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After experiencing street-harassment on a daily basis, and heavily researching it throughout the day, I’ve been feeling pretty inspired to speak up. I have another success story to share from this afternoon.
The past two days have seemed laden with honking, whistling, smiling, and other unwanted invasions of my personal and mental space. I work in an industrial neighborhood in Hayward, CA, and sometimes I could swear it’s a breeding ground for this.
And just because I feel that it needs to be stated and emphasized, I can personally confirm that IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOU ARE WEARING. YOU ARE NEVER “ASKING” TO BE HARASSED. Yesterday’s weather was stormy and cloudy. I was in a jacket all day, and still was harassed on the street. Today was warm and sunny. I was in a blouse, and was still harassed on the street. THERE IS NOTHING “WRONG” WITH WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO WEAR. THE HARASSERS ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT YOU.
I take a walk every day during my lunchtime, all in the same neighborhood, on the same route. Today included the usual startling honks, hollers, etc. that cause me to feel tense about every single car and human that passes by. It’s a feeling of bracing myself for impact. That’s really what it is. You never know when it’s coming, how long it will last, and how frequently it will happen during one “round” of walking outside of four walls, into public.
With all of the harassers being in passing vehicles, it was difficult to do anything other than give them the finger, or yell obscenities back. I don’t usually shout back, but I was feeling overly frustrated and objectified today. I even ran after a truck when the driver was stopped at a light, to write down the plate number. Enough is enough.
For the past month or so, there have been a group of men working in the gravel yard of a metal-structuring company. There are always massive metal beams that are being loaded onto truck beds, by the use of cranes and forklifts. These men have stared at me every time I’ve passed by since they’ve begun working there. I’ve walked by this place for over two years, with no incidents until now. They will literally stop what they’re doing and freeze, their eyes boring into me like fucking lasers, I tell you. And that smiiiile. I’m sure you know the one.
Today was different, because I got fed up with it. They’ve been saying things to me in Spanish (“Hola, bebe,” for example), and then pretending that they’re conversing with the other men when I look at them. They don’t know that I can understand them, and it’s hilarious.
I don’t remember what it was they were saying at me today. All I see are gums flapping at this point, to be honest. As I was approaching, I counted three of those smiles, and I couldn’t count the stares. One of the men driving the forklift closest to me said something as I passed, so I slowed my pace and stared back at them. Two of them continued to stare and smile, even looking through the gaps in the metal beams when I was out of sight for one split second. Since they continued to stare and talk at me, I decided to video-record them with my phone. I wasn’t actually recording anything, but they didn’t know that. The one in the forklift asked, “Oh you want a video?” To which I replied, “Yep!” and held the phone pointed at him. HE was now the focus. HE was the one being watched while he was simply minding his own business. He laughed nervously, looked away, and went back to his work. Not another word to or about me. For one second, I WAS INVISIBLE TO HIM.
Once I returned to my workplace, I called the company that the men work for. The receptionist listened intently to the problem I was reporting, and I could swear she sounded happy that a woman chose to speak up. I was then connected to the manager, who was incredibly understanding. It blew me away. He said, “Wow. Those guys work for me, so I’ll be sure to talk to them about this.” He even gave me his name and cell-phone number, and told me to call him immediately if this ever happens again. He apologized that this was happening to me, and truly seemed disgusted at these people.
Neither the receptionist nor the manager seemed aware in any way that this was happening. And that’s part of the problem. Workplace harassment happens out-of-sight of authority. These men knew that the manager couldn’t see or hear them, and they’ve had a field day with it. It’s a game of power-play that I chose to end.
I was walking to Starbucks, trying to cross the road and a car of guys started yelling at me to fuck off, that I need to die and that I was a whore.
I just left my gym class at 7:30am and was walking to work. A man walking towards me started coming close to me and speaking in another language with a gross look on his face. He started making those kissy sounds (over and over) and then kept talking. I wanted to punch him in the face. But I didn’t. Because he was bigger then me and because what if he was crazy? Who gave him the right?
“…in 77 countries it is a crime to be gay. In 10 of those countries it can cost you your life…There is literally no country in the world where LGBT people are treated equally under the law.” #hollarev
Today’s video from HOLLA::Revolution 2014 features Hayley Conway from All Out (@allout), taking on place and history, and calling out homophobic harassment and gender policing in the streets. Watch the video below!
Was catcalled at about 21:10 tonight as I was headed home from lab by some asshat in a white work truck. He just kinda screamed loudly out his window, clearly intent on startling me. This happens pretty much every night on this street, whether I’m alone or with my friends, so I wasn’t surprised. I just flipped him the bird and kept walking. It’s getting REALLY old. This was on South Road right before the driveway into the Park and Ride or Josephine Butler College and after I had passed Collingwood.
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