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Yesterday I was walking to the post office, feeling strong and standing up straight, happy to be feeling confident and grounded in my body. I recently moved with my partner to Philadelphia from our home in the Bay area Ca, and am still adjusting to a new city, but yesterday for the first time, I felt at home in my body here.
A man took that from me. He was just a random guy on the street, walking back to his car, but he may as well have knocked me over and kicked me. “Wassup Baby,” he said as he passed me. And then as I tried to speed up he watched me from behind and said “Nice ass.” I felt like every inch of my strength deflated with one breath, I was a puddle on the sidewalk.
I could feel his eyes on my body as I walked away, and I just wanted to disappear, but I couldn’t… So I just froze. I stood there, on the street, waiting to get up the courage to turn around and tell him that was NOT ok to talk to me that way. To explain how much his words cut through me like a knife, making me into a naked shell of myself. I stood there for what seemed like forever, as I heard him get into his car and zoom off. I stood there even after he was gone, ashamed of myself that I could not stand up for myself, for women, for our bodies that are forever under attack.
This was not the first time I had been harassed, but somehow it struck me differently, maybe because I am in a new place and far from home. Why is this ok? Why does this happen everywhere? I am now an adult woman, I don’t dress in a way that invites any attention to my body from strangers. I have a loving and respectful boyfriend who affirms my right to own my body every day, and I feel stronger now than when I got harassed as a teenager or even a few years ago. But yesterday, that man made me feel like nothing anyway. I wish there were more places like this website, where the force and weight of street harassment and all it leads to was acknowledged. How can we create more space for this issue to be recognized for the oppression that it is? I’m still searching. For now, thank you for making this space.
Submitted by Reena
I was influenced by the plight faced by poor Ines Sainz, the reporter who confronted the New York Jets about sexual harassment, to post this. This is for you…
As you’re going to see here, this guy leered at me and, when I approached and confronted him about it, he got pissed and called me a “white girl” and, when he thought the camera wasn”t rolling, he said to me, “Fuck you.” This was not or ever meant to be a compliment. This was male entitlement, sexual harassment and the belief that, because, to him, I am an object, not a human being, a woman, he could intrude into my boundaries as he wished and maybe take my body as he pleased. The days of women being men’s property or second class citizens is over (And DON’T cite my profession (which is acting as a fantasy) because that is the rape mentality by using a woman’s morals to justify the abnegation of a woman’s right to consent – just as the moral police do in Afghanistan ). Little does he know or care that when he does that, he disrespects the very women that gave him life: his mother, sister or daughter. This happens to every woman worldwide, regardless of how they dress, appear, act (Egypt, where burqas are common, instituted a law which mandated a year jail sentence for sexual harassment). Thank goodness a fellow women in a high position to correct this wasn’t brainwashed by misogyny and took the plight of a fellow sister seriously.
In this country, we have an egregious rape epidemic of major proportions. It’s called the rape mentality. Women are being and have been told that if they wear a certain outfit, look attractive or, in any shape, manner and form, appear titilating to men, then they were asking for it! Really, what’s being said is is that, because you are a woman, you were asking for it. The whore/virgin complex is being used to facilitate and justify harm against women with the male entitlement/ rape mentality being used as a system to keep women oppressed and in check.
This is why I DON’T fuck with men unless they are tricks!
The rape mentality has got to go and more women need to start confronting these mofos. To any man who doesn’t understand – thank you for changing my sexual orientation!
Please join us as we talk about the revolution at Barnard on Monday, October 25th at 6:30pm!
Speakers include: Emily May from Hollaback!, Shannon Lynberg and Chai Shenoy from HollabackDC, and Oraia Reid from RightRides.
Here’s the description: Street harassment, or sexual harassment in public spaces, is an issue with which just about every woman has some experience. Activists from New York City and Washington, DC will discuss new, innovative ways to combat street harassment using technology, mapping, and community organizing. Through online activism, public policy and advocacy, and outreach, these activists have succeeded in giving people from many different communities a forum in which they can speak out against gender-based street harassment.
For more details, click on the facebook invite here. Spread the word by inviting your friends.
See you there!
Since I moved to New York City from the Midwest four months ago, I’ve been harassed almost every day. I always just try to ignore it. Tonight, I was walking down Seventh Avenue to meet my parents and boyfriend for dinner, when an older guy yelled, “Hey gorgeous, anyone ever tell you you’re beautiful?” As usual, I ignored him and kept walking, but the guy kept following me, yelling out, “Hey beautiful, c’mere,” and the usual stuff like that. I started to get a little scared; the route I’d planned would take me down a quiet street, away from bystanders and lights, and he was still following me closely.
I stopped to wait to cross the street, and the guy stopped with me, still catcalling. Without planning to, I looked the guy straight in the eye, glared, held up my hand, and said, “Dude. Not cool. Go somewhere else.” He looked startled, and I said something like, “You shouldn’t bother people like that. Go away and leave me alone.” I made a shooing gesture–and he left! He turned right around and crossed the street, away from me. I couldn’t believe that it had worked–or that I’d stood up for myself like that!
Thanks for letting me share my story, and for helping me find the confidence to Hollaback. Maybe that guy will think twice before he harasses someone else.
Submitted by Hannah
“Hello.. beautiful, gorgeous..” This guy tried to bother me & my friend and a young woman 15 ft. behind us. I turned around, “Smile!” He said if we waited he’ll take off his shirt.
I was sitting on the train one day and had my ipod on blast not paying attention to anything, mind you that day I decided to wear a skirt, a guy walks in wearing a yankees hat very low to hide his face i found this very strange, he sat across from me and was looking at me for a period of time . I noticed his arms were low and i looked at his hands , there I saw a camera phone, i had just been up skirted. I was I shocked I did not know what to do .
Submitted by Michelle
When I was 17 years old (five years ago), I was in a Walgreens Drug Store purchasing a beverage. There was an older male employee there that I would see often and chat with him occasionally regarding the weather and such innocuous subjects.
This particular afternoon, he was restocking the beverages and I commented on how cold I was. He looked at me, laughed, and lunged forward… he wrapped his arms around me and said, “Let me warm you up, baby!”
After I managed to break free from his grasp, I left and never returned to that particular Walgreens again. At the time, I was naive teenager and the first thing I thought to myself was “What did *I* do to cause this to happen to me? What did *I* do that made him think it was all right to grab me in such a way?” I cried for a few hours over my lost dignity and respect, and it has still haunted me. Not until I came across Hollaback! did I realize I could do something. Thank you.
Submitted by Emily