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 work at a little gas station down the street from my house, and all of these incidents took place while I was working.
1) A customer that we regularly had trouble with trying to get free beer and cigarettes from one of the other employees came in and not seeing my coworker there started harassing me to give him free stuff. I had been told by my manager that this was not acceptable, and to tell him to leave if it happened again. I did as I was told and the customer started smiling to me. He told me I was cute when I was angry and asked if I was married. I told him that I was, and he told me that he was going to break into my house and steal me away from my husband. I told him again to get out, and he asked to take my hand. I refused, staying back from the counter. He set something on the counter, covering it with his hand, and assured me it was money for his purchase. Since my coworker had not come out of the back room (where the camera equipment was, he was watching the entire exchange from the office) and I had been assured several times that this particular customer, a regular in the store, was “harmless” I moved towards the counter to take the money and ring up the purchase. At that point he grabbed me by the hand and started pulling me over the counter. Finally, my coworker came out of the office and told the customer to leave. I was horribly shaken up by the experience, and told my manager and the owner that I was not comfortable with this kind of behavior, and asked specifically that this particular customer be barred from the property (a common practice when customers get out of hand). I was told that he was to be prevented from entering the store, but when he came back in a few weeks later and I told him to leave repeatedly, my coworker (the same one who’d been hiding in the back room during the actual event) waved him over and continued ringing him up several times in the same day, each time after I had asked the customer to leave. When I discussed this with the owner of the store, I was told that the individual was a “good customer” who came in often, so he was to be allowed into the store again. I expressed concern over having to serve him and the possibility of a similar incident, but the only answer I got was that my coworker wasn’t allowed to give him free beer and cigarettes anymore, but I am still expected to serve him when he comes into the store. This individual comes to the store several times a day, so I have to wait on him at least two or three times a shift, and my discomfort with him is constantly shrugged off.
2) At the same store, another regular who comes in several times a day has a habit of thrusting his hand over the counter towards me as I’m leaning over and handing him his change in attempt to grope at my chest. It’s another issue that I’ve brought up to superiors, and been shrugged off as “that’s just how he is, ignore it”. Apparently this is something he does to all of the female cashiers where I work, and is apparently just accepted as part of the job. Ick.
3) Another regular customer that comes in, and again, I have to wait on him several times each shift, regularly asks me if I’m married. When I tell him that I am, he appears to get angry at the information, insisting that I should leave my husband to be with him, asking for my phone number, etc, and once when I flat out told him I wasn’t interested he yelled at me, called me a stuck up bitch, and again insisted that I should leave my husband for him. Honestly, of the three, this is the one that most often appears to be truly a matter of a man deciding that women are all just property to be claimed with no rights or voice of their own, and the one that makes me the most uncomfortable (the other two, when stared at for the duration of their time in the store back down fairly quickly). Again though, when bringing it up to my superiors, it’s shrugged off as just something that “comes with the territory”, and something that I’ll just have to get used to. I’d rather not. I’m looking for another job already.
Submitted by Equalist
Film is a powerful way to make social change, and we’re loving this one. It shows how men and women think about, and perceive street harassment differently.
The film points to it’s own conclusions, but why do you think street harassment happens?
A penny for your thoughts…
I had the opportunity to speak with these amazing high school students from Elizabeth Irwin high school about a month ago. And they were incredible. Grace, the student at the end, even testified at the city council hearing on street harassment with me in October. She is so bold.
As Ileana says at the end. “You think feminism is dead? Look at these six.” Feminism is far from dead, but if these young folks continue to have their way, street harassment’s days are numbered.
Several years ago, when I was 29 years old, I was seated on a Redline train headed to my mother’s after a job interview. I am an attorney so I was dressed very conservatively in a navy blue suit and pumps. I noticed a scrubby man about my age sitting directly across from me trying to get my attention. When I looked at him he rolled his tongue around against the inside of his cheek, which had been common among juvenile males at my high school for indicating a desire for oral sex, and he mouthed the words to that effect. I was so disgusted I just looked him straight in the eye and said very loudly and meanly “Fuck you.” He looked shocked so I repeated “Fuck you and don’t look at me again.” He mumbled “I’m sorry” but as he was still looking at me I again repeated “Stop looking at me,” which he did. I then stared at him to make sure he didn’t look at me again until we arrived at the next stop where he made a hasty exit.
I felt bad because there were some young children on the train with their dad and I knew they heard me but probably didn’t see the loser pervert so on my way off a few stops later I apologized to the dad for swearing in front of the kids but said that a guy was making rude gestures at me.
What I concluded from the experience is that scrubby stranger stalkers in public places (as opposed to acquaintance stalkers or stalkers when no one else is around) are big cowardly, losers and that they are more afraid of you than you are of them and confronting their disgusting behavior head on will send them scampering away. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise since if these guys weren’t losers they would have girlfriends or wives to satisfy their sexual needs and wouldn’t have to attempt to get their thrills skeeving out strangers in public.
Submitted by Sara
I stopped by the Alley Cantina in Taos, NM back in August to meet a few friends for drinks. The hallway leading to the bathrooms is small – just enough for two people to squeeze by each other – and men were lined up along one side of it (there was only one other woman in line for the ladies’ room). As I’m walking past these men, someone grabs my ass. I turn around immediately and there’s one guy with his hands already up, as if to say “it wasn’t me!” and pointed to his friend who was standing next to him. I didn’t know which one of them actually groped me, but I looked each of them in the eye as I yelled, loud enough so that everyone around me could hear what I was saying over the music and chatter, that you do NOT grab a woman’s ass as she’s walking by you. I felt like a mother scolding her young children! These dudes were much bigger than I am, so I turned around and continued down the hallway. As I got to the front, I turned around to make sure I got a good look at both of them (early- to mid-20s, both males is all I can remember now) and saw them leaving the line, towards the door of the bar. They’re bold enough to grab a stranger’s butt as she’s walking past them, but not bold enough to stick around to deal with the consequences after I talk to the bartender and the security guys. Real manly.
Submitted by Katrina
I was an exchange student in Spain for 9 months and toward the end of those 9 months I went to spend a week on the beach at Salou with a group of friends.
One afternoon I was walking the 2 blocks from our hotel to the beach by myself when I heard a man calling out to me. I glanced at him, then looked away. I noticed him running after me. I sped up. He grabbed me and attempted to kiss me. I twisted out of his arms, looked him dead in the eye, and said firmly, in English, “I don’t understand any Spanish.” Which, by the way, was an utter lie. But I assumed that he would be put off by a person who spoke no Spanish.
I walked swiftly and decidedly on toward the beach. Thankfully, he left me alone, although behind me I heard him say, in Spanish, something like, “You don’t have to know any Spanish!”
Submitted by Olivia
I know this isn’t street harassment, but it isn’t any less humiliating to be harassed on campus.
My first experience with harassment really shook me up because it happened in EIGHTH GRADE. I was sitting beside a jerk jock–you know the type–in math class when he started petting my arm and leg. We were not friends. There was no way this could be construed as a joke. I told him to stop. He didn’t.
I was raised by a woman who joined her school’s all-boys track team in the 60s to force the administration to open sports up to girls. I was NOT raised to take this. So I stood up in the middle of class, pointed to the boy beside me and told my teacher loud enough for everyone to hear, “He is touching me. He’s sexually harassing me and I’m not going to take it.”
I didn’t know it then, but that was my first time holla’ing back.
Now, I attend Delta College in Saginaw Michigan and I have been harassed and cornered no less than five times. I make it a point to laugh at the offenders and draw as much attention to them as possible, but they’re everywhere and they come in all flavors. There’s no point in reporting this to administration or campus police because they don’t do anything about it, but maybe posting this will give other girls the courage to say something too because they aren’t alone.
Ladies of all ages, NEVER let anyone make you feel less than you are. Hollaback and if you’re at Delta College, know that if I’m around I will be backing you up.
Submitted by Emily
Satire can be a powerful artistic form used to change bad human behavior.
It uses irony, wit, and ridicule to attack human vice, folly, and foolishness.
“As such, it is a tool that can be used to defeat street harassment,” writes blogger and self-defense guru Erik Kondo.
“Satire can be used to deny and refute the power of street harassers and expose their weaknesses and flaws. I came up with the term ‘sexless toad’ because as a man, I believe it is an insult that takes away power and is emasculating. The point is to come up with words that take away power. The insult ‘asshole’ actually gives power.”
Click here to read the tale of The Harasser, The Toad, And The Goddesses’ Daughter.
11/27/2010, around 1pm. I was walking with my friend V. on Broadway in uptown Manhattan (just past Nagle Avenue, along the wall of Fort Tryon Park) when we encountered four young men, around 13 or 14, perched on the wall and benches hanging out. One kid yelled out at us, saying “your girlfriend’s cute!” The others laughed and chimed in, yelling at V., and started asking “is she your sister or girlfriend?”
Feeling a bit defensive and reckless (I honestly wanted to answer “both” just to see their reactions) I lied and said yes, and they all started hooting “tap that ass!” and “kiss, kiss, kiss.” They shouted at us down the rest of the block; it was awkward, but we both took it in good humor. I would hope that they’re just being reckless young kids and they’ll grow out of that kind of behavior soon.
Submitted by Ronan
I’m 19 years old and I’ve been verbally harassed by men many times before but luckily this is the only time (so far) that I have been groped by a stranger.
I had been shopping or maybe seeing a movie with my mom and one of my good guy friends. We were all in the elevator with a handful of other people and when we got to our floor I suddenly felt like someone had grabbed my butt. I thought that it might have been my friend’s hand accidentally brushing me but then I looked back and saw two guys in their 40′s looking quite clean and unsuspicious but LEERING at me in such a way that I KNEW that I wasn’t imagining things. Unfortunately because BEING GROPED was so completely outside of my expectations of something that would happen to me, especially in a nice mall in Seattle and with my MOTHER only feet away, it took me until we had exited the elevator to really understand what had happened. Oh how I wish I had given that man what he deserved!
Thinking back, I imagine turning around, holding the elevator doors open and just screaming at this man, humiliating him in front of the other family that was in the elevator with us. I don’t know who would have punched this guy harder, my friend or my mom!
At least I’m prepared for next time… unfortunately as a young woman I can be pretty sure that there will be a next time.
Submitted by Lorraine