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At Hollaback!, we are going to start doing guest posts. You will see a lot more of these when we re-launch our site in July. Please note, these posts do not necessarily reflect our views. They are intended to start a conversation and reflect a diversity of tactics. If you would like to submit your HOLLAperspective, send it to holla (at) ihollaback.org.
I don’t believe that guys on the street hollering at women believe they’re going to get a date: it’s definitely about entitlement, if not harassment.
And yes, it just keeps coming: I’m 60 and fat, both of which are great for lessening street harassment, but even age and padding haven’t ended it completely, I’m sorry to tell you.
However, while living in New York City for a decade as an under five-foot tall girl I evolved a system that’s kept me safe for 40 years, while getting rid of the PUAs (self-styled Pick Up Artists), harassers, stalkers or whichever strange man was bothering me in a public place. (With the added pleasure of embarrassing some, and scaring off others.)
Ignoring strange men intent on a pickup on the street often didn’t work: they had the “excuse” that I may not have heard them, and while repeating their harassment some of ’em worked themselves up into a lather that that I was being “rude” because I’d ignored them.
Sorry: Yelling at the clods to leave me alone only resulted in a psycho screaming at the top of his lungs that he could do whatever he wanted to me, while following, for blocks.
After a couple years, I discovered that the key to successfully dealing with street harassment from men was to acknowledge it in a dull monotone, and pretend it was—get this—a matter of “manners.”
I come from the generation whose parents insisted children learn basic manners, including “Please”, “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome,” so I respond with that politesse automatically, to this day.
Even when the situation may not warrant it. But when my disinterested, but seemingly polite, “No, thank you,” to a street harasser’s request (for a date, coffee, whatever) actually stopped him, dumbfounded in his tracks, I realized I may have stumbled onto something workable.
From there on in, to every approach I’d repeat in a neutral or monotone, “I’m terribly sorry, but I never speak to strangers on the street,” (or variation “I‘m sorry, but I never speak to strangers.”) rinse and repeat, while moving on. (Don’t smile, that can be seen as an encouragement.)
An neutral tone and overtly “polite” response didn’t give the psychos or PUAs an excuse to abuse me for my disinterest, or to continue to harass me, usually.
A request of any sort from the street harasser was also responded to, again, in an emotionless, “No, thank you.” Rinse and repeat, while moving away at a deliberate pace.
(With a bonus: if the request has been obscene, and guy has friends around him, they then laughed at him after my “polite” response.)
However, if the clod persisted after “polite” neutral-toned dismissals, I discovered how to deflect that attack, too—largely because when someone was rude enough to frighten me, my next natural response was anger that he’d had the nerve.
The one time I was groped, on an up escalator at Port Authority bus terminal, the guy behind me grabbed my thigh.
My natural, indignant response, ”Are you insane?” had him backing down the escalator, apologizing.
Righteous indignation after a line crossed, usually resulted in a PUA or strange man backing away and apologizing, believe it or not— as long as I made it a matter of manners.
“Do you realize how rude it is to follow me and frighten me!” Late at night, followed through empty blocks by drunks, and yet invariably apologized to.
However, if there were other people on the street and I was being followed, I’d point it out calmly, “That man is following me,” and cross the street. That would end THAT.
After I moved to Los Angeles and a guy in a sports car followed me for blocks through Beverly Hills after I’d politely told him, no I didn’t want a ride, I turned and said, “I said, no thank you.”
Another block of following, and I turned and spat, “Listen buddy, don’t fuck with me — I’m from New York.”
At which point, PUA and sports car peeled out.
(WARNING: If, after your neutral or monotone “polite” response the harasser immediately cycles into anger or abuse, don’t escalate the situation: repeat over and over in the same neutral tone, “I’m not interested. Please go way. Please go away,” as you move away. No rise out of you, and he doesn‘t have the excuse he wants to escalate the abuse. At least, that‘s how I got rid of a multiple offender.)
So that’s the system: “polite” response in emotionless monotone, rinse and repeat, while moving on, usually deflects the harassers. Until or unless he crosses the line, and then righteous indignation usually backs them off.
However, if your harasser is abusively angry from the gitgo, neutral tone or monotone requests for him to leave you alone, repeated endlessly, is better for getting rid of him and keeping you safe.
I’d also recommend you keep the number of the local police station on speed dial — 911 isn’t as fast from a cell. I now work in a public place where I don’t have the option of leaving when harassed, but when several monotone requests for them to leave hasn’t worked, threatening to call the police, flipping open my phone and/or actually calling the cops, or a more local authority, has sent my harassers running, or at least ambling, away. However, I’ve also never shown fear while doing so, I spoke in the same calm, emotionless tone of voice — I think guys who harass women on the street get some sort of satisfication from frightening or upsetting those women.
The above system has kept me safe for four decades as a woman living in several big cities, as well as giving me a way to respond to harassers that gave them no satisfaction.
This is my first time writing Hollaback! I’m writing to you as a passive, introverted, fed-up, woman. I’m 24 years old, and I’ve lived in NYC since I was 20. Okay, I get it. Men are going to cat-call me, and it makes me feel….well, you know exactly how it feels. A couple of months ago one of those sketchy $1 pizza places opened up on 38th & 8th and EVERY SINGLE DAY one of the guys who works there whistles SO loud at me- then all of the other workers stare. I’ve seen him do it to other women too, and it is even more annoying because it’s SO busy on that corner and the loud whistle gets the attention of everyone on the block. I’ve googled the business, but I’ve found no corporate or franchise info. However, I absolutely needed to write an angry email to someone… lucky you! Is there anything I can do to regain my dignity at 8:30am every weekday morning? Or do I have to walk out of my way down another block to feel like a decent individual again?
Submitted by Jennifer
The New York Times covers “Hey Baby,” the street harassment video game. I was shocked the author hadn’t experienced street harassment personally, until I noticed the name “Seth” in the by-line…woops!
Also, listen to our own Emily May discuss the video game with the creator on NPR: http://n.pr/cAs6pb
***Favorite Emily quote of the interview: “No, I did not like shooting guys at all. I will be totally frank. It totally freaked me out… I would much rather have had a bar of soap to go around washing their mouths out with than I would a gun.”
For anyone in your life who needs an educational introduction to the problem of street harassment, Melody Thomas “calls out the catcallers” and even gives a shout out to Hollaback!
Miss D.C. has been speaking out about street harassment, and defends her position in a new interview:
Here is an update on global street harassment and the response to “eve teasing” in Bangladesh:
More coverage of “Eve Teasing Protection Day” is available here: http://bit.ly/bMMOB7
And finally, let’s not forget that HOLLABACK LONDON has LAUNCHED!!!!! http://www.hollabackldn.com/ I heart solidarity. Also, how awesome is the nail art at Wah Nails, supporters of the movement to end street harassment http://wah-nails.com/ ?!?! I’m not usually a big manicure girl, but these guys might have turned me into a believer.
Everyday is a HOLLAday
Hollaback! iPhone App & Site Launch Party
Come and celebrate the beginning of the end of street harassment! After five years of running Hollaback as a blog, we’re growing up, relaunching our site, and launching an iPhone app that will track exactly when and where street harassment happens. We’re building a world where everyone has the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy – one hollaback at time.
Dolly Trolly and DJs Miss Bliss and Emily Allen will be spinning killer tunes throughout the night. More entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets are $12 at the door
And $8 for our fabulous KickStarter contributors!
All proceeds benefit Hollaback!
Get in for FREE by becoming a HOLLAhero!
To become a HOLLAhero you can either:
-Bring 10 friends
-Bring 5 friends and 1 silent auction item
-Bring 2 silent auction items
Please note, HOLLAheroes must sign up in advance of the event.
Email Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in becoming a HOLLAhero or for event details.
UPDATE: We’re thrilled to announce that we have an Android app and SMS texting in the works as well!
To read the lyrics or meet the genius, click here.
“You’re beautiful” he said, running towards me from his concrete truck on my block. Once he stopped running and I stopped worrying that it was going to escalate, I thought to myself: “hell yes I am!” but I’m also smart, loving, and passionate. Why don’t people yell those things at me?
Oh right, I forgot.
All the world is a stage. Unless you’re a woman, in which case it’s a pageant.
Well, Hollaback, here is my story.
I was inside my car, so not sure if this qualifies as street harassment, but it was incredibly scary and some of it was sexual, so I thought I would share. I don’t have pictures because I was driving and wanted to get where it was safe. At that point I whipped out my phone and called 911. Supposedly they sent someone there to deal with the mob.
I was driving home from a late night roller derby practice and went through a student-heavy area of town to get home. This isn’t my normal route, but of course after roller skating for two hours I needed ice cream. So I ended up on Green Street. I forgot about the Stanley Cup since I’m not a hockey fan, but started noticing throngs of people in hockey jerseys and realized what was going on.
Then I got to a mob of at least fifty people, almost entirely men, cheering on one man as he hoisted a young woman over his shoulder and ran her across the street. I couldn’t tell if it was consensual and they were joking around; it seemed consensual but I know that women are good at looking like they are going along with something when afraid for their lives as a defense mechanism. A burly man in a Harley was waiting at the stop light ahead of me and we watched the mob.
When the light turned green, the mob rushed out at us. They tried to make a tunnel for the motorcyclist, who just slowly and carefully picked his way past them. They didn’t give him a lot of trouble, and he looked like he could have kicked their scrawny college asses. But then my tiny 2001 Honda Civic came along, with a woman driving and a baby seat in the back.
Instead of parting out of the way, the mob swarmed me. At least twenty of them surrounded my car, cheering and screaming at me, putting their faces in the windows, hitting my car, spitting on it and throwing beer at it. One man was videotaping the whole thing from his phone, slowly walking in front of me and leering. Another man jumped in front of my car and kept pretending to be hit by it, and then to additional cheers started fondling his package and dancing in front of my car. I was petrified I was going to accidentally hit one of them and hurt them, even as another part of me was so angry that I wanted to hurt them. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, had one hand partially obscuring my face, and drove very, very slowly looking straight ahead, until I was clear of them.
Once I was a safe distance away, I called the police. Then I drove home, shaking all the way. I have no idea what I could have done differently and suspect any other behavior would have only made them crazier. I am so glad I happened to have all my doors locked and windows up. Who knows what would have happened if one of them had been able to get in my car (I couldn’t tell from the thumping whether they were trying the doors or not). Not only was that one of the scariest experiences of my life, I am disgusted that the Champaign Police weren’t already dealing with the mob, since by all appearances they had been harassing individuals and drivers for some time. Further, all of the men looked very young and I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of them were below drinking age.
Thank you for creating a space to share stories of street harassment. I guess it turns out that even professors can be harassed by their own students.
Submitted by Kathryn
So, you want to end street harassment. And you want to do it now. Taking action and volunteering is about more than stuffing envelopes and making calls. Here are three quick ways you can volunteer for Hollaback from the comfort of your computer:
1. We are a finalist in the “Revelation to Action” competition. Vote for us and if we win, Hollaback! wins $5,000. This will help us cover marketing costs to get the word out about Hollaback! You’ll need to quickly login before you vote.
2. Be a HOLLAhero and invite friends to attend our launch party. It’s on July 8th at Southpaw in Brooklyn. You’ll get to see our new app, new site, and meet some incredible HOLLArockstars. You’ll help spread the word about the Hollaback movement.
3. Write a glowing review of Hollaback! that will be seen by potential foundations. In case you didn’t know, foundations have BIG BUCKS! The more you write, the less we’ll need to ask you for money in the future, and the happier we will all be.
The silver car in front of the bus was a symphony of kissy. When will these frogs learn that you’ll never be a ladies prince if you keep making random kissy noises at them on the street?
Introduce yourself. Learn my name. Ask me on a date. I’ll tell you I have a boyfriend, but will admire your chivalry and refer you to my friend. Go on a date with her. Ask her what she thinks about life, politics, love. Play your cards right and then maybe you’ll be able to make some real awesome kissy noises.
Submitted by Emily May
WE MADE IT – 358 people entered and only 15 were chosen! Now, we need your help to win the prize: VOTE NOW and the world wins.
Only three weeks to vote! The three finalists with the most votes win. Change the world and vote today.