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
When my boyfriend was away for a few days last summer I decided, since the sun was shinig, to go for a walk around my local area. I ended up cutting my walk short because as I passed three seperate groups of builders working on houses each time at least one of the men working shouted some kind of suggestive or sexual comment at me. Although I wasn’t particularly shocked as I know that is is a common occurance for most women it made me wonder whether it is impossible for a woman to walk the streets of an ordinary British town without a man accompanying them and remain unharassed.
I had the misfortune to live with a ‘hollering from car’ type of guy (he was brought into our shared house, without our consent, by a dodgy landlord). It was the worst experience of my life.
Not only would he regale us with HILARIOUS tales detailing how him and his mates harassed women on the street (usually while cruising around in his car), he spent most nights sat very close to the TV, describing in graphic detail what he wanted to do to each and every woman that appeared. And I mean graphic. I’m not particularly easily shocked, but this was way too much for me. On top of his rampant misogyny, he was also physically threatening to our lone male housemate and liked to go on and on about how he was an expert in martial arts and regularly beat people up on the street. In short, he was a psychopath. Needless to say, we moved out of there as fast as we possibly could (losing our deposits and a months rent in the process, which still makes me angry to this day).
I now am firmly of the belief that all men who holler from cars are low life scum of the earth with serious personality defects!
Firstly, thanks for setting up such a great site.
Here’s my story. I am very tall (nearly 6 foot) and like to wear miniskirts and so often get stared at while walking down the street (though I don’t usually notice because I’m wrapped up in my own thoughts).
One nice summer evening, I was sitting outside the Park and Ride hut in Cambridge waiting for my husband to finish work when this older guy comes up and sits at one end of the bench I was sitting on. I wasn’t very comfortable with that but decided to ignore it. The next second he jumped closer to me, and then did it again. I was so terrified that he was going to grab me and try and assault me so I got up and ran into the hut where the male attendant sits. (He is great by the way and kept an eye on me until my husband came to pick me up.)
The guy who had been harassing me followed me into the hut and started telling me some story about how he had mistaken me for his daughter and didn’t mean any harm etc. I ignored him as my instincts were screaming at me that this man is trying to attack me. He eventually went outside (probably because the male attendant was there). I sat there completely terrified with my rape alarm in one hand and my mobile phone in the other until my husband arrived. Ever since then, I haven’t been comfortable waiting at the Park & Ride for my husband, and drive to work rather than using the Park & Ride.
I feel angry about this as I have been forced to change what I do and miss out on exercise outside each evening because of the actions of a man who couldn’t keep his feelings to himself. It shouldn’t have to be this way.
I live in central Nottingham and I am used to the normal chaos of the city, I get looked at on the street and ‘beeped’ at regularly. However, about six weeks ago a gang of men and children (I haven’t seen any women/mothers yet…) moved into a house at the end of the street. When I first passed the house a couple of men shouted ‘Smile!’ because it was early in the morning and I wasn’t in the best of moods! I paid them no mind. I passed again the day after and the day after that, they remembered what I looked like and kept shouting it at me, I’d just rush past with my head down. I passed one evening and the number of men seemed to have doubled and I felt intimidated when they shouted at me from the other side of the road, but they didn’t do anything but shout ‘Come on love, give us a smile!’. It was the following morning when I was heading off to college that a couple of little boys and their Dad came out of their house, the dad shouted the usual ‘Oi! Smile!’ a couple of times, when I didn’t respond he got the kids to run after me shouting ‘Smile!’ until I had turned the corner, off the street. It was equally embarrassing and scary! It’s disgusting that that man is teaching his kids to bully and intimidate women, and really hard for me knowing that they know who I am and that they could be living there for many years to come! I now walk a longer way to and from my house; it is inconvenient and makes me very, very angry!
As a teenager I used to hate walking past building sites or anywhere that groups of men were hanging out. I never found it flattering to be whistled at or having guys calling out to me. My defense used to be to appear as stony-faced as possible, in the hope that they’d think I was a moody cow and not worth approaching. This invariably backfired because what I used to get was “Cheer up love, it might never happen!”
I heard this cliched cheeky chappie expression so many times! After the umpteenth time I suddenly came up with a brilliant reposte. “Actually, it just did.”
Most of them took a few seconds to get what I had said, some of them never did.
What is a bit bizarre is that I still brace myself when I walk past a building site, even though I’m 55 years old and have been “invisible” for years!
I have been harassed in my town several times but two times specifically stood out to me. The first one was when I was in 8th grade and was walking 4 blocks away to my friends house.There was this white car passing by slowly. He passed me several times… I was panicking, I didn’t know what to do. I started walking faster and it passed around the block again. I finally made it to my friends house and I knocked my heart out while looking down the street both ways. He opened the door and I ran inside hysterical. My friend closed the door and was concerned and later walked me home. Note: this happened during day light.
The second was last year during my sophomore year. This was on the same street from the previous incident. I had gotten off the train and was walking home. There were three boys older than me walking ahead of me slowly. Even before they started calling at me I felt like something was going to happen. They were walking in front of me waiting for me to pass them so they could probably do something. They all made typical calls encouraging each rooting for each other. My heart was racing…. I hate walking slow and doing so then just made it seem like this would last forever. I made sure to keep my distance but I didn’t want to stop walking altogether or I thought they might do something. A corner came up… I thought I would detour my route because I thought they wouldn’t go out of their way to turn back to follow me. So I walked 5 blocks just to avoid them, when my destination was only 2 blocks away…. but I also didn’t want them to know where I was going.
I was at a metal concert in Seattle at Studio Seven when a guy behind me decided it would be a great idea to grab my behind. His hand stayed there. It was a loud concert and very crowded, so no one noticed. My elbow immediately fell behind me as I very gently gutted him in the stomach. (It is a natural reflex, after being trained in self defense) I turned around to look at him, and he said “What the heck?!” I said, “Don’t touch me again.” and walked away.
Dear Hollaback Community,
In honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day please help us celebrate to make this the loudest and proudest Women’s Day the globe has yet seen!
Today we are collecting 100 stories for 100 years of incredible progress! Our local leaders have put together this special video valentine especially for you, to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to helping make the world a safer place for women and LGBTQ individuals everywhere.
If you’ve never hollabacked, never has there been a better day than today. And if you’ve shared your stories with us before, share another. Put fingers to keypad and share that one story you still haven’t told that might help another girl find her own way to hollaback tomorrow.
And most importantly, thank you for all that you do!
Here’s to the biggest, greatest International Women’s Day yet!
With love and revolution,
By ERIKA K. DAVIS
Since its inception in the early 1900s in Europe and the late 1970s in the US, International Women’s Day has taken a back seat to larger, more popular holidays. But it’s taken a back seat to even the most inane ones, too. How do we know the anniversary of Pacman and Thomas Edison’s Birthday without knowing about Women’s Day? One word: Google.
Google changes their logo for almost anything, but in the past few years, March 8 has come and gone without so much as a nod from The Google. This is not to slam Google, it is my understanding that because today marks the holiday’s 100th anniversary, they do plan on changing their header. What does it say, though, that we need a Google header to realize it’s Women’s Day? Surely I should have learned this in my all-girls Catholic high school.
It is common to give gifts and flowers to women on March 8th around the world and in certain countries, Women’s Day is a national holiday that entitles women to a day off of work. But in the United States, while other newer holidays like Earth Day are woven into the academic school year and publicized in advertisements on subways, buses, and media, Women’s Day has remained largely unnoticed.
I polled some of my friends and a few strangers for an unscientific look at what Women’s Day means to some people. The answers were varied: “Never heard of it” and “Why do we need days like Black History, LGBTQ, Women’s days when we should all be appreciated and honored every day for who and what we are” and “I wish I could say that it meant more, but it doesn’t.”
It’s not hard to understand the lack of celebration around Women’s Day in the United States when we consider the ongoing assault on women’s rights as a whole in our country. You cannot open up the newspaper, turn on the news or open your Facebook feed without hearing of continued political attempts to revoke, amend, and regulate our rights. We’re being assaulted in government as well as in our schools and on the streets. From the now removed billboard attack on African American women in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood in September to the continued fight for federal funding for Planned Parenthood, to a Georgia state representative’s attempt to redefine the word ‘rape’, in the United States, women’s rights are under seige.
In the United States and around the world women are treated as second class citizens right off the bat. Add other variables like race, religion, ethnicity, disability, weight, sexual orientation and a woman’s rank in society goes down yet a notch further. But serious progress has been made, and movements like the anti-street harassment movement prove that we are changing. In the words of a friend, our country is ripe for a revolution. So who is ready to take that stand?
I’ve often lamented that I wish that I had the gall of our foremothers who walked out of garment districts demanding better pay. I wish I’d been there as we demanded our rights to vote, demanded the rights for contraception, and won the right to choose. I look at pictures of women of varying ethnic groups standing shoulder to shoulder in black and white stills of the marches on Washington and wonder if this generation is ready to make the same amount of real noise as those women. Not just Internet and Facebook noise but real Noise. Burning your bra Noise, mega phone Noise, in your face NOISE! The Women’s Movement may have ended but if we aren’t celebrating Women’s Day in a big way nationally, the fight is not over.
Erika K. Davis is the writer and founder of Black, Gay, and Jewish and lives in New York City.
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