Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, SUNY Oneonta, Tucson, Twin Cities
Recently, I was able to use Hollaback!’s Web site as an educational, inspirational and cross-generational tool of empowerment. And they said the Internet wouldn’t last.
The conversation in question happened between a 19-year-old college student and me, her 30-something cousin. I listened as she described street harassment she receives almost daily — at her campus, near her home, in all sorts of public spaces that should be rightfully hers.
She’s already learning that they’re not.
She was asking me how to avoid such situations. How to stave off the “catcalls” and creepers. What to wear. What NOT to wear. Where to go. How to get there. How to come back.
My young, idealistic cousin is already learning that her public world will be a maze of constant avoidance, broken by gauntlets of abuse.
Simply because she’s a woman.
And she wants to walk outside.
And it fucking breaks my heart.
I couldn’t tell my cousin not to worry, that such harassment won’t happen too much — because I know it probably will. I know by the time she’s my age — or much sooner — she might have learned to see every man on the street as a threat, lost count of the times she’s been verbally harassed or worse, and feel an extra stress every time she’s simply walking alone.
I couldn’t tell her these things wouldn’t happen. But I could tell her how to confront them. I could tell her how to HOLLABACK!
So, instead of telling my cousin to ignore street harassment — which is the advice I got at her age — I talked with her about WHY some men harass women on the street, why our culture tolerates it and ways to safely confront the behavior.
Hollaback! gave me the tools to have this conversation. I was able to reference the Web site — which my cousin now reads — as well as email her several street harassment articles I’ve found online, through Hollaback! or on my own.
I think the conversation helped her.
I hope so anyway.
I know it helped me. I know it made me feel better that I had something other to say than “Well honey you just gotta deal with that cause it’s just the lot of women, us givers of life and the heart of societies. Random strangers get to harass us on the street! ”
I think too many women were told such things in the past. They were taught to be passive, how to play defense in a never-ending game. But a new generation of women are taking the offensive, speaking up, and unafraid to fight this war.
Women like my cousin.
She called me the other night with a proud tale of how she’d silenced a harasser on the street.
Yep, that’s my girl.
Not a victim. Not an object. Not a passive, pretty little thing.
But a newly minted foot-soldier with the weapons to HOLLABACK!
To help build a world where every girl learns at a young age that they don’t just have to “take it,” donate to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. Only 8 days to go!
This happened a long time ago. I grew up in a pretty, quiet middle-class neighborhood in the middle of the Bible belt. My mom was always watchful. My best friend and I rarely played in our front yard, but this one day we took our dolls out front like this once in our whole childhood. Usually my mom wouldn’t let us play alone out front. A jeep drove up with a slightly built youngish white guy who asked us if we’d seen his puppy, and if we wanted to go help him find it. We were terrified and right away ran into the house. But DEAR GOD!!!! He could have put his car in park and thrown one of us into the back seat, but luckily, he sped off. We never saw him again. That’s one brush with a rapist that I hope I never have again.
The second creepy incident happened at a park with my mom. My mom was walking the track around the small park as me and the same friend played. This was a very hot summer day. We noticed a guy get out of his car, and smoke. He stared at us intently and he was wearing a thick black coat, and black boots. And it was hot outside. He smoked a few cigarettes. He had dark sunglasses on. He watched us. My mom noticed and decided to sit in her car, which was next to hers, and she started it. He had no children with him. He left as soon as my mom got in her car. He left.
Third story. And these are all true, and luckily for us end happily. This SAME friend and I were at her house and went to a park. Alone. Her mom let us go. Stupid, don’t let your kids go to parks alone. These boys that were 12 or so said really gross sexual things to us, but never attacked us physically. We escaped, mostly unscathed.
I just don’t get it. Why are there so many creepy, evil and sick men out there???????? WHAT THE FUCK? It’s so sad. It makes me so angry. So women let’s get angry, fight back and shame the assholes!!!
To help build a world where street harassment is unacceptable behavior, donate to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. Only 8 days to go!
My friend and I were eating at Java House, on the corner of Queen west and Augusta Ave. in Toronto and my friend noticed a guy taking a picture on his cell of a woman walking a few paces ahead of him. We watched as the woman went into a Second Cup coffee place on the other side of augusta and he seemed to watch her go in and wait outside. He paced around and tried to act like he was about to cross the street but when the light turned green he just looked around. Then he looked inside the second cup again and walked on past it further East on Queen.
After dinner my friend and I walked East on Queen and my friend went to catch a street car going East from Queen and Spadina. The man got on the same street car as her and looked around. The woman was on the same street car too and when the man saw her, he sat down beside her. It was obvious they didn’t know each other. When the street car reached College they both got off at the same stop. She started to walk down the street and he ducked into a convenience store. My friend stayed on the streetcar and then texted me about what she’d seen. I suggested she try to report the incident to the police. She called and got the brush off. The police officer said ” we can’t do anything about it now. Next time call when it’s happening” She refused to let my friend file a report or to call a cop car out to that area to see what was going on.
For the record, the stalker was a man about 6’2, average weight for his height, and had ear length wavy hair and kind of a square jaw line. He also had a short goatee or a beard and appeared to be in his early 30s. The woman appeared to be 20s or 30s, with long brown hair down her back, wearing a black tank top, dark knee-length pants, a black shoulder bag and sunglasses on.
I just really wanted to document this since the police took no interest and this guy will probably do something like this again. Makes me feel sick and helpless.
To help build a world where street harassment is unacceptable behavior, donate to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. Only 8 days to go!
There are many more instances that I can speak of, but this one is what I always think of first. I was in Virginia Beach for a cheerleading competition, and I was walking down the main road with my father. I was on crutches with an air cast on one foot, wearing gym shorts & a tank top. As my father and I were crossing the street, a young man drove by and screamed, “I wanna have your babies!” My father was horrified and asked me if that man really just asked that. I didn’t know what to say- all I could say was yes, and changed the subject. I’ve put up with a lot of things being yelled at me in my life, but in front of my father that was just humiliating and I felt awful that he had to witness his “little girl” verbally abused like that.
I’ve been yelled at with sexual things by men my age (19) all the way to old men that look like they’re in their eighties. It’s disgusting and disrespectful, and it ruins things for those few good men out there. I’ve been in situations in which guys are really just trying to be friendly or helpful, but I expect the worst at first because of past experiences.
This is a wonderful campaign and I truly hope it makes a difference.
To help build a world without street harassment, donate to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign today.
BY CLAIRE LIGHT, cross posted from her blog.
Up front I’m telling you that this is about Hollaback’s “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign, to create an online and offline movement to end street harassment. I’ve donated and I hope you’ll consider doing the same.
Boy, it’s been a long time since I posted. Actually, the last time I posted was right around the time that I moved back to San Francisco. And I’m so glad to be back.
But I don’t tell people that one of the reasons I’m so glad to be back in the city is that the amount of harassment I encounter has gone waaaaaay down. The main reason I don’t mention it is that the reactions of many people break my heart. Too many people, upon being told in general that I get a lot of harassment, act uncomfortable — with me! — and don’t offer me any sympathy, much less engage in any discussion. I’m talking about abstract conversations here, where there’s no immediate danger, and all I’m doing is communicating.
It’s so much worse, then, when the harassment happens in front of your friends or social circle and they do nothing or act uncomfortable with you, as if you were the one who had done something wrong. I know that those situations can be sometimes scary or emotionally heightened. But think about the general emotional orientation of someone who doesn’t, when the scary moment is over, automatically offer help and sympathy to a friend who has just been verbally assaulted.
I mean, c’mon, people! How hard is it to say to your friend who was just harassed, “I’m sorry you had to deal with that,” or ask her “are you alright?”
It’s those simple offerings that can make the difference between you being part of the problem, and you being part of the solution. Either you kick a friend who’s just been kicked, or you blow on her bruise and offer her salve. Why is that such a hard choice?
The immediate sympathy and help is key, but what’s an even greater act of friendship is listening, discussing, and helping your friend to process the harassment, to understand it, contextualize it, and help render it less powerful. Treating your friend as a thinking, feeling adult who is capable of understanding what has happened to her, and capable of insight, is a really important part of being an empowered woman in a society that often treats us as meat.
And the greatest act of friendship — and righteousness — of all is intervening on the spot, and standing up to the harasser for and with your friend.
This last one — standing up for your friends — should be automatic. If it isn’t, maybe it’s time to think long and hard about how you were raised, and what choices you learned to make to survive. Yeah, I was a bullied kid and I threw other outcasts under the bus if it would save me … when I was in grade school. But now I’m an adult, and every failure of mine to protect and support my friends when they are attacked is my failure, not theirs. And yes, as an adult I’ve failed many times, or been weak or stupid in my support. But I’m glad to say that there have also been times when I was mindful enough to succeed in supporting and backing up my friends. And I strive to be that person every day.
I’m thankful for those fierce friends of mine who have done all of these things: Jaime, Patty, Cyndie, Robynn, and others whom I’m forgetting right now. (There have been so many incidents over the years, and when I was younger I deliberately forgot about it when friends failed to support me, so I managed to also forget when they did support me.)
And I’m also remembering people who shall remain nameless — some of them people I greatly respected — who stood by and did nothing. And, though I forgive quickly, I’ll never forget. As MLK said:
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
You’re not alone — in being harassed, in feeling helpless, in not knowing what to do. But tackling street harassment as it happens in front of you is your responsibility, as it is the responsibility of every citizen of a free state.
Please donate to the Hollaback “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign, and start (or continue) to get everyone’s back on this.
I was on the phone and a man came up behind me and grabbed my torso and quickly walked away before I could say anything. I was on a business call so I couldn’t just stop my conversation. I am furious!
I’m a fairly traditional southern woman, raised and homeschooled by extremely conservative parents, and sheltered from the world. Or at least I was. I started college at Tarleton State in the fall of ’09, and a lot of things change. I’ve learned a lot about harassment, first hand, that I hope none of my friends never have to learn. I could write about getting groped on my way to a club/bar, or screamed at by some idiot in a truck on my way home, or even a more violent incident that happened later that year, but I won’t. Instead I give you this little jewel, the incident that truly showed me how comfortable these ‘normal’ men were with their behavior, and just how acceptable it really was. I was attending a womens volleyball game with some friends, supporting our school in the regionals I think. Some guys behind us started harassing the opposing team and screaming some very vulgar things at them. A male friend took offense to that behavior, and warned them to quiet down. When they started being rude to him, I piped up. I don’t remember what I said but it must have made an impression. They were quieter for the rest of the match, and we watched in peace. Afterwards, I refused a ride home and decided to walk, because my dorm was less than half a mile away and the night was beautiful. I didn’t even think twice about my decision. I tried to call my boyfriend of the time who lived out of town, to enjoy a walk and talk under the stars. Just as I heard the busy tone, I began to hear yelling. It was three of the drunk men from before, trying to get my attention. I tried to ignore them, they were being just as vulgar as before. I was terrified. They were large men, and at 5’2″, i’m rather not. They continued to follow me as I asked them to leave me alone, and fought off tears. I could smell the alcohol from 5 feet away. I finally snapped when they asked my name again, and told them “It’s get the fuck away from me”. They just laughed and asked if it was “mexican”. They followed me to the door before losing interest. There were half a dozen other people in the parking lot when they started harassing me. Talk about turning a blind eye.
If you want a world where no one EVER turns a blind eye to verbal or physical violence, donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. We’ve trying to raise another $15,000 in the next 8 days and we need your help.
We’ve only got 9 days to go and over $15,000 more to raise to reach our goal! We need your help to make sure that no one ever has to Hollaback alone. Support our campaign here, and check out the ABC article here!
I saw this man’s boner on my way home from work.
I noticed him touching himself in front of me on a crowded train (the Brooklyn-bound F around 6:50pm 6/27/11, between Jay St & 4th Ave.) and looked down to see his pants unzipped, with the shape of his hard penis sheathed in nothing but gray boxer briefs. He kept trying (unsuccessfully) to pull his shirt down over his “situation.”
I was shaking too much to say anything. All I could do was snap a photo. I regretted not speaking up the minute I got off the train. I even contemplated darting back on and yelling “Attention women on this train! This man has his pants unzipped and cannot keep his hand off his dick!”
As a woman, it’s an internal battle of wanting to call the asshole out while also not wanting to put yourself in danger. Clearly a man who’s deranged enough to touch himself in public is capable of worse.
At this point, all I can do is hope that he gets the exposure he deserves, someone braver than me recognizes him, and gives him a swift knee to the balls.
[UPDATE: This story has gone viral and was covered by the Village Voice!]
My 2 friends and I were sitting and talking at the Manorhaven Pool in Port Washington, NY …..The 3 of us are all Chinese-American with our kids nearby in the pool…A tall 6’4” drunk man came over and started harassing my friend who had earlier reprimanded him for trying to smoke in the pool area which is forbidden….He started asking about her ethnic origin: “Are you Korean? Are you Japanese, etc.?” and then he started to imply that if she was an illegal immigrant that he could possibly turn her in because he had “the power” and that she was someone “without power”…He flashed a badge and said that he was a Federal agent of some kind. My other friend and I watched him and waited for him to get bored and walk away ….meanwhile, I held up my cameraphone to him and took his photo (Thanks, Emily for making me feel fearless and quietly confident!)….
Later, he went away (he was there with his 2 daughters and maid and her daughter)…and started talking with the lifeguard….While he was chatting up the lifeguard, I went to the front desk and reported him…and they said they were aware and getting ready to close in on him…..
Thank you, Emily…I think in the past I would have felt more afraid and alone and embarrassed…. and somehow felt maybe I didn’t belong there and that maybe I had done something to bring this upon myself….It felt empowering to have my friends there at my side and all the other moms and their kids there….and knowing that I was not alone….There is safety in numbers…even if they weren’t all there, just knowing that what he was doing was called “harassment” and that he was the one in the wrong….and that other people would have reported him in the same situation was enormously comforting….. I will try to e-mail you his photo….
I was going to a friend’s birthday one night in a decent neighborhood and got a little turned around when I got off the subway. I walked around, trying to get my bearings and figure out where I was going. There wasn’t anyone around that I could see. As I was walking around, two guys were walking along the sidewalk towards me, obviously drunk. They started to talk to me, asking me nonsensical questions. (Nothing sexual, just weird, like “Do you like mermaids?”) When I wouldn’t respond, the one grabbed me by the arms and asked the question again. I looked him in the eyes and said, “DON’T you touch me!” He immediately let go, and they staggered off laughing.
I was so shaken up and taken aback by the whole incident. More than anything, though, I was proud of my gut reaction and forceful hollaback to let these guys know that what they did is totally and completely unacceptable.
I still do not remember how old I was, somewhere between 6 and 9. I felt safe; I was in a card store with my mom at the mall that I had been going to for years. It was familiar and I felt safe. A man and another person, I cannot remember if it was male or female, squeezed passed us as they were exiting the store while we were at the register. The man touched my genitals, I believe, without looking at me, probably to avoid detection. I didn’t even understand what was happening, let alone know what to do. I was holding my mother’s hand but she did not see and I never told anyone.
Luckily that is the only time I ever experienced physical sexual harassment. However, this is a lesson to parents that it does not matter the age of your child. They need to know that there are bad people that could hurt them and what to do in such a situation as the one I experienced. Just because you love your child unconditionally does not mean everyone else will keep your child from harm. Bad things CAN happen to them. Had my mother explained to me that if someone touches you in any way that you should scream or tell someone immediately, perhaps this pervert could have been caught and been stopped from hurting other children. That is something I still think about today. Are there other victims that he hurt in the same or even worse ways? Children need to know what to do! Otherwise perverts will continue to go undetected, able to hurt others, perhaps someone you love and cherish.
This is the first time I’ve ever had such an incident, although this occurred close to last winter, I am still weary of shopping near City Hall.
Some background info, I am 18 but look way younger than I am, I can still pass for 14 if I wanted to. What happened was, I was coming out of a store from shopping alone and was waiting at a corner to cross the street to get to another store, a 40-something year old man at the corner stared at me for a while an mumbled something about the weather, I smiled and thought nothing of it. He then turned to me to make even more small talk and then asked me if he could walk with me. At that point I got the bad feeling but since I was in a busy part of city hall an was heading into a store, I didn’t think to find help. In the store he kept on asking me questions and talking about himself, apparently he “works for google” and had just gotten a haircut down the street. After leaving the store, I headed towards a even busier street just in case, and he kept following me for 2 blocks after that, asking me more questions like “where are you from”, “where do you live”, “is your family here?”, “how many siblings do you have” eventually he asked if I had a boyfriend to which I said yes and he still had the nerve to ask for my number. After saying no, he finally left me alone.
Although my situation is nowhere as bad as the others, the key points that makes this not an innocent situation either is that this guy was obviously old and he did not know my age, I could have been 14 years old for all he cares and he would have still persisted in attempting to get my number. Any decent human being would know how suspicious it looks to follow a young girl around trying to get their number. Not to mention the specific questions he asked seemed to be trying to determine whether I was one of those Asian international students attending a school in NY on my own or not. He was the epitome of those creepers that try to take advantage of foreign students.
I was traveling for work and grabbing a drink at the bar next to my hotel. I was alone, so I was making conversation with a couple next to me for a while and everything was fine, then they left to go catch a concert. When the couple left, a man who had been next to us for a while started to talk to me. He seemed friendly enough but within 15 minutes he was grabbing my thigh and arm and trying to get me to go back to my hotel with him. I clearly told him I was married and NOT interested. I pushed his hand away and quickly got the bartender to get my check. While waiting for my check, he grabbed my leg and thigh again. I pushed him away he actually said “your husband doesn’t have to know, you’re in the big city now” Was this guy joking? I had pepper spray primed for action in my pocket. I paid and left the bar looking over my shoulder and ran into my hotel and told the hotel staff that I thought someone was following me and that I wasn’t expecting guests so not to call my room or anything if this guy had followed me. The worst part is that this man claimed he was a former NYC police officer working private security for some other company now. I was very distraught, I’ve never been harassed like that in NYC and I travel there for work all of the time.
I work in midtown east on certain days. I tend to walk around in the area to find a place to sit and have lunch late afternoons, most likely walking down 2nd ave in the 40′s. Today, as I round the corner of 40th and 2nd, there is a construction crew with some of the men up on a scaffold and a guy on the ground with a flag, warning people about the construction as they walk by. As I approach them, flag guy, already having spotted me and locking his sights on me from a few yards away, begins making loud, lewd comments directed at me as I walk towards them. It’s raining and I have my umbrella, so I turn my umbrella sideways to block his view of me as I walk by him. He, not knowing what to do then, actually shuts up. By this one action, I actually shut him down for a few seconds. My action was very pointed and very obvious. It confused him and threw him off his game. Ha! I’m sure most women just grit their teeth and bear it from him. Well, not today.
I go into a pizza place nearby, have my lunch and then exit. As I approach the construction crew on the return trip, flag guy sees me coming and is already warming up that loud mouth of his. As I pass I again turn my umbrella sideways blocking his view of me. This pisses him off. He says “Bitch!! Blocking me!! Fuckin’ bitch! All day long, baby! All day long!!!” I just continue on my way, but you know… I’m happy to have pissed him off and to have come up with just the thing to put a “dent” in his routine, even if only for a few moments.
I will take my camera with me to work next week and walk the same route again at lunchtime. If he is there and starts with the loud catcalling, which I’m sure he will, I am snapping a pic of him and will let him know that I’ll be posting it on a sexual harassment website. I fight these guys daily, and here is the next one on the list…. will keep you all posted.
I’ve lived in New York for several years, and am no foreigner to cat calls and general verbal harassment that follows me down the street often. One time, however, really sticks out in my mind. I was on the 1 train heading down towards Lincoln Center in the spring. I was going to try and rush tickets for the opera. I sat down on the subway in one of the seats that is only next to one other seat. As we passed each stop the seats were filling more and more, and eventually a man slumped into the seat next to me. He wasn’t a huge man or anything, but it was clear that he was taking up a lot of room- more room than necessary. What’s more, he was holding a pile of coats and jackets in his arms, which made him take up even more room. A few of the sleeves and edges of the jackets were spilling off of his lap and onto the edge of mine. I’m generally not a very controversial person- I usually would rather have myself experience a little discomfort than cause a confrontation, so I didn’t say anything to this man about his coats or the fact that he was taking up a little extra room on the seat. As I sat there, counting down the stops until I got to Lincoln Center, I thought for a moment that I felt something touch my leg- under my leg, under my thigh. I shifted uncomfortably, and wondered if I had imagined it. A minute or so passed, and again I felt something touching under my thigh, near my butt. This time I was sure there was something there. I turned to the man and simply yelled “HEY!” and he feigned confusion, but retracted his fingers and the coat edges that were on my lap, which I now realize were there to provide a cover for his hand moving underneath them. I remember sitting there next to that man seething with fury. I felt more angry in that moment than I ever have. Eventually I turned to him and said: What you are doing is ILLEGAL. He said: I don’t understand! I replied: AGAINST THE LAW. People were staring at us. I continued to sit in fury, and when the train came to a stop I stood up and got off even though it wasn’t Lincoln Center. I was close enough that I ended up walking the rest of the way, in a blind rage. By the time I got to Lincoln Center I was about 10 minutes too late in line, and I had no chance of getting tickets- this was really the salt in the wound. I’ve thought about that incident many times since and wondered what I should have done. I know am ready- if anyone ever is encroaching on my space I will not hesitate to say something. If someone ever gropes me on the subway again I will alert the conductor and ask that they call ahead for the police.
One of the worst parts about the incident was realizing that this man was planning it- He set out that day with an unnecessary number of coats, came onto the car, found a girl sitting by herself, and attacked. He has probably done this any number of times, and probably continues to do it to this day. Next time I’m fighting back by calling the police.