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I was out with my friend in the city that I love so very much, and I experienced the most real sexual harassment in my 24 years, twice. We were at a bar and this guy came up to us and asked if we we wanted a drink and I said, “I’m sorry, but we’re good.” Which he didn’t like at all and didn’t understand why we didn’t want a drink. I tried to explain to him that he needed to respect the fact that we didn’t want anything, we didn’t want to be talked to or touched. He proceeded to call me a bitch because I didn’t want to talk to him, so I told him he needed to back off.
I think no one would be surprised that he wasn’t pleased by that, so he threatened me with, “What are you going to do, anyway?” And my friend and his friend said to just walk away, so I did, to not cause a scene. Then we went to another bar where the EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED! And I told a bouncer at the new bar that I had been assaulted and I didn’t want to file a complaint, I just wanted to know that there was someone looking out for the other women there, because when I left to go find a bouncer the new assaulter had a girl by the neck. The bouncer seemed to think I had made it up. More than I hate to think that women are being assaulted in the hospitality state, I hate to think that women are being shamed for sticking up for other women. I worry because I had to ask two women if they were okay because I wasn’t comfortable with the appearance of the situation, and they were both so shocked that someone would pay attention enough to be concerned.
At approximately 6pm, a car honked and pulled over while I was out for a walk in a “nice” tree-lined neighborhood. Now, I’ve already had the experience of a man stalking me in his car in this area (demanding that I drive him home, which I’ve since interpreted to be an attempted abduction), but I thought, well, maybe he’s lost or — well, basically anything other than what happened next. Here is the exchange in full:
HIM, sitting in his car: You wanna make some extra money?
HIM: You sure?
ME: [wtf] No. [turning to walk away]
ME: … [walking away]
HIM: You’re beautiful!
Fortunately he drove away, but he could have had any number of violent reactions to me turning him down, which is very scary. But guess what? My day of harassment was not over!
I was still outside, and had to get back…on the way, I was honked at twice. Also, a guy hanging out the window of his friend’s car shouted, “heyyyyy” at me as they drove by. I shouted back my crass thoughts, but who knows if he heard. It was particularly frustrating because after the “heyyyy” guy passed by, an older man walked by with his dog and gave me the usual nod of acknowledgment you give passers-by. ALL WAS NORMAL. Women pushing babies in strollers, men jogging. But all I can think about is how terrible my experience out in that same exact public space was…it seemed like everyone was having a lovely time except me, the Female Human in Public.
May 12th, walking down Margaret St. towards Koffee Kat. A man in a turquoise shirt, blue hat and red shorts was sitting on a bench across the street from me (corner of Brink and Margaret). I’m just minding my own business, walking near JCEO and hear, “Hey, want to come sit with me?” then, “Damn, you’ve got a nice tight ass, mmm.” He then proceeds to sing aloud and yell at others who went by in cars. I had to walk by again to get to my car, an hour later. He was still there.
The videos from #hollarev are here, and they are amazing! Today’s video features some REAL TALK as Rebecca unmasks rape culture and street harassment in her spoken word
“I am tired of hearing blame at girls for being caught out in the rain when there are folks standing out on street corners with garden hoses and super-soakers” – Rebecca, Hollaback! Halifax, at this year’s #hollarev
At the mothership, our awesome Cats against Catcalling inflatable is making its rounds around New York City. From HollaRev to Pink Melon Joy, the HollaCat is fighting street harassment one hiss at a time. Hollaback! NYC is also preparing for Pride which will be a total blast. So, if you haven’t already, sign up to march with Hollaback! NYC on June 29th here!
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Philly along with Nuala Cabral of FAANMAIL spoke at assemblies at Cristo Rey High School throughout the week, teaching students about street harassment and sharing stories related to the topic. Also, Hollaback! Philly has been working endlessly to bring awareness and to help end Cosplay harassments at conventions.
Hollabakck! LA joined the Ovarian Psycos, a super rad group of womyn and womyn identified bikers, for the event Enough is Enough: Full Moon Ride, a lunar bike ride that consisted of discussions about how to combat street harassment and ways to protect oneself from such harassment.
Hollaback! Baltimore hosted a Baltimore Bartenders Safer Spaces Meeting, where they engaged with Baltimore Bartenders in discussing ways to keep patrons harassment free during these busy summertime months.
Hollaback! Plattsburgh hosted a Flash Fundraiser with Paul Carson in order to print more educational material! They surpassed their minimal goal and lost a bit of hair in the process, but all for a great cause!
Amazing work, as always HOLLAs! Til next time-
Holla and out!
-The Hollaback! Team
This man was always calling out to me when I walked by, every single time I walked by.
I am a male and first I want to say I’m really sorry for what you ladies go through. It’s terrible that there are men out there with such blatant disrespect for women. Reading these stories, it sickens me to hear them. I just wanted you to know that at least one man got your back!
I haven’t read all of the stories on this website, so maybe someone like me has already shared a similar experience. (Also, I’m disappointed there isn’t a Hollaback in DC.)
I live in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, DC, which is very diverse – a lot of white, black, and Latino residents–but not many Asian residents. There aren’t many Asians in DC to begin with, as they mostly live in the MD and VA suburbs. I am Asian American and female, and I believe the street harassment I experience is not only sexist, but also racist.
One time last summer, after a friend and I had drinks at a local bar, I walked home by myself around 1:00am. The neighborhood is pretty safe, though mostly deserted. I passed by a man parallel-parking his car and he yelled out the window, “You’d make a great concubine!” It was bad enough that he would yell anything at me to begin with, but I know I never would have gotten the “concubine” comment if I weren’t Asian. How am I supposed to respond to that?
I kept walking and ignored him, but I felt so angry that 1) he did that to me and 2) more importantly, I couldn’t do anything about it. I wish there were laws on the books about street harassment, particularly in DC, where it is rampant, so that I could have taken down the guy’s license plate and reported him to the police and he could have been fined or something. But no such laws exist. Yet…?
Another incidence of street harassment happened a few days ago. I was passing a construction site on the way to a meeting, and one of the construction workers tried to say hi to me and get my attention. I just ignored him because he said it in a way that I could tell he was trying to flirt or otherwise sexually/inappropriately harass me. But because I chose to ignore him and keep walking, he yelled after me, “What, you don’t understand English?!” Again, had I not been Asian, I would not have received such a comment about not understanding English. Does that mean if I could understand English I would automatically be willing to respond to him??? How does that logic make any sense? Again, I felt furious that there was nothing I could do in response.
This is quite possibly the most vile thing anyone has ever said to me. It’s not the first time I’ve been the victim of verbal street harassment, and I only wish it will be the last. It was about a week ago, and I stood texting my boyfriend on National Avenue (near One Stop Golf), the same place I’ve waited to meet him from work most weeknights for over 3 months. Before this the same group had done the odd wolf-whistle but that’s it, yeah it’s demeaning and unpleasant but nothing compared to the latest catcall.
Last week as I stood in the usual place, 4 guys (late 20s) cycled past and one of them shouted, “Don’t think you’re going to get any business stood there!” I was completely in shock, I froze and just stood there looking down at my phone in horror. My boyfriend arrived a few minutes later with his friend and they were both really concerned. I’m normally quite quick-witted and things don’t usually shake me this much but I was feeling so awful and sick from the comment I could not even react. It turned out the guys who cycled past actually work with my boyfriend, and I had to beg him not to say anything because I’m certain if they know it bothers me, they’ll get worse. I have even resorted to hiding down the ten-foot until I’ve seen them go by. I’ve never felt so ashamed to be a woman in my life, I kept thinking, “Do I really look like a prostitute?” It took my boyfriend, his parents, his brother and my best friend to convince me that they were just stupid boys saying stupid stuff. I can take a bit of banter but that was too much…
I recently moved to San Francisco for a summer internship. In the 10 days that I’ve been here, I’ve experienced catcalling and other forms of verbal street harassment (from strangers intentionally blocking my way as I’m walking and creepily saying “hello” to making ominously threatening comments about me) on 5 different occasions. That’s every other day. Each time, it triggers memories of my prior experiences with sexual violence and reminds me that I am constantly at risk of experiencing such violence again.
Just today, I began to notice all of the subconscious ways I’ve been responding to this harassment. I look down to avoid all eye contact with passersby (hoping to go unnoticed), remind myself to walk and stand in aggressive ways (in attempts to appear strong), stand near the exit on public transportation (so I can easily escape if I need to) – and that’s just during the day. If the sun has set and I’m alone, I stay in my apartment. Period.
The way that street harassment polices the bodies, actions, and lives of women and many other marginalized populations is unacceptable. I shouldn’t have to feel scared, tense, or anxious about walking out my front door. These are my streets too.