racial discrimination, Verbal

Lavanya’s Story: Too bad your compliments are racist

This happened a while ago (in 2005). At that time I lived next to the university campus which was rather a safe place. That evening on my way home from the nearby grocery store, I was carrying a heavy bag of groceries and another bag of papers and books from school. I was walking along in my own muse when I saw a  guy in mid-20s on his bike coming towards me. I didn’t think twice about it. But then as he got closer I found him staring at me. As he passed me by, he yelled, “Too bad you are not white.” I have been catcalled many times before and since then on three different continents. But I am always caught by surprise and disgusted by it. This time though, I was just too perplexed by the comment to even figure out the meaning right away.

Later when I told my roommate and a couple of white friends about it, they said it was perhaps meant as a compliment on my good looks. Right, an unsolicited “compliment” on my appearance while putting my skin color down.

2 comments 
Verbal

J.H.’s Story: A Memorable Memorial Day

The night before Memorial Day, I was walking to the bar to meet my brother for some celebratory drinks. I walk past these two guys, one of whom sizes me up and starts saying really vulgar things like “you’re looking juicy tonight”. I walk past but then thought of hollaback and felt like I needed to call this guy out on his behavior.

So I turn around, walk up to him, and say, “What did you just say to me?”. He’s like “I’m just letting you know that I like what I see”. I went off and told him that he should not talk to me like that. That he should not talk to anyone like that. His face turned and he immediately started saying “you better walk the fuck away, you stupid bitch”. I called him out further and repeated that he couldn’t talk to people like that, and would he want someone talking to his mother or sister like that? He went on with his tirade of insults, calling me “A fat cunt”, where I retorted that he really needed to look in the mirror before he calls anyone that. He went on saying homophobic stuff, telling me that I was a fat dyke, that I was stupid cunt…etc etc” I finally just walked away and told him to go fuck himself. He shouted at me “Go eat some pussy you fucking cunt”. I shouted back that “That’s more than you’re going to be doing tonight, asshole!”

I was shaking with anger at the end. I’ve never met someone who turned into something that ugly so quickly. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to both call him out and publicly humiliate him like I did. I only wish I got a picture of his face.

Anyway, in conclusion, I know I shouldn’t have stooped to insulting him back, but it felt so good to call him out instead of kicking myself later on for not having said something.

3 comments 
HollaZine, The Movement

Nicola’s Got Nerve

He said, She said, in New York City

This is the phrase most often used to describe the implied non-credibility of an allegation of sexual assault. It suggests that an accusation of this nature is either false, or dubious at the very least, because of a lack of evidence to the contrary. Now I must ask you, how many women throughout history have had to go through this special brand of humiliation after being targeted for attack? How many women do you personally know who have had to go through not just the trauma of the event itself, but then the callous aftermath? I know plenty, and thank the stars above that I was not numbered among them when I told my own story to law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office, back in September, and then the public, in November. But consider a recent event in our city:

A drunken woman was helped into her apartment by two New York City police officers, whom she later accused of raping her. Her incapacity aside, it was highly suspect for these two individuals to not only help her inside, but “cuddle” with her while she lay half-clothed in an altered state, and then to be seen (by security cameras) going back into her apartment no less than three times, with one of the officers accused of standing guard outside. Three times?!? I know I’m not alone in my disgust at this situation.

And say that the young woman did “come on” to one of the officers. We all know that inhibitions can slide when one is inebriated ~ but what were the officers’ excuses? As police officers, presumably in full control of their own faculties at the time, they needed to at the very least be concerned with even the appearanceof impropriety. In short, they left themselves open to this type of allegation by being alone with her, in the private confines of her apartment. So either A) The officers were obtuse beyond belief, or B) He/they did assault her. One of the officers did actually admit later in the trial to having protected sex with her, but witnesses who saw the young woman earlier in the evening said that she was extremely drunk and was not sober enough to consent to sex. In fraternity houses across the nation, there have always been young men who’ve seen fit to take advantage of their tipsy dates, and women know to be wary of going into a situation like that (which, by the way, still would not excuse an assault under those circumstances by one iota). But the young woman in question here was in the comfort and presumed safety of her own home. So what really happened here?

It seems to me, as well as prosecutors, that if she was that ill, an ambulance should have been called, or that EMS should have been present for the subsequent visits to her. While New York City police officers are highly capable in many respects, and do receive basic medical training, I think a hospital or at least a clinic would have been a safer environment in which to handle alcohol poisoning, if that was indeed the case.

I, as well as many others observing this case again feel afraid for being at the mercy of the “He said, She said,” and perhaps we will never know what really transpired. I know what I feel about it ~ and it’s not good. In my opinion, there is one more chance at justice here, with the woman’s $57 million dollar lawsuit against the city, and the officers.

one comment 
Verbal

Maude’s Story: A car full of harassers

This happened to my best friend, not me, but I have submitted personal stories here before. I was on the phone with my friend when this happened. We are both fourteen.
She lives in a fairly suburban community. She was walking down to street to go to the neighborhood’s annual festival a few days ago, and happened to be talking to me on her cell-phone. I heard this happen. She is a bit heavier than me, but very beautiful, dresses well, and wears makeup far better than I.
As she was walking, a car full of four guys in their early twenties screamed at her “FAT BITCH!” and drove away laughing.
This is not acceptable at all.
It’s disgusting that a fourteen year old girl who’s already self-conscious can have this happen to her in a seemingly “friendly” area.

no comments 
The Movement

A Message to Catcallers

SUBMITTED BY CARRIE DAVIDSON, reposted from Carried Away

There hasn’t been a single day when I’ve walked home this week and haven’t been catcalled at least once. For the first two days it was funny. By the third and fourth, it became expected.

Wait, expected? In what world is it okay to expect to be sexually harassed?

Yes, catcallers. Sexual harassment. You’re not being funny. You certainly aren’t being charming. There is nothing innocent about it.

What goes through the heads of these men? I don’t mean “I’m too good for them, so what are they thinking?” because, honestly, the guys in my age range are usually attractive. Until they open their mouths.

I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’d like to think that the thought process is something like, “My, that is a rather attractive young lady. I have taken an immediate fancy to her, and would like to get her attention. I’m going to approach her casually and strike up conversation.” But, because of some brain malfunction that’s attributed only to the Y chromosome, they accidentally say something like, “Yo, sexy! How you doin’?”

I figure it’s one of two options: A. They legitimately think that calling to a girl like she’s a dog will get them action or B. They like seeing young girls walking alone down the street look uncomfortable, because they think it’s funny.

There are so many things wrong with option B, so many ways that it contributes to the sexist attitudes of our current society, that I don’t even know where to start.

So don’t call me “Red.” Definitely don’t call me “white girl.” Let me walk the three minutes from the subway to my apartment in peace.

If, on the other hand, you’re actually an incredibly insecure boy who just doesn’t know how to handle a situation, here’s a tip. Walk up. Say “hello.” Ask my name. It’s not rocket science.

no comments 
Verbal

Jenny’s Story: “I’m glad I at least got a chance to put him in his place”

I was on my way to visit my boyfriend and stopped at a grocery store to pick us up some drinks as a surprise. It was warm out and I was feeling really good about myself that day. I was wearing a knee-length sundress with a denim vest over it and sandals with small heels.

As I was getting back into my car, a guy in an SUV pulled up behind me and called, “Excuse me, how much do you charge?” Furious, I ignored him and continued loading my things into my car. He persisted, calling, “Ma’am?”

I spun around, looked him in the eye, and yelled, “More than you could afford!”  He looked sheepish and mumbled, “Oh…” before driving away.

It made me so furious. I was having such a nice day and was in a good mood and feeling good about myself, and in one fell swoop, some misogynist jerk decides to make me feel trashy? Where do people get off being so disrespectful? I’m glad I at least got a chance to put him in his place.

2 comments 
The Movement

Join the movement! Street harassment campaign.

Check out this video from South Africa — bringing attention to street harassment, how it happens, and why it hurts.  They creators also point out the links between street harassment and a culture of media and advertising that regularly objectifies women and treats them like objects. A culture that makes objectifying women OK is the gateway to a culture that makes violence against women OK.

no comments 
Uncategorized

My Hollaback Diary

REPOSTED FROM FEMINIST LETTERS

I am regularly inspired by the women involved in the Hollaback campaign. The work they do and the sites they run are amazing. I would recommend that every woman go onto their website, read a bit about what they do, submit your own stories of harassment (lets face it, we’ve ALL got them) and if you can, donate to help keep them going. They also have some great advice for dealing with harassers; here.

The Hollaback movement (combined with the recent warm weather – why are pervs more active in Summer?) has really brought to my attention just how regularly I experience this sort of thing. Many people say its ‘harmless’ or some sort of ‘compliment’ but I do believe that it has a real impact on women and the way they live their lives. So I wanted to start a little Hollaback diary of my own to try and keep track just how often these incidents occur.

I’m not sure if I experience this sort of harassment more or less than other women, but for me it feels like it happens bloody often.

1. Date: 8th May 2011. Time: approx 2 am. Place: City Centre, outside my girlfriends apartment building. Sleaze: As I kissed my girlfriend goodnight two men walking along the street stop and start yelling at us. Comments include I want to f*ck you two, can I join in, you’re so f*cking sexy etc etc. I hollaback (can’t help myself) and it turns really nasty. One of them starts calls us bitches etc and tells us all sorts of really disgusting things he is ‘going’ to do to us, including things I don’t want to think about, let alone write down.

2. Date: 12th May 2011. Time: 8:30 am. Place: City Centre, on the way to work. Sleaze: A small but regular occurrence when walking down the street. I walk past workmen of some sort and they stop what they are doing, collectively look at me for a moment as I approach and then say “Hi, Good Morning”. I know it sounds innocent, but in my head I am thinking; leave me the hell alone. I am walking here. Do you stop and greet everyone that goes past? How many men have you paused to greet this morning. I feel suddenly like I am no longer a person walking down the street, but a sexual object walking along.

3. Date: 20th May 2011. Time: approx 1:30 am. Place: City Centre, walking the 2 blocks from a friends party to my apartment. Sleaze: I walk out of the apartment building and onto the street. Unfortunately at the same time a group of about 5 men are also walking past. They stop, start making noises and cat calls then effectively surround me in a half circle blocking my movement. One of them moves towards me and shouts something I didnt quite catch, but that include the word ‘madame’. I stiffen, hold my head up high and push through, ignoring them as best I can. Despite having been at a great party for most of the night,  by the time I get home I am so full of rage I cant sleep. (so I do some ranty writing and furious tweets.)

4. Date: 25th May 2011. Time: approx 10 am. Place: City Centre, walking along my street on the way to work. Sleaze: Another workman incident. Pretty similar to #2.

I will try and keep updating this as these events occur, which no doubt they will…

one comment 
demonstration

Kay’s story from Madrid: A daily occurance

Unfortunately this is an all too regular occurrence here in Spain. On my way to work this morning, a taxi driver in a registered city cab slowed down to practically kerb crawl the pavement I was walking on and spout inappropriate sexual noises and comments at me. The street was ‘one way’ so I walked behind the cab, crossed the road and continued walking. He was going in the direction I was so he then waited higher up the road on a corner, stopping the cab to ogle me.

I showed him the middle finger as I passed behind his car again and continued with my journey walking away from him. He started shouting “Fea, fea!” (Ugly, ugly) out of his window and across the street at me. In the space of a minute I had gone from ‘sexy and gorgeous’ to ‘ugly’ in his eyes.

I shouted back that he was disgusting and had no respect.

This type of bullshit happens on pretty much a daily basis out here in Madrid and it usually comes from a generation above mine (40-60 year old men). In the last few months, I have decided to “hollaback”; inspired by the movement after an American friend of mine out here told me about it.

The last time I holla’d back before today I got called a c***. It seems you are expected to take this crap but should you even have the ‘audacity’ to respond negatively to these creeps, you get verbally abused.

I wished I had taken his photo and will do so the next time it happens. I will also report such events in the future.

no comments 
Verbal

vanessa’s story from mexico d.f: “Instantly my self esteem was at the floor”

yesterday i had to go to a 5 pm class, which really irritated me to no end,i just wasnt feeling very good with myself. to get to my school i have to walk like 7 minutes after i get off the bus, so i was walking on the sidewalk and i had my ipod on, because really is an off day when i dont get honked at or called at, its just freaking annoying and it makes me very angry. So im walking and 3 guys are walking towards me and i was in hurry so i was walking fast and after i walk by them one of them makes a hand movement as if he was going to touch me (but he didnt), all i could do was to raise my hand to stop his as i said asshole under my breath, one of the guys hears and laughs, which makes me mad, and it took everything in me to not turn around and yell like a maniac, so i continue walking and after i walked by a car wash where aproximately 4 guys were working they started to call me baby, mamacita and nasty stuff, i did hear them but really i had no energy to say anything(i usually turn around and start yelling at them or i tell them to fuck off or give them the finger or something, ANYTHING!) and when they didnt see any reaction from me they just yelled *you are fat* instantly my self steem was at the floor, i felt like crap, so much that i almost cried right then and there. After my class i walked to the bus stop and as im standing there waiting for it, a guy in a motorcycle passes by stares at me and i dont stare back and avert my eyes from his and when he passed right by my side he said *you are fat anyway* that day was awful i mean why do they think they have the right to say ANYTHING about a person’s body? and why do we let it affect us SO damn much?? why do we let men control us?

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