I was walking home from a friends house, I was 15. A car pulled up alongside me and a middle-aged man got out and said ‘Hey, can I touch you for a few minutes?’ I stopped and looked at him, and kept walking, completely ignoring him until I saw him drive away. Later on the same walk two men (teenagers? Maybe 20?) started following me and yelling ‘hey baby, come here.’ I ignored both of them, too, and they got angry and started yelling ‘what are you deaf? get over here.’ Luckily there was a fence between us and they gave up after following me for a couple of blocks. These are just two of the many, many times I’ve been harassed.
As I approached my bus stop and waited for my bus to work, two incidents of sexual harassment occurred within seconds of each other. First, a group of young men in a car, waiting in traffic beside the bus stop, waved, smirked, and shouted at me. Then, as I reached the bus stop, an older man who was also waiting at the stop approached me. We were the only two people around, but the stop is beside a high traffic road and it was in broad daylight. The older man, a stranger, began a conversation with me that started out innocently enough as we talked about the weather. He then told me that I looked very nice and I was very well dressed, and asked if I was a model. He kept telling me how great I looked and that I should be a model, and when the bus finally arrived at our stop he said he felt flattered and honored to be riding the bus with a model. He also asked questions about my personal life, how old I was, where I work, etc. I did begin to feel uncomfortable, because we were the only people around the bus stop and I could not leave because I needed to use the bus to get to work on time.
I had know him since I was baby his wife was my mums best friend, he was my fathers. I had just turned 16 he was 54 I was working for him, he owned a small spray painting business, it was only ever me and him there.
At the begging everything was fine we were just getting work done, but after a couple of shifts he would stand really close to me and put his hand on my bum, when ever he stood next to me or talked to me he would always be touching me. I just brushed it off as just friendly affection since I had know him all my life. I told my mum thought just for precaution. The next shift he kept on talking about if how I ever got chemicals on me I would have to remove all my cloths and he would have to wash it off me. I found that creepy. The next shift I had to work I sat on paint thinners that were on the seat I only sit on and which he told me to sit on. It was burning my skin but I was to scared to tell him so I just dealt with it. He asked me to help him paint somthing, he looked at me and said I was about to do somthing inappropriate I just laughed, it’s what I do when I’m uncomfortable, he placed the hose witch vibrates between my legs so it was against my vagina, I just laughed. He then continually made jokes about it “don’t have to much fun with that” “I know when you do that you are having way to much fun at work” I had never been so uncomfortable in my life. I went home and told my mum everything and that no matter what I was not going back. She wanted to take it to the police and talk to his wife about it but I made her swear to serequcy I don’t like dealing with things so the less drama we let it cause the easier it would be for me. I hate myself for just laughing but I just didn’t know what else to do. I’m still 16 and I still think about it all the time.
There is a man who works as a cleaner in my apartment block. Since I moved here, I’ve had a couple of interactions with him; held the door open for him a couple of times, greeted him when I saw him, helped him pick up a load of paper after somebody had trashed the complex’s lobby. Basically, I treated him with basic decency. Not excessive kindness or flirtation; just basic decency. When I took the lift the other day to the ground floor, I saw he was in there and greeted him briefly. As the door closed, he began stroking my arm, and told me that there was a girl who looked very like me in a shop he goes to. He then started touching the ‘beauty spot’ (mole tbh) above my lip with his thumb, and said that she had that too. He was standing very close to me, and as we were in a lift, I was pretty scared. I am on the 10th floor in my apartment block, but have taken the stairs ever since.
Happy Friday Hollas!
Here at Hollaback! HQ we keep on spreading the word that catcalls are not cool, especially for fun holidays like Halloween. This week we attended a couple of great events. CJ, our admin and program assistant and Rose, our intern, went to the Press Conference Calling for Comprehensive Sex Education Now at the City Hall. And our Interim Executive Director, Debjani, Natasha, our IREX Fellow, CJ and Rose went to the screening of Out in The Night, an amazing event co-organized by the Audre Lorde Project and the CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). The #NJFour inspire us to be even more fierce in fighting street harassment!
And in Hollaback! around the world:
Akirah Robinson from Hollaback! Pittsburgh wrote an interesting article that you should definitely read if you want to know more about street harassment and the different effects street harassment has on women and LGBT folks.
Hollaback! Vegas is calling everyone who wants to contribute to their amazing zine called The League of Extraordinary Feminists to write to them and grab this great opportunity. For the December 2015 issue, they are looking for submissions of artwork that connect to: Human Sex Trafficking, the 1-year Hollaversary, Consent, or Active Bystander Intervention.
Hollaback! Twin Cities is looking for new site leaders. So if you are sick of all the catcalls and harassment on the streets in Twin Cities and wanna fight for women’s and LGBT folks’ safety, don’t wait any longer and apply!
Well, that’s it for this week! Have fun and remind people that costumes are not an invitation for catcalls!! Happy Holla-ween!
Until next week,
Holla and out!
One day I was waiting in the bus stop that I usually waited at and while I was waiting I was standing in front of a shop. A man that I did not know kept on staring at me. At first I thought he wanted to go to the shop so I moved but then he still kept staring at me and moved closer to me , at that point I was getting really scared he was not smiling or anything like that just looking at me constantly. The clothes I was wearing were not revealing just some jeans and a long sleeve shirt with a jacket over. I did not know what to do I just walked away and he started stalking me when i noticed this I ran and didn’t stop until he was out of sight and walked all the way home.
It has been an exciting week here at Hollaback! HQ! Our Interim Executive Director, Debjani Roy, held a training for NYPD Transit Lieutenants. Rose, our Intern from England, attended the YWCA’s special workshop celebrating A Week Without Violence with the exploration of diverse healing modalities. The whole Hollaback! HQ team took part in the celebration of A Week Without Violence with a touch of purple.
And in Hollaback! around the world:
Big news for Hollaback! Vancouver! They were nominated for Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award, which is given to individuals and groups that have made outstanding contributions to crime prevention and community safety. Congrats Vancouver! You rock!
Hollaback! Croatia participated at the First International Conference on Sexual Violence in Croatia and their important work was mentioned by Prof. Liz Kelly, as a great contribution towards the global fight against sexual violence and generally violence against women.
Hollaback! Italy had an awesome event this week! They were in Torino, in Casa Arcobaleno, together with Gruppo Giovani Torino Youngsterland, to talk about street harassment of women and LGBTQI persons. They also had a chalkwalk in Torino sharing important messages around the city. Great job Italy!
Hollaback! Vegas was at the Spring Preserve promoting their amazing zine. Contact them if you want to see their wonderful zine!
Rebecca Faria of Hollaback! Halifax guest lectured at a Dalhousie University English class about digital storytelling, community building and activism.
Hollaback! London is asking #wherearetheposters. They are trying to push their City to commit to posters on the public transport network. Their message is very important and we should all support them. In order to do that, take a selfie on public transport, wherever you are, and use the hashtag #wherearetheposters if you believe women and LGBT deserve safety while traveling.
Stay tuned for more news next week!
Holla and out!
A van full of boys passed by me and the driver yelled “wanna bang us?” out the window at me. He was going at least 10mph above the speed limit. No, I don’t want to bang you, and you don’t look cool driving your Mom’s minivan.
I was coming out of a large chain gas station, and there was a group of men hanging around an SUV who started to make sexual comments about my body. I ignored them and kept walking to my car. As I passed, I heard one of them say, “Oh, look at her get that power-walk on.”
Then another of them began to follow me and call after me. At this point, I was alarmed. So I turned around and told him to “Get away from me.” He kept walking toward me.
“You get away from me now,” I shouted. “Or I’m calling the police.”
I was safely on the road as I pulled around and from my vantage point could see there was actually a large group of them hanging around that SUV and neither going in nor coming out of the store. I pulled over, looked up the number of the store chain, and called their manager who promised to have the cops come and get rid of them. I wish I could have done the report myself, but at least the message was sent.
I was waiting to be served at a bar. A guy came up and stood really close to me, acting creepy, and said “oh mmm damn you are so sexy, I’ll buy you a drink and you can come dance with me gorgeous”
I ignored him and carried on looking forward, not in the mood to even reply. He waved his hand right in front of my face saying “hey don’t be so rude, why are you ignoring me I offered to buy you a fucking drink”.
I said “I don’t want you to buy me a drink and I don’t want to talk to strangers, I’m just here with my friends”.
So then he said “well that’s fucking rude it’s just a drink. Don’t know why I even started talking to you in the first place, you’re ugly as pig shit” and leant over the bar to shout at the barman “don’t serve this bitch she’s rude as fuck”.
So you called me sexy and gorgeous until I didn’t want to talk to you then I became a bitch and ugly as pig shit. And I was the rude one?