Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I just experienced sexism in the workplace, and I stomped it out. Success!
I work in the upstairs area of a building with several other co-workers. Most of my colleagues upstairs are male (this will be relevant).
There is only one printer upstairs, with approximately thirteen people using it on a daily basis. As a result, the paper in the machine runs out fairly quickly. I refill the machine about twice per month. In order to do so, I must retrieve the paper from a supply closet downstairs. In my two years of working where I do, only once has another person retrieved more paper for the printer. Twice, if you count another person who only needed more paper for their own print job.
I usually hear at least one comment from someone as I’m going back upstairs with the box of paper. It’s heavy, but I’m able to carry it for the short time it takes. The comments are mostly about how a man should be carrying it, a man should be helping me, etc. These comments come from both men and women, who have been conditioned to believe that women are fragile and weak. Brainwashing is a scary thing, folks!
I normally respond to these comments with a sarcastic laugh, a “Riiight,” or something light. But today, I didn’t! Because sexism is a load of crap. It really is.
Whenever I go into the supply closet, I usually need to tell one of my co-workers downstairs that I’m taking a box of paper, so that they can then inform the person who is responsible for replenishing the closet. This person is a man (this will also be relevant).
Well, today this person was going into the closet, so I went directly to him to ask if I could get in and take a box of paper. He warmly obliged, and unlocked the door for me.
Here’s how the dialogue proceeded:
Him: “You just need some paper?”
Me: “Yeah, just one box of 8.5″ x 11″. Ah, here it is.” *crouches down to pick it up*
Him: “Whoa, you’re going to take that whole box upstairs? Can’t you get one of the guys up there to get it?”
Me: *pauses mid-crouch without making eye-contact* “What, am I not worthy or something?”
Him: “Nah, it’s just… What are you, 135, 130?”
Me: “Hell if I know, man.”
Him: “And that box is about 45 pounds, so-”
Me: *cuts him off* “Yeah, I got it. I do this all the time.”
Him: “Well why don’t you just take the reams up separately?”
Me: *laughs* “Nah, I got it.”
Him: “You can just take half of the paper up today, and then come back for the rest tomorrow. How about that?”
Me: “Nah, I’m good. I need the paper today.” *picks up the box and starts walking out*
Him: “Okay… Well I’ll close the door behind you.”
His tone was incredibly infantilizing when he was asking me to take half of the paper today, and half tomorrow. It was like he was trying to negotiate with a child. Too funny.
It did shut him up, though. The ratio of a person’s stature to the weight of an object is not a valid argument. It was strange how he continued to come up with anything to deter me.
The funny thing is, everybody wants to be the hero when it comes to seeing a woman carry something heavy, especially up stairs. They all want to be saviors and help the damsel in distress, but they can’t be bothered to get off their asses and do it when it needs to be done in the first place. They could be the ones going downstairs for the paper initially, but it’s better for their ego to be a white knight instead.
NOT WITH ME. Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you that you can’t do something because you’re a woman or girl. Trust in yourself enough to know that if you need help, you will ask for it. But otherwise, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO.
I have been followed from train car to train car on the NYC subway. When the train was in motion, he would sit there, stare at me, and openly masturbate. I eventually pretended like I was going to stay in my seat at a stop but jumped up and ran to another car at the last second. He tried to follow me but did to make it in time. He pounded on the train windows as we pulled away. I was terrified.
So I was walking to an ice cream store in a cute town in Massachusetts with my parents, my aunt, uncle, and cousin. I see a pickup truck driving in our direction with some guy in a snapback sticking his head out the window. He actually yelled “nice legs” out of his car while looking at me while I was with my family. Disgusting.
I have experienced two encounters of verbal harassment at this same spot. It is right around the corner from my apartment building, and I always walk down that block to go to the nail salon. Today, I was honked at by a significantly older male as he was waiting at the red light and I was crossing the street. He continued to honk at me as he drove down the block. Luckily he didn’t follow me. The other encounter happened just last week. A group of boys around my age (17) were riding their skateboards down my block. I have never seen them before, so I figured they were just passing by. Then one of them starting calling out, “Hey girl can I get your number” and “You’re really hot,” among other things. One of his friends rode up to me and told his friend to stop. However, I was already so nervous that I ran home. I should not have to feel like this when walking home.
I remember the first time this happened to me. I was in 7th grade coming home on the bus near the end of the school year. I usually sat with my best friend (a guy) and there had never been any problem with the three older boys who sat behind us all the time. That day my friend wasn’t there, and a sat alone with another girl across from me. Also that day, it happened to be getting pretty hot, but because of the dress code, I had to wear a jacket over my dress. Like any normal human being would, I took of my jacket on the bus.
Before I knew it, one of the boys behind me started to say things like, ¨Damn, nice tits¨ and ¨Glad your boyfriend isn’t here,” which in my position was pretty scary. I turned around and told them to fuck off, which got me the response, ¨Wow, that pretty little bitch has a vocabulary.¨ Not only was this happening, but one of the other boys sat down next to me. He didn’t do anything, but he was a little too close for comfort. After all of that, I told no one but the male principle, whose response was pretty much ¨boys will be boys.¨
So yesterday me and my sister when on a bike ride to go check out a couple houses we had seen for rent. Once we got to the first house on our list we hopped off our bikes and looked around real quick. As we were about to hop back on our bikes, a car crept up to the side of us, and the people in it rolled down their windows. Inside were 5 men gawking at us… my first thought was to grab my pepper spray, but then I thought 5 big men…who knows if they have a gun or something more effective than my little can of pepper spray, and clearly my sister and I can’t take on 5 men. All we could do was try and keep walking and hope they would leave. Finally once we reached the end of the street, the guys realized they weren’t getting anything. They slowly turned and drove off. I was so scared thank God my sister was with me. I could only imagine how much worse I would have felt if I were alone.
At the mothership, we marched at Pride this past weekend and looked fabulous while doing so. Also, we co-hosted a webinar with Women’s Health Specialists about self-help!
Here’s what HOLLAs all over the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Durham & Chapel Hill participated in PuNk CuTs eXtRaVaGaNzA, a super rad fundraiser for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Hollabackers shaved their heads to support and raise money for the center. Too cool for school, guys!
Hollaback! BMore co-hosted Make Your Own Quilt Square, an event where people were able to share their stories with rape/sexual assault and also to show their support for survivors through quilt squares. This event was part of The Monument Quilt. Pics from the event can be found here!
Hollaback! Italia marched at three Pride Parades this past weekend: Milan, Venice, and Turin! Way to show your support guys!
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio was at the annual conference Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. They spoke about the intersectionality of race and sexual assault along with ways to bring women of color leaders into the movement.
Hollaback! Berlin hosted My Name in Not Baby! this past weekend, and not only were they able to engage in discussion with others about street harassment and ways to prevent it, they also engaged in powerful dialogue about collective resistance. Great job, guys!
Great job as always HOLLAs! Til next week-
HOLLA and out!
-The Hollaback Staff
Double whammy! I was walking to the Y this morning for lap swimming. As I walked past a laundromat, a man stepped out the door and mouthed “Wow!” as I passed. Whatever, I ignored him. On my way back I walked past the same laundromat. Two men are standing outside talking. One of them stared me down as I walked by while still talking to his buddy. I’m just trying to get to my workout. Arg!
I decided to take a walk to this 24-hour coffee shop down the street from my apartment to visit a friend who was working. It was late at night, so I was of course being careful and paying attention, but the walk is only about 2 blocks. I don’t want to be too scared to walk two blocks. But apparently, I ought to be, because on my way there some men driving by leaned out their windows and yelled, “Damn!!” while leering at me. I glared at them, and thankfully they kept driving, but I didn’t feel safe enough at that point to keep going to the coffee shop and then have to walk back later, so I just turned right around and went home.
I don’t understand the need of some people to assert the way they feel like that. Do they not get that it is an intimidation tactic? Or do they get it, and they think I need to be frightened? Are they just curious as to what the reaction will be? I really don’t understand why, because I’m a woman, I ought to be scared to walk two blocks down my own street.
My cousin is getting married next month, and I am unable to attend due to distance and money issues. I decided to go to the drug store on the way home from running errands to pick up a nice card for her and her fiancée.
On the way home I heard a voice shouting “Hey! Hey!” I turned to see a man in his mid 70s walking towards me. I figured he was going to ask for directions and waited for him.
He gave me a smile and said “Your summer outfit makes my heart beat fast and I want to f*** you!”
I frowned and shook my head “no.” When I turned to go he repeated it and began to follow me.
I flat out lied saying I had a boyfriend and he was waiting for me.
Even then he did not give up! He demanded proof of this boyfriend and asked why I didn’t have an engagement ring on? He wanted to know where I lived among other things.
Finally I said I had to leave as I had people waiting for me and got out of there. When I told the police about what happened they said there was nothing that they could do. They said it’s not illegal to talk to people on the street.
It makes me want to never leave my home. I’ve been harassed by men many, many times in this town. If I had the money I’d leave. I don’t feel safe here.