Organization Combating Sexual Harassment Calls for JCOPE Investigation and Lopez’ Resignation
BROOKLYN, NY (08/25/2012) (readMedia)– Assembly Member Vito Lopez’ shocking and unacceptable sexual misconduct demands a swift and strong penalty. As an organization dedicated to combating sexual harassment, we call on Assemblymember Lopez to resign from the Assembly and from his chairmanship of the Kings County Democratic Party. We also call on the relevant law enforcement agencies, and the Joint Committee for Public Integrity to conduct the necessary broad investigation to assure New Yorkers, and other employees of the State Legislature that such conduct will not be tolerated.
If we allow Lopez to get away with sexual harassment without consequence, we will inevitably embolden harassers and silence victims.
We applaud the courage of the two unnamed employees of the State Assembly for coming forward with their complaints against a powerful senior member of the Assembly. By sharing their experiences, they have done their part to make the world safer for all of us.
It is often the case that those who feel empowered to sexually harass one or two employees are guilty of a broader pattern of behavior. It may well be that this is only the most recent instance of Assembly Member Lopez’ gross misconduct.
Hi everyone, I’m from Rio de Janeiro and I should confess that I feel ashamed of writing about this kind of thing. My family always tells me that I’m acting like a kid and that I need to grow up when I tell them that someone called something in the streets so I’m afraid that my situation might be so ridiculous compared to the other ones in the site that everyone will laugh at me. Even my friends laughed when i told them about these things, so i just gave up trying, but I’ll try to talk about it now here. I don’t know if anyone will read it until the end, since it will probably be a looong post, but there I go:
I just experience this kind of thing rarely because I’m not really beautiful, but it still happens.
The first time I was only 16 years old. I was walking together with my friends in the street and a man looked at me and said “what a nice big pussy!” and walked away laughing. It was the first time this kind of thing happened so the first thing I did was looking to my friends to see if they noticed it. I wasn’t worried about the man, I was worried that my friends would notice it and start making fun of me. Luckily, they didn’t so I feel relieved, but I still think of that day, I’m still ashamed of it and it always makes me cry because it really surprised me.
After that I was more or less prepared for when it would happen again, so even if I heard any whistles I would be just “nah…” and ignore it.
Now I’m 22 years old and it started happen again and more frequently because I have a job and I wear a uniform. It’s a normal uniform, but the shirt is tight so it make my body look really sexy. I actually like the way it makes me feel beautiful but, unfortunally, it also makes the guys think they have the right to say everything they want to me.
In my frist week working, an old man passing by told me “hi, beauty!” I was really happy because I saw it as a compliment and not everyone calls me beauty so I was all “yay, I’m beautiful!” and I had a really happy day. So naive. It happened a lot of times after that, but that was the only time it sounded like a compliment, because the next time it was “dirty bitch”, and then “let’s go to my home” and “so hooot”.
I even told my best friend about it and how I hated this kind of thing. Wanna know what she said? She said “stop it, I know you’re not really mad, you love it. Yeah, you always wanted someone to call you beauty and now people are doing it, so I know you’re happy, you just want to show off.” MY. BEST. FRIEND.
I learned how to ignore these people, but then the guy that works in the petshop near my house started to do it too.
You see, the petshop is located between my house and the bus stop, so I need to pass by it everyday, and EVERY SINGLE DAY that guy that works there would whistle to me. At first I just ignored it, but then he started to send me kisses too. The petshop has two front doors to the same area, so I pass in front of one, then a wall, and then the other one, so I always heard the whistles and the kissed two times. I told my mom and my co-workers about it and asked what I should do, but my mom told me to stop acting like an idiot, that there was a good thing if someone really sent me kisses, that would just mean that I’m beautiful. My co-works said the same, one even said “poor guy, he just wants to be your friend!” It was terrible to hear it, so I decided to not tell anything about it anymore until I was sure I was right.
Since I thought he could just be playing with the animals in the petshop, I decided to try something: I would pass the first door and, if I heard any whistles, I would stop in the wall and wait to see if he was sending it for me only or for the animals.
The next day, I did exactly like I’ve planned. As I walked by the first door, I heard the whistles, and then I waited in the wall. I didn’t heard it again, he definitely wasn’t playing with the animals. So I passed by the second door and I heard it. Kisses and whistles. I decided I would be strong and end it by myself, so I entered the petshop and confronted him. I said “can you please stop sending kisses and whistling at me?” He replied like “No, I was just playing with the birds, you’re mistaking it.” He said it laughing, clearly having fun. There was another guy nearby and he was laughing too. That made me cry. I started crying in the front of the guy, but I refused to go away. Even crying, I was still trying to make him stop, so I told him “do you know that I’m a customer here? My mom always come here with our dog. If you don’t stop it, I’ll call her and she will talk to the manager!”
Clearly I lost the fight as soon as I started crying, because now he was laughing a lot and saying “call her! Call you mom! Ahahahaha.” I probably shouldn’t use the “I’ll call my mom” sentence, but I did anyway and lost the fight, but I didn’t gave up and rushed home to do exactly what I told I was going to do. Yes, I called my mom.
As soon as I was home, I called her crying but still smiling. I was smiling because my mom was a really good customer and I was SO SURE she would go there and tell the manager what he was doing. So, I told her everything, that I confronted him and that I told she was going there to talk with the manager and…haha, she started yelling at me. That I was embarrassing her, that I was acting like a ridiculous kid, that, oh my god, how would she buy things for the dog now that I’ve made such a scene in the petshop?
I was so mad that we started fighting, me and mom. In the end, I cried all the night and my mom, she went to the petshop in the same day but she just asked the guy to forgive me for being such a kid. Oh, the good thing: the guy said “it’s ok, these kind of things happens sometimes” (I know because she told me later, and also said a “see? he forgave you, so don’t do these things again.”)
But I didn’t gave up (now, that’s the part of the story that makes me proud of myself). I saw too many Law and Order SVU episodes to know that this kind of thing can eventually turn into a bad situation for me, especially if the guy now knows that my mom thinks I’m acting like a spoiled kid. Since my mom wasn’t with me, I knew who would be: my dad. See, if they were calling me a kid, then I decided to act like a kid. The next day, when I passed in front of the petshop and the thing happened again, I called my dad crying and asked him to come home as soon as possible because something happened and no one would help me. My mom got really mad to see me calling my dad, but I didn’t care and told her “if you’re not going to help me, my dad will!”.
As soon as he got home, I explained him the situation. I told him about my co-workers, my mom, the guys laughing, everything. He just said “don’t worry, tomorrow you can go work normally because, when you come home, everything will be ok.”
I don’t know what my dad did, but the guy never dared to whistle or send me kisses again, and he also walks away fast when I pass by, so I assume my dad said something really hard to the guy, but he sure deserved it and I’m almost sure he won’t dare doing this kind of thing again with me or anyone.
After that I was really happy with the results and I definitely won’t let anyone do this kind of thing with me again. I was sad that my mom and friends didn’t understand, but I was happy I had my dad to help me.
It’s good to have someone to help you, but my dad won’t be here everytime to help me, and even my dad said “you’re a beautiful girl so this kind of thing will happen sometimes, you’ll need to learn how to ignore it.” So he also thinks it’s a normal thing.
The thing is, even if everything is ok now, I’m still ashamed. I cried in the front of a guy and he laughed. My mom said it was normal and that I was the weird one for complaining. My friend thinks I like it. And, oh, my co-workers…after everything was solved, I told them about my dad and that he scared the guy. The answer? They said “this way you will never get a boyfriend. Girls get boyfriends when a cute guy in the street tell them that they’re beautiful and they start to know each other. You need to stop being so boring.”
It’s sad to see a woman who thinks that I shouldn’t be mad at men harassing me because they are all potential boyfriends.
Ah, and about the guy who told me once I have a “nice big pussy”, I recently encountered him again here, near my work. I didn’t know him, so how do I know it was him? Because he said the same thing the exactly same way. If he happens to appear here again, I’ll finally be able to answer him properly, even if I cry.
Thanks, you who’ve spent your time reading it. I opened and closed this window a few times before I decided writing because I was really ashamed of these situations, but while I was typing I got more confident..
I’m happy I’ve found this site because, until now, I really believed that I was wrong. I really believed I did something wrong by calling my dad and making my mom feel unconfortable for a little thing that happens to everyone. I’m happy to know that there are other girls here that will understand my situation and that won’t make me feel bad for asking for respect, even if it’s just about a little thing like a whistle.
I was walking around the downtown area and was shouted at by three different men, separately. One of them asserted that I was “thick.” I felt as if I were being publicly shamed for having the physiological features I could not help but be born with. For the rest of the day I thought about those feelings of shame and humiliation. I felt powerless and depressed about my position as a woman in society. Projects like ihollaback.org replace those feelings of powerlessness with empowerment. I will be using this site in the gender class I’ll be instructing this semester in hopes of empowering more people, regardless of gender, to take a stand against street harassment.
Hey Hollabackers —
I’m at the National Sexual Assault Conference ! I got to meet Kelly Ziemann from Hollaback Des Moines and gave a presentation to the to 60+ professionals (some are pictured left) from around the country on how to infuse activism and the internet into their work. It was an honor, a blast, and they had tons of great ideas.
The soon-to-launch Hollaback Victoria is holding a launch party! It takes takes place September 6th, isfamily friendly, wheelchair accessible, and includes t-shirt screenprinting! Rad! Details are here.
Press! Hollaback Chennai got a shout-out in the Hindu, Hollaback Boston got a shout-out in the Boston Dig, and I got profiled in Killer Startups! Also, Hollaback got profiled as an “outstanding organization” by A Woman Phenomenally. YAY!
Hollaback NYC holds workshops and gets organized! Hollaback! conducted two workshops at the “Yes She Can” conference for girls on introducing the Hollaback! movement, exploring the meaning and impact of street sexual harassment in their daily lives and provided them with tools to an empowered response to street harassment. We also attended the Women Occupying Wall Street 4th Feminist General Assembly. Hollaback! participated in the assembly focusing on people of Color and joined the education system committee group meeting. We Will Not Be Silent organization also participated in the meeting and provided signs of their inspiring quotes for the group photo.
All this work is possible because you believe in us. So keep on keepin’ on!
HOLLA and out —
I am not big headed in anyway at all. I am 20 years old and I would say I have a decent, pretty face so as most women, I get the wolf whistle ‘alright love’ and the occasional ‘excuse me miss’.. The line that was used tonight.
So I have been dating a guy for a few months who lives in the area, had a nice meal out and he got me a cab to the station so I could catch my train home when we were done. Considering the time of the journey from the cab to the platform was about a 30 second walk, I didn’t think there was much chance of getting stopped on my way. However, I turn the corner and a black Merc drives past ‘Oi miss, excuse me miss’ I didn’t look up just kept walking past, past a little bar where people could obviously see what was happening. Next thing I know the car is right next to me as I am walking, I said ‘drive on I’m not interested’ when they really started going nuts, shouting horrible things. ‘You’re fat, stupid sket, go to the fucking gym, your just any fat mans chick, you’re not even wearing Loboutins’.
I was laughing in my head because yes I have a few extra pounds however I am not fat and even if I was than that’s my decision, I’m not a ‘sket’ I am extremely respectful and cautious and Loboutins? Oh sorry that there are a million of other shoes to choose from in the world and I do actually own a pair for nice occasions, not for Brixton!
Thinking about it now, I wish I would have gone up to the car and told him and his friends about themselves but to be honest, after being in an abusive relationship before, I knew the dangers and I truthfully, I was already intimidated and scared.
I understand it was late and it was Brixton. But that shouldn’t happen and I shouldn’t have to feel like this!
Guy catcalled me, then told me to get in his car
A man pulled out his penis in front of me, and looked me straight in the eye, on the 1 train going downtown. I got up and moved. He got off at Penn Station.
An older man exposed himself this morning as I was walking my dog on Benton and 40th Street, NW in Washington DC. He was wearing a white t-shirt, khaki shorts, and hiking boots and had a small back pack. I called and reported it to the police, please do the same if you encounter this creeper. I should be able to walk my dog in the morning before going to work without having to deal with that.
I was removing special parking signs for an event as part of my student job when a car pulls up and stops at the light. The passenger yells out to me, “Hey, do you come with the ‘Special Event'”? I said no and started to walk away and he yelled out, “Aw, man! That’s too bad!” I am not an item to be given away at any event. I am not a happy meal toy. I am a human being.