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Dear HollaBack and all you women who like to chill in Central Park this summer,
I want to warn you about a wanker I encountered this past weekend:
On Saturday afternoon, I went back to a really lovely spot on the shore of the lake just a few paths in from the West 77th Street entrance — plenty of rocks to climb and sit upon to read or watch the water. There’s an area at water-level where I sat down to read — people were nearby on other rocks and plenty of rowboats were out on the lake, but people kept coming and going in my immediate vicinity. After awhile, this dude sat down a couple rocks away from me and took out an electronic device — this didn’t seem weird to me, since I’d noticed plenty of people come and go with cameras, take some photos of the lake, and leave, but I couldn’t figure out if this device was a camera or not. The dude set it in his lap and stayed there for a while, and then moved to a rock right next to me slightly higher up and straddled it, with the device still in his lap. I gave him a dirty look and shifted a little farther away from him when one of his legs was only a few inches away from my head, but otherwise stayed where I was — why should I have to be the one to move? I was there first, and I was absorbed in my book, so I ignored him, figuring he was just trying to find the most comfortable place to get settled, as I had done when I’d first arrived.
After a few more minutes, he moved again, this time to a rock a few feet away, kitty-corner to mine. I thought it was weird that he sat down facing me instead of facing the lake, but again I didn’t say anything, because he wasn’t actively bothering me and I just wanted to keep reading my book. Still, I was trying to figure out what his device was, because I’m paranoid about strangers taking photos of me without my knowledge, so I wanted to be sure it didn’t have a camera — but every time I looked up, I accidentally caught his eyes through his sunglasses, and he just stared creepily back at me. Of course, that part was not a new experience — dudes staring creepily — but I was physically comfortable where I was, relaxing into my first days of summer . . . so despite the slightly uneasy feeling I got, I just chalked it up to him being an awkward dude, your usual guy on the street/subway/wherever who stares but at least doesn’t say or do anything about it.
The next time I glanced up, though, I saw that HE HAD HIS DICK OUT. His pants were all the way open, and he was hard and jerking off fast. What. The. Fuck! It was so unexpected and repulsive, all I could do was make a horrified/disgusted face, grab my things, and get the hell away from there as quickly as possible. I was extremely shaken up, so freaked out that I couldn’t even scream at him or tell anyone else nearby what was happening. I just left the park as quickly as possible, called a couple of friends to calm me down, and didn’t stop walking until I’d walked dozens of blocks back to my apartment. How long had he been doing that and I hadn’t even noticed? What kind of person thinks that is remotely okay to do? I felt disgustingly violated, and still wish I could get the nauseating image of his face and his dick out of my head. Part of me started blaming myself for not moving the hell away from there from the moment I noticed that he was sitting on rocks closer to me than any polite person would, and then another part of me has been trying to shut that voice up ever since: There is no excuse for what that dude did. I had every right to be where I was, quietly reading in my own personal space, and he had no right whatsoever to take my presence as a woman as invitation to pull his dick out and wank in front of me.
I just hope that letting other women know about him will prevent this dude from violating anyone else. Assuming that he frequents the park to do this (which of course I have no way of knowing), I hope that somebody will catch him at it and have the power to do something about it. He was a tall, white, brunette, thirtysomething dude in shorts, wearing sunglasses and carrying an Insignia DVD Player (which I finally figured out did not have a camera), if that helps at all. If a dude sits near you when obviously there are other places to sit, I hope you have the voice I didn’t to tell him to move the fuck away. I assumed the best in this dude — that he was just an awkward guy trying to get comfortable on a nice day in the park — when really there are way more creeps who actually think it’s okay to pull their dicks out and do this in public, in front of or even on women. I know there are decent men in this world, but (from my own experiences and from reading other infuriating HollaBack posts here) this city keeps trying to prove me wrong.
Thank you so much for this forum to share my experience, even if you don’t end up posting it on the site, although I really hope you will. (I know it’s kind of long, but I couldn’t figure out how to write about it all more succinctly!)
Submitted by Sarah
Two vermin on St. Marks in studded leather jackets; I thought they were a couple until….Taller one: “Hey, sexy lady”
I yelled “STOP HARASSING WOMEN! NO ONE LIKES IT! YOU’RE GOING UP ON THE INTERNET!!”
“SEE YOU ON HOLLABACKNYC.COM, SMEGMA!!!”
Shorter one: “Whore!” He wishes.
I was wearing a 3/4 sleeve top , jeans and carrying a backpack.
Submitted by ninyabruja
note: Never heard of the word smegma? Us either. According to urban dictionary it is a “buildup of skin and other crud found between the foreskin and penis.” Um, gross. But whatta great hollaback word. Take that, smegma!
I didn’t snap a photo of this guy, because I didn’t know/couldn’t believe what was happening until much later:
Two friends and I took the downtown 6 train from 86th street to 14th street, about 6:45 on Saturday evening. The train was PACKED. I was pressed up against some dude, my back to his front. I felt something around my butt, but couldn’t tell what is was–I suspected a penis, but wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I made a face at my friends, who told me to elbow him, but I couldn’t really tell what was happening. I could feel his heart beating against my back, but again, it was crowded, sweaty, etc. Eventually I was able to move. Fine. When the train crowds eased up a bit I realized I had something on my backside, and on my legs. We got out at 14th street, went to a restaurant, and I checked the dress in the bathroom–the man definitely came on me.
I called the police the next day, and they came by my apartment to take a report, but it was mortifying–they kept questioning everythinng I said, and one officer “repeated back” to me what I had allegedly told him, not letting me correct his mistakes, and told me “I have a great memory so I know exactly what you said.” Eventually his supervisor came by, and she was nicer, and more sympathetic, but the
message was clear: why would you let someone stand that close to you, and why wouldn’t you say anything (at the time, or right afterward). The whole experience was awful, but I don’t really know what I could have done differently–I didn’t want to turn around to face the guy, and figured that SEEING him would be worse than feeling him, but I had no idea that he must have had his penis out.
Completely disgusting, and the cops’ attitude made it worse.
Submitted by Sarah
This is the eleventh video in the “Why I Hollaback” series. “Why I Hollaback” tells the story of how and why folks decide to take the leap, speak up, and start Holla’ing back. We will release a new story every Monday and accept submissions from all over the world. So tell us your story — Why do you Hollaback?
We have come so far. Now, we have to raise the rest in the next four days, or we lose the money that has already been donated. If you haven’t donated yet, do it now.
In the past month, we’ve had 228 people donate to this campaign. That’s 228 people who believe that a world without street harassment is possible; 228 people who are willing to help create that future, one hollaback at a time. You Hollabackers are trailblazers, and the world is watching you do it. In the past few weeks the Hollaback movement has been profiled by Jezebel, CNET, Feministing, The Examiner, BUST, About.com, Huh Magazine, and Planet Green, to name only a few.
The next four days will be critical to our success. If we can raise $3500, we can change the world. How can you help?
2. Email all your friends. Tell them what Hollaback is about. Tell them that you donated, and they should too.
3. Update your facebook status and tweet: 4 days and $3500 between us and a world without street harassment, please RT and donate today: http://bit.ly/bfyZCC
We can do this. Four days to go.
Was at the bar last night, and I met a friend of my boyfriend’s for the first time. When my boyfriend left to get another drink, I was telling the man I’d just met about my job. He seemed like he was listening, and he was nodding. Then he interrupted me and said “yeah, yeah, blah, you have really nice tits”. Everyone around the table seemed a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything, just laughter. I didn’t know what to say, and everyone was laughing. I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving the bar anytime soon, so if I said something I would be ensnared into an ethical conversation about “complimenting women”. So I just said thank you, in an effort to move the conversation to something other than my “nice tits”.
Submitted by Jessi
I have no picture, because this happened to me back in the nineties. I lived in Ecuador and the harrassment was an everpresent part of my life. So many things happened, and my policy was to be angry and let them have it. This one time, though, this little man was following behind me closely, muttering disgusting things. I yelled, I tried to act intimidating, but he would not stop. Then I noticed that we were alone-it was the middle of the day, and the businesses were closed. So I made a plan. I pretended to give up, and I walked a few blocks, with him muttering the whole way, always trying to get closer. I walked right to a walkway full of people, and when we were in the middle, I yelled “pervert, leave me alone!” at the top of my lungs. He froze, and I saw his eyes darting around in panic. Right before he ran off, he looked at me and I smirked.
Submitted by Ellen
First time to deal with a train masturbator. This guy was on the 6 Local from 42nd street heading downtown. He was jerking off through his jeans, but the gross part was that he wasn’t doing it to me, but to the little girl across from him! She must have been 6 yrs old. They got off at the same stop as me and he looked up at me as I was exiting. I politely and discretely gave him the finger. He looked away real fast. I only wish I was brave enough to have gotten a better picture.
Submitted by T.
I was standing on the corner of 26th st. and 7th ave. in Manhattan enjoying my lunch break on a beautiful day. I heard something hissing from nearby, and turned around to this character nodding and hissing at me. A minute after snapping this photo as he walked off, I stopped him and asked if he had just been hissing at me, and if he was trying to get my attention. Here’s what our conversation looked like:
I said “I’m just out here enjoying my lunch break and trying to go about my business and you interrupted me.”
He said “What if I had come up to you and said ‘I think you’re beautiful’?”
And I said “I don’t care, I don’t want anyone talking to me on the street, I don’t like talking to strangers on the street and most women don’t.”
We went back and forth like this for a couple of minutes and he tried to say he wasn’t hissing at me. He said what’s the difference between that and telling me I’m beautiful and I said:
“Well at least that would have been better than standing across the street making animal noises at me.”
He finally said “I’m sorry.”
And I said “Thank You.”
Submitted by V
This is the tenth video in the “Why I Hollaback” series. “Why I Hollaback” tells the story of how and why folks decide to take the leap, speak up, and start Holla’ing back. We will release a new story every Monday and accept submissions from all over the world. So tell us your story — Why do you Hollaback?