To the man at the bus stop,
I guess I don’t know how to say, “please leave me alone” in a way that you will understand. Please stop talking to me.
“If it weren’t sacred – your relationship – would you go to dinner with me?”
No. I will not go to dinner with you. It’s not because my relationship is sacred – and it is – but that doesn’t prevent me from going to dinner with people. What prevents me from going to dinner with you is that I’m not interested.
“Not interested? How can you say that? You don’t even know me.”
Well, sir, I guess I’m not that interested in getting to know you. Because you opened this conversation by asking me how pretty I think I am. And then, while looking my body up and down, you told me how much you thought I was worth. A dollar amount. As if I could be bought. As if I would be more willing to go to dinner knowing you think I’m worth more than a car. Thanks, but no thanks.
“Would you rather go to dinner with me or do drugs? Would you rather kiss me or take a drag off a cigarette? Your boyfriend doesn’t love you, you know.”
Neither. None of those. Because your options are not real options. Because that is not the reality of the situation. Because you don’t decide what my options are. And because when you got up in my face like that and started yelling, I almost hit you and yelled back, but you aren’t even worth that. You aren’t even worth eye contact.
When you left, I felt sick with relief. But I still feel sick – with disgust – because you exist out there and you talk to women like they’re sh*t. So f*ck you, you delusional f*ck.
– The kind of girl you’ll never have
BY VICTORIA FITZGERALD
On Tuesday, the Girl Scouts of Colorado spoke out in support of transgender children. This comes hot on the heels of news that the leader of a Girl Scout troop in Denver initially told 7-year-old Bobby Montoya that, despite identifying as a girl, she could not join because she had “boy parts.” The Girl Scouts of Colorado maintained that the troop leader responsible was unaware of the organization’s policy and released this statement:
“Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members… If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout… Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them.”
The Colorado branch also emphasized that they would be reaching out to the family of Bobby Montoya as well as working to customize their training programs so that all girls would be included.
Corey Barrett of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado commented on the matter:
“I think it’s all about providing a healthy environment for them for that to happen. Everyone needs to be prepared or at least have an idea from a policy and procedure stand point how they’re going to address that.”
This is such a huge step in working towards a more inclusive society where normal is normal, rather than a crazy, archaic stereotype. We say bravo to Girl Scouts Colorado for setting such a fantastic example for breaking down barriers of prejudice. But of course, we have an even bigger and more awesome round of applause for teeny tiny, bad-ass, feminist of the future, Bobby Montoya for being herself and driving a change that will benefit so many that come after her.
I was walking with two of my friends down SoHo and we were into deep conversation about something, definitely not paying attention to our surroundings and the people in the street with us. Suddenly, we notice a man walking in our direction, rudely about to walk through us. As he was getting closer, we realized that he was determined to not change his direction and walk around us so naturally we let him walk in between us. Suddenly he creepily mumbles to us “Eat each others’ pussies…” We all looked at each other like “What did this guy just say?” We were all in shock that this just came out of his mouth. We all look back at him and he was, surely enough, looking back at us, winking. It was a very disturbing experience. And it scares me that this guy thought it was totally okay to say this to us. I don’t know what he expected to get out of saying that, but I can only imagine all of the other disturbing things he’s said to other girls.
I was walking with my friends and an old man pulls on my arm, trying to talk to me. I said immediately after, in an angered tone, “Please don’t touch me.” He then started following me and my friends for two blocks in which we preceded to walk faster. I was shocked to think that this man would have the audacity to assault me with the police less than 20 feet away, I was even more shocked that the cops did nothing about it.
I was on my way home from picking up Chinese food on 134th street. I tried to cut the corner because everyday men young and old stand outside of Popeyes talking to and eyeing every girl who passes by. I passed by a silver Escalade waiting at the traffic light and the man in the passenger side said “psst, can I talk to you.” I rushed by, hearing his words, but ignoring them. Everyday I find myself listening to music so I can avoid the catcalls from men old enough to be my father.
About a month ago, I was on my way home returning from my school’s volleyball practice. I had just gotten off of the bus, and I was walking the first of two blocks to my house. On my way, I noticed a man had gotten on at the same bus stop at me, and gotten off at the same one, too. I already felt nervous. I was walking a little faster than I normally would have, trying to make it home.
He had sped up a little bit, too. When I got to the corner of the block that my house is on, I heard him give me a catcall. I was immediately freaked out. He kept calling, and started into a jog to catch up to me, as I was half a block ahead of him. I sprinted to the fire-station next to my house. I waited in the office there with the firemen who had been next door my entire life. When he saw me run there, he turned around, and went around the corner. Just to be safe, I sprinted next door, buzzed myself in, and made sure I didn’t go anywhere alone for the next week.
2 years ago, when I was 12 years old, I was walking to meet my friend. It was summer, and so I put on a pair of tight jean short-shorts. I felt sexy and beautiful and like I could conquer the world. I felt so good.
I was walking past a florist’s shop when an old man outside gave me a catcall. I spun around, staring at him. I couldn’t believe what he had just done. It was the first acknowledgement of being “sexy” or “hot” before. And it was from an old man who was wearing a wedding ring.
I didn’t know what else to do but continue walking. I felt myself to start to tear up and feel brought down. I couldn’t help but feel violated. Ashamed. I knew my shorts were short, but were they really that short? I kept thinking that it was my fault. That I was asking for it, that I was the reason I was being catcalled. And that if I wanted to dress like how I was dressing, I couldn’t dress like that.
When I got to the place I was meeting my friend, I changed in the bathroom into something more conservative. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to feel that way again.
Now, I realize that my shorts or my legs or my ass shouldn’t mean that someone should look at me, violate me, and make me feel ashamed.
A man came up to me while I was standing on the subway, put his hand on my hip and said to me “your European aren’t you ? I can tell because in Europe the women are taught to be so sensual in nature.”
As a woman in Pakistan traveling on public transport is like running the gauntlet, except there is no where to run, particularly in Islamabad. For schoolgirls and working females the daily commute is plagued by vulgar drivers with the self-control of a rabble of rabid mutts.
The severity of this issue manifests itself in the inability for the female to remove herself from the situation. She is trapped in silence until she reaches her destination, acutely aware that she neither wants to make a scene nor raise attention to incidents like these.
Islamabad resident Faiza Bibi told Pakistan Today that the vast majority of drivers harass their female passengers verbally and physically by making lewd comments and touching them whilst changing gear as they sat they sat next to them in the front seats. She continued:
“Women have no other option since they have to sit on the front seats, next to the driver, because they are the only seats meant for women.”
Khadija Ali of the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment told Pakistan Today that the country’s Sexual Harassment legislation applies mostly to situations occurring in the work place and suggested that women dealing with such incidences should complain to the police. However, one commuter, Attiya Nawaz complained to a traffic police officer that some bus drivers were pulling the curtain behind the front seats so that passengers in the back seats could not see them harassing the women.
According to a survey conducted by the Social Research and Development Organization, 92 percent of commuting women and girls would prefer female-only buses, a facility that does not exist. Despite government past plans to provide a women only public transport system, financial constraints have prevented the plans moving forward.
This report comes a day after a ZEENEWS.com story covering Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s address to a reception hosted by Commissioner Adam Thompson, where Khar told guests that women in Pakistan were “more empowered than those in other developing countries.” How can this be if they live in fear of travelling to school and work everyday? 92 percent is a staggering number that feel so frightened that they would rather have female only transport
So, we at Hollaback! want to encourage the Pakistan ladies to do exactly that! Do not accept this! We need a Hollaback! site in Pakistan to raise public awareness of street harassment and educate people about what behavior is acceptable on the streets and on public transport. I have messaged Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar about the situation and will keep you all posted on her comments. In the mean time if you know anyone with contacts in Islamabad that would like to launch a Hollaback! site then encourage them to do so! We all need to work together to Hollaback! at harassers on the streets of Pakistan and on public transport.