Street harassment in the media

Navigating the fine line between street harassment and not knowing how talk to women.

“…And while human kindness is free and something we should all attempt to keep in abundant supply, it’s also unfair to demand that a woman is constantly doing hostess duty for every Tom, Dick and Hakeem who wants to demand a few minutes of her time,” writes The Beautiful Struggler in “Real Talk, Wrong Talk”. Insert big nod here.

Another quote from The Beautiful Struggler we like? “No one likes feeling like prey, or as if they are auditioning for a sexual role they have no interest in playing.” Right on.

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Verbal

Bystanders hollaback, too

Walking to the subway on my lunch break yesterday I came upon a group of losers loitering around the entrance. I heard them call to a woman behind me who was also trying to reach the stairs to get to the platform. One of the men apparently needed some attention and proceeded to follow the woman, saying all sorts of things like “oh yeah baby, yeah…” I was like, who are you? Austin Powers? This is lame…So, with the girl behind me (who was trying her best to ignore that this creep was following her, I stopped and looked at the man and said “Why don’t you guys show some respect for women in the streets and stop harassing them? You don’t need to say things like that to women” in a totally quizzical and non-threatening manner. The guy’s eyes darted from me to the girl and back to me again and he was obviously very confused. “What?” he said, not so “smooth” anymore. In fact he just seemed like a dumb little boy and just sort of walked off. It was so easy. I kept walking and I heard the girl call out “Thank you” to me from behind me. I felt really good.

Submitted by Vee

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Uncategorized

Your fancy phallic crane, my badass response

This guy sure thinks he’s a hotshot when he’s on the end of this big fancy phallic crane. So he decides to catcall a few ladies on their way to the train station this morning. As soon as I told him I was taking his photo for Hollaback fame, he didn’t feel so good anymore. And then all his buddies started laughing at him.

This happens a lot at this construction site. You stay classy, Carroll Gardens!

Submitted by Katharine

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racial discrimination, Verbal

When lines of racial and sexual harassment blur together into one crappy situation

I’m prefacing this story with the fact that I’m a person of color as race unfortunately comes up in this already crappy situation.

Yesterday, I woke up late for work and as I was scrambling to get out the door, I left my headphones and book at home – my usual way of blocking out street creeps. The whole day I was noticing that guys were just staring at my chest and saying creepy things. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t distracted by music that I was noticing it so much. After the third leering fool, I said to myself, “The next comment I get, I’m going to snap.”

On my way home from work, I had to walk through that long passage from the 1,2,3 trains to the L and I noticed that a guy was walking next to me and keeping in stride with me. I tried to ignore him but then he said, “You look like you’ve had a long day…” I continued to ignore him. Then he said, “Oh, that’s how it is? That’s how you get off?” And…I snapped. I said to him, “Leave me the fuck alone, dude. I don’t know you. Just get away from me and leave me alone.” He paused and then started to scream, “You stupid bitch. You stupid fucking bitch. Look at your converse – you want to be white, you fake white bitch!” I’m still in the passage way and there is no where to go but forward or backwards. I continue to say “Leave me alone.” and try to push through the crowd of people. He is still screaming until we get to the L train platform where he attempts to get into the same car as me but I duck into another one at the last minute.

I don’t regret saying something though I have this feeling of shame and failure as well.

Submitted by ACP

4 comments 
Verbal

We’ve got to stand up and support each other

I went to the local shop which was just across the street from my house. It was dark and the street was empty apart from a white transit van across the road next to the shop door. As i was crossing the road a man got out of the transit. He screamed at me ‘You see you. I’m gonna come over there and fuck you. get hold of you by the neck like a ferret’. He was furious and punching the air to point at me. I felt humiliated and frightened because of his threat and anger towards me for merely existing! I ignored him and went back home.

What was worse is how the girls I lived with didn’t believe me. They just ignored what I told them. It was a double wammy – i felt angry that someone thought they could verbal threaten me in the street and worried about what could have happened. But then that no one cared made me feel plain stupid!

Submitted by Janet

2 comments 
Verbal

What a (terrible) role model

I was 17 and working as a waitress in a small local restaurant on a fairly slow afternoon. A man in his late forties came in with his two sons, the oldest of whom appeared to be 13. They were the only ones in the restaurant, so I was cleaning tables and trying to keep busy while their food was being prepared. First the dad called me over to tell me how hot his sons apparently thought I was. Then he called me over to tell me that one of them wanted my number. Finally, he called me over and asked if he could take a picture of my ass for his sons. I just responded, “That is incredibly inappropriate”, and marched off to get my manager, George, from the back. Of course, George was like a dad to everyone there and threw down his apron and stormed to the front of the store in a rage to confront them. But by then, they had ran out of the restaurant. Without paying.

Submitted by Jackie

2 comments 
flashing

Serial flasher on the loose in Brooklyn

On the day before thanksgiving, a man walks up the window of the shop where my sister works and  exposes his erect penis. She is traumatized by this event and we discuss the incident last night over drinks at our local bar. As we’re leaving the bar, the SAME pervert walks by and exposes himself again to her (and me and a few of our friends).  It’s around 1am, but this is a busy street in Brooklyn and there are several other people around. We shout and yell at him that he’s a worthless piece of s*@t and make a huge scene but he just walks away backwards and nonchalantly with his erect penis out. None of the other witnesses (all male) say or do anything.

Submitted by Shannon

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Verbal

10 minutes, three harassers

I was first verbally harassed by a man in an SUV walking east on fulton across from Marcy. He told me to “slow down, slow down” several times before I turned around and gave him the finger. I then crossed the street and went into a store.

On my way back, I was harassed a second time by a small group of young men outside the McDonalds. The first guy showed me a large wad of cash as I passed, while the second guy asked me “Can I taste it?”, to which I replied “that’s disgusting, have some respect!”

As I crossed the street and turned onto my block, I heard another guy behind me making comments and noises under his breath. It both enrages and scares me that this amount of harassment is a typical occurrence in a ten minute round-trip walk from my home to the store and back. I am still enraged and wanted to physically hurt all of these men. The tension I’m still feeling in my stomach also comes from fear of a backlash from talking back to my harassers.

Submitted by Diane

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homophobic

Satan doesn’t love, I do.

I’m walking down the sidewalk holding hands with my girlfriend when a guy sitting at a cafe table yells, “Satan lives!”  My girl sez, “yeah, he does!” and we keep walking.

Submitted by Dragonfly

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flashing

I know you’re mentally ill, but that doesn’t make this less scary

Ug. I can’t believe it. I got on the red line at Park Street and noticed this mentally ill older man right across from me. I noted how he was talking to himself, pounding his library book on his lap and shaking his head. At MGH a young woman got on our train car in a jean skirt with no tights (brrrrrrrrrr!) and he just became fixated on the poor woman. Staring at her. I drifted into my own world. As we are pulling into Central Square I see that he’s held his book up over his crotch and is fidgeting with something. I was shocked. When I stood up to get off (thankfully this was my stop), I confirmed that he had unzipped his pants. I didn’t look long enough to see what he was doing down there. I totally admire that woman in NYC. I talk back to cat callers and never hesitate to speak my mind, but I was literally paralyzed. Maybe if it hadn’t been my stop I could have gotten myself together enough to call him out in the same way or get a photo, but I am happy to have just gotten away from the situation right away. His mental instability was a bit scary too. Now I’m left feeling utterly disgusted and violated. Man…

Submitted by Anna

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