This afternoon in Istanbul while traveling on a very crowded subway with my husband (and trying to enjoy my honeymoon!), someone put their finger in my butt (over my skirt, thank goodness) and wiggled it around right before jumping off the train at their stop. Utterly disgusting and degrading.
To set the tone of this conflict, please know that I am a women with short hair. I was wearing a simple t-shirt and lounge style shorts.
I was walking late at night to do some laundry downtown in Reed City. As I was nearing the laundromat I noticed a group of men gathered outside the backdoor of a bar, at quite a distance as to obscure their features, who presumably were smoking cigarettes. I was a little nervous at this point. I became hyper aware of statistics of violence against women and felt that it might be reasonable to stop slouching. Perhaps if I look confident then I won’t get attacked, I thought.
The closer that I got to them the more nervous I felt. I began to tread quickly and quietly, while hoping for the best. There was no point in turning back as I was halfway there. Besides, what if I had it all wrong? Or what if I ignited an animal desire within them to pursue me?
Just after I crossed Old 131 & The Pere Marquette Trail, one of the men yelled “Hey, girl or guy?”. I instinctively ignored him and kept walking. This was not a battle worth engaging in despite my deep feelings about rigid gender roles and appearance. As they disappeared behind a set of buildings lining the block I heard him say, “Yep, guy.”
Thankfully nothing else happened. This may not seem like a big deal to some but I was scared that I was going to get assaulted for appearing differently than I should. It happens occasionally, especially to people who appear at all queer. I called a family member to give me a ride home after frantically texting a few people online for support. Those moments waiting for the arrival of my family member were frightening. I was seriously afraid for my safety, as the laundromat was deserted and the men were at a bar down the street.
All in all, I do feel like a dunce for walking so late at night alone. I likely won’t do such a thing again all though I already don’t. I just assumed that it would be safer since it was a small town and I needed to squeeze laundry in real quick before the next day.
I also feel conflicted about my appearance. I usually dress in a way that I find comfortable and admittedly don’t strive to appear like a woman “should”. The incident made me feel insecure about my appearance and whether I should change the way I present myself. I decided not to change anything, yet doubt still lingers about whether I should dress more feminine.
I feel that this incident has also changed the way that I feel about Reed City. I don’t feel like it would be safe to walk late at night around downtown anymore and I feel less welcome in the community even during the day. Rude people don’t disappear in the daylight.
I was interning at the Broward County Public Defender’s Office this summer and every day I would sit outside and wait for my aunt to pick me up (I’m 16, but I don’t have a car). Anyway, it was hot and sunny, so I took off my jacket, but I was wearing a conservative blouse and knee-length business skirt, so I figured it didn’t matter. I had some M&M’s in my hand and I was eating them one by one when a guy got really close to my face and said “Hey, baby, wanna give me some of your M&M’s?” The only thing I could say was “What?” I literally could not believe what just happened. The guy repeated himself, just to make sure I understood, and walked away. I was too scared to do anything, especially because we were in front of a courthouse and I thought he might be some sort of criminal. After that, I never took off my jacket again, no matter how hot it was.
My friends and I traveled down to Provi for some clubbing tonight. We found a paid parking lot just down the street. It was incredibly convenient, and we were able to run back for anything we needed. Around 12:30, decide it’s time for a cigarette break. Out of the four of us, only two smoke, so my friend and I decide to run back to the car (suv) for some water.
She and I are sitting in the backseat, and it’s hot as anything so, my door is open. This guy (probably 40’s, scruffy) squeezes by the door, so I pull it in and apologize. So he’s by the front of the car and is just kind of staring at me, making creepy eyes and smiling. I start talking to my friend as if we’re engrossed in a conversation, hoping he’ll just leave, when my friend noticed her started to come back to my door. I whip it shut, and then he stands at the front of the car again, looking in and being seriously f**king creepy. I kind of ducked behind the driver’s seat so he couldn’t really see me, and then he starts staring at my friend, and sloooooowly pacing back and forth, still with the f**king smile. At first I hoped he was waiting for someone, since it’s a parking lot and he was carrying a package or something, but he doesn’t stop staring, and looks like he might approach us again. As we went to lock the doors he walked away.. Slowly, of course, and he kept looking back at us with the same unnerving expression on his face. When he was far enough away, we locked up the car and power walked the f**k out of there.
This was probably about three minutes, but I have no clue what the f**k made him think that was okay to do.
A year ago, I was walking home from a convenience store a block away from my apartment. I didn’t notice the guy trying to get my attention until he had spiralled into rude words, and until he rode up next to me on a bike. He was insulting me and yelling at me for being ‘rude’ by not responding to his opening remarks and for not being willing to have a conversation with him at a bus stop some time previous. I tried apologizing, making excuses that I don’t like talking to strangers, etc. His responses were things like calling me stuck up, calling me a ‘b**ch*, and continually insulting me and yelling. He told me not to bother calling the police. He followed me all the way down the block. I was getting really frightened and had told him repeatedly to leave me alone. Finally, in my complex’s parking lot, he yelled that “people like me” should be “executed” or “sent to Mars”. I broke and ran at that point and took a circuitous route back to my apartment. Then I called a friend and the non-emergency police.
The officer told me that since the man hadn’t told me he would kill me, just that I should be killed, it didn’t constitute a threat.
I was too afraid to practice bike riding outside for a week and went into full panic mode when I had to go to that intersection again.
I didn’t drive or even bike at this point and lived alone.
Because of your ongoing support, we’ve had a rockin’ week! Here’s what’s new:
Street harassment expert Vicky Simister joins our team for the month! The UK Anti Street Harassment Campaign was founded in 2010 by Vicky after she was harassed and subsequently assaulted on a North London street. When the police were called, Vicky was told “boys will be boys” and that she had brought about her own assault by not accepting her harassers “compliments”. Since then she’s won tons of awards and has become a spokesperson against street harassment. She’s working with us this summer on our campaign against campus harassment, and we’re so honored to have her!
“A Shit Sandwich of Oppression.” On Wednesday, Vicky and I were interviewed by Kamau Bell for his new show on F/X called “Totally Biased.” After learning about the root causes of street harassment, Kamau responded, “so basically, it’s a shit sandwich of oppression.” Vicky and I fell immediately in love. A photo of the interview is above, and the show premiers on Thursday, August 9th.
Brooklyn Magazine thinks were “culture changers.” OH YES WE ARE. Brooklyn magazine is honoring us with a bunch of other artists and creative types, because like them, we’re changing the culture [that makes street harassment OK]. To celebrate our success, they dolled me up and put clothes on me that cost more than my monthly salary. Seriously.
Thanks for your ongoing support, and if you get a chance this weekend: tell someone about Hollaback. No one deserves to deal with street harassment alone.
HOLLA and out —
Cross-posted with permission from our friends at the HEALTHY MASCULINITY SUMMIT
The test of knowledge is not based on how much you know but on how you act when you don’t know. This is an idea based on writings by John Holt, an education scholar,. He wants to make sure that curiosity doesn’t disappear during teen and adult years, that as children age they hold onto their desire to ask questions.
The Healthy Masculinity Summit, taking place this October 17-19 in Washington, DC, will be a place for this approach to knowledge – for questions and curiosity. The summit kicks off the Healthy Masculinity Action Project (HMAP), a two-year initiative designed to raise the national visibility and value of healthy masculinity and support emerging male leaders taking sustained action in communities across the country.
Here’s a start to questions that can be asked: What does our experience of masculinity and the experiences of others tell us about unhealthy and healthy masculinity? Can healthy masculinity help men and boys understand the importance of stopping street harassment? Can healthy masculinity be about both safe streets and men and boys’ mental and physical health?
There are a lot more. So bring your questions to the summit and join Men Can Stop Rape, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Men Stopping Violence, Coach for America, Women of Color Network, and A CALL TO MEN in asking where healthy masculinity might take us.
Save money. Early bird registration for the summit ends August 17. www.healthymasculinity.org
Rikera interned with us this summer, and she was amazing. She wrote and published HOW-TO guides, added resources to our site, cleaned up our press section (which was overwhelming!) and garnered over 1000 new facebook fans and twitter followers. She also made this video, talking about her experience. Thank you for everything, Rikera! The movement to end street harassment is stronger because of your contributions.
Sitting towards the back of the bus, a young boy came on and sat in front of me. When the woman sitting across from me left, he moved to sit directly behind me, on the back seat.
During the trip I felt extremely nervous and uncomfortable for reasons I could not quantify. I was too frightened to look behind me, and assured myself that nothing could really be happening because there were people on the bus – what I failed to register was that everyone was sitting at least two rows in front of me, with even less visibility than I had. In an extreme state of anxiety, I eventually left the bus at my stop and looked back to confirm that I had made the whole thing up.
I had not. I looked behind me and saw that the boy had been masturbating behind me for the 20 minutes he had been there. I do not blame myself for not acting upon my discomfort, or feeling violated and sick upon reflection. I am myself a teenager, and when I got home, crying, my mother called the police and we took action.
This experience has had a profound effect on me. I find dusk (the time it occurred) on public transport and alone incredibly unsettling, often feel uncomfortable on buses and second guess the people sitting around me. I sometimes feel irrationally frightened of people who look like this boy. This behaviour is unacceptable.
I was in a busy pub, walking to the bathroom when a middle aged man, one who looked old enough to have a daughter my age (18) groped my ass through my knee length dress (all sane people know what I was wearing has nothing to do with it, but that’s just for the skeptics who speak of “tiny hemlines” or whatever)
I paused, and thought for a moment “Am I going to just let this happen?” I considered that there were police directly outside the door of the pub, so I turned round, grabbed the guy by the collar and threw him towards the door ( I was about a foot taller than him) His friend got angry and told me to “just move along, he didn’t do anything” My boyfriend (who had been at the bar when it happened) came over and obviously was very angry and challenged the guy. The bouncer/security came over and asked us to leave, when I told him what happened he said “I didn’t see it” basically meaning it didn’t happen. He kicked out me and my boyfriend.
I was very angry about this, as you would understand I couldn’t believe we were the ones getting kicked out the pub for it. I was so frustrated, and angry I started crying. My friends told me it wasn’t a big deal, they didn’t understand why I even cared, “it happens all the time to everyone”. I was so upset by the injustice of it all that I approached the police and told them what happened. They took a statement from me and arrested the guy. They even took my dress for DNA testing, and checked the CCTV cameras but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. I just hope spending the night in the cells taught him not to do it someone else, and I hope he had to explain to his wife & kids exactly why he spent the night in the cells.