last week at what our network is able to accomplish. This week is no exception. Here’s what our team has been up to this week:
Research on street harassment released at Cornell!. Last Friday we were joined by Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilmember Ferreras, and some incredible local nonprofits working to address street harassment including STEPS to End Family Violence, New York City Anti-Violence Project, Black Women’s Blueprint, Green Dot Campaign Quentin Walcott, co-executive director, CONNECT, and Transport Workers Union, Local 100 to release two studies on street harassment, available here. Special thanks go to my mentor, KC Wagner, Cornell’s Director of Workplace Issues, for hosting the event and conducting the research. The event was covered by WNYC (NPR).
The party was a RIOT! We raised $491 at our drag show at Stonewall Inn last Saturday! Special thanks to our board member, Raphi Rosenblatt, for representing us at the event, Frostie Flakes for inviting us to come (and putting on an amazing show), and all our fans who came out to support us!
Women and Power: We were there! Strong women, including Hollaback’s International Fellow Shahinaz El Hennawi, were brought together this week to attend The Omega Women’s Leadership Center conference, Women and Power: What’s Possible. Women demonstrated how they are using their power and passion to make real change by sharing their stories.
Justine Dowden: New International Movement Intern! Justine has experience working for the UN and at women-led NGOs around the world. She is excited to begin helping support Hollaback chapters worldwide.
And if that’s not impressive enough, check out what our site leaders around the world are up to this week:
Hollaback Victoria is featured in Monday Magazine!
Hollaback Des Moines Inspires Frat to Raise Funds for Hollaback! We are so grateful to Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (PIKE) at Drake University in Iowa who raised $497 for Hollaback! Superstar site leader Becca Lee from Hollaback Des Moines gave a presentation at the frat which inspired the fundraiser. Thanks guys!
Hollaback NYC teams up with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio to push for legislation which would protect straphangers from “subway grinders,” a.k.a those who intentionally rub against passengers in a sexual way. Read the article here.
Hollaback Poland was on the news twice this week. Site leader Greta Gober appeared on news channels to speak about her chapter’s efforts to end street harassment. Watch the clips in Polish here and here.
Hollaback Baltimore released two new advocacy videos addressing the intersection between street harassment and homelessness as well as featuring testimonials of women who have experienced street harassment. Favorite quote: “We need male allies to understand that regardless of how we dress we’re not asking to be assaulted or raped. We’re only asking for sex if we actually ask for sex.”
The time to end street harassment is now! Let’s keep this movement moving.
HOLLA and out —
Yesterday, when I was walking towards the train after a meeting in a gentrified and generally considered safe neighborhood in Brooklyn, a young white construction worker started harassing me. He was walking right toward me, arms outstretched, asking me where I was going looking so beautiful. This made me feel threatened and irritated–I was already in a bad mood.
“Women are not just objects to be ogled at.”
“Who’s ogling you? No one’s ogling you! I don’t even like white chicks! I don’t even like white chicks, you ugly bitch!”
“It’s mutual. Get a life! Get a life!”
Of course, those last two transcribed lines were largely yelled at almost the same time, but he did walk away defeated. I don’t care if I’m called ugly right after being called beautiful by a racist sexist construction worker. I felt empowered, and I hope that he doesn’t just assume one can harass any girl walking down the street–she might be a “crazy bitch” like me!