Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
My neighborhood in Astoria is quiet, mostly. It’s safe, mostly. And for the most part its residents have never given me any kind of trouble.
One day I was walking home from my friend’s apartment along 31st street. It was summer so I was wearing cut-off jean shorts and a tank. I know that my outfit had nothing to do with it, but for a while I stopped wearing tank tops in public thinking this was the cause.
It was the middle of the day so the street was almost empty except for a largish (5+) group of young teens sitting outside an apartment building. Now, I try not to profile, but in my experience groups of teenage boys are trouble, and I am usually right. I put on my sunglasses and walked past them, avoiding eye contact.
Well, to my surprise I made it past them without any trouble when I heard that sound that will make the hairs on most women’s arms stand on end. The kissy noise. What happened next you could say was my fault, I should have kept walking, but I had had it. Here was a group of kids almost half my age with the nerve to make that awful sound at me. So I turned around and said, “are you f*cking serious? How old are you?” To which the larger of the group said “Old enough to f*ck you like a grown man”. At this point one of his friends says, “Girl I am gonna f*ck you with some chopsticks”. I’m half-Chinese, and was appalled that this brat had added racism onto the growing pile of sexual harassment. Various other insults followed, “skinny b*tch”, “dumb c*nt”, etc. I always wonder why, if I’m such a dumb etc., etc. why they tried to “holla at” me in the first place…
There were over five of them, and just one of me, so I decided to walk away. I called the police and told them a group of young men had verbally assaulted me and threatened me with sexual abuse. The officer offered his condolences but told me that since they had not physically assaulted me there was nothing he could do. While I agree that the police probably do not have the resources to investigate every instance of harassment, it made me feel alone, weak, and even slutty. I felt that because I was wearing a thin tank top I had somehow brought this onto myself.
When did it become okay for young boys to talk to older women this way? To threaten them in their own neighborhoods with this kind of sexualized, and sometimes racialized, violence? I was so disgusted, so horrified. And honestly to this day I have not walked down that street again.
Submitted by Jen
So here I am, a 17 year old girl, black (it matters) in her school uniform, just going to the mall to get some stuff, and I hear it.
“Hey-o, pretty girl, lemme holla! Why the long face? I got some stuff to make you smile!”
I was actually about to spin around and tell him to pop off, but when I looked at him, I saw he ran one of the vendors selling lotions in the hallways of the mall.
Why is it cool to act this way towards me? I watched this guy ask other women “Hey, miss, would you like to buy some lotions?” But as soon as a black girl walks by you switch up your game? And you don’t even care that she’s obviously underage? FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON.
I just wanted to the MAC counter and get out, so I gave him the dirtiest look that I save especially for scumbags like him and kept walking.
Submitted by Mariel
Hollaback embodies all that is strong, powerful, and badass about being a woman today, and reflects a global female solidarity that knows no racial, age, or geographic boundaries. As such, we seek three men or women who can represent and illustrate these values in written form.
Selected writers need to be able to commit to blogging a minimum of twice per week about key stories and milestones in the anti-harassment movement in a voice that is bold and street harassment savvy.
Interested candidates should submit a sample piece for publication by February 10, 2011 on a topic that you feel is important, timely, and of interest to Hollaback readers. Accompanying your piece should be a brief description of you, why the anti-harassment movement is important to you, and how you represent a unique voice.
Bloggers will be selected for diversity of voice and quality of writing and can hail from anywhere in the world. To submit your sample piece and accompanying information, please email everything in the body of an email to [email protected]
So the other day I had what Oprah would call an “A-ha” moment. Though I prefer to refer to it my “Get the fuck out of my personal space you male-privilege-assuming bastard” episode. Just has a nicer ring to it.
Anyways, I was at a gas station and had just finished filling up when an older gentleman clad in overalls (I live in NC) ambled over to stand RIGHT in front of me, blocking my entrance back into the driver’s seat of my beloved automobile.
He tried to start up some inane conversation about gas prices, which were SO HIGH these days compared to when he was young. Pissed off that he wasn’t getting my subtle “step-back-random-dude” vibes, I thought about asking if his first car was a Model T. But, as he kept inching creepily closer to me, I just said very firmly “I need to get back in my car.”
But that’s not what HE wanted.
The lovely gent actually shook his head no and tried to keep talking, all the while inching closer and closer toward me. In my mind I found myself running through all those perpetrator-excusing things we’re taught to do as women…Maybe this guy was just a little crazy, bless his heart, or actually was trying to pick me up but didn’t know how to go about it…but then IT CLICKED.
I didn’t, and I don’t, give a damn why a STRANGER chooses to disrespect my personal space with unwanted interaction. When I say leave me alone, it means LEAVE ME ALONE.
So I screamed at the top of my lungs “Get out of my way” so loudly the man literally winced, covered his ears and RAN back to his truck that was parked near by. People were looking and he was embarrassed.
It, was awesome.
And empowering. Worse things have happened to me, but this was one of the first times I’ve ever responded so powerfully. It felt good and it balanced out the “ick” factor.
I truly believe that HollaBack helped me to be so assertive. Reading through your blog’s entries and article links has helped me understand what street harassment is really about: Power. Making women feel less than men in public spaces, making us feel like prey, whether we’re in a power suit or a sundress. Making us feel like we’re the property of any and every man on the street.
This won’t be the last time some stranger thinks he can treat me like I exist for his amusement.
But, I’m going to keep being loud. I’m going to keep holding harassers accountable whenever I feel safe enough to do so. And it’s going to feel good, oh so good.
Death to the “good girl,” I say.
Ladies, it’s time for us to get mean.
Submitted by Beth
I was leaving Cosi when a young man (probably in his mid 20s) approached me. He said, “nice pussy” and reached out to grab mine. I simply blocked his hand and stared him down until he broke eye contact. I continued on my way, and looked back to see that he was still standing there. I guess he didn’t get the reaction he anticipated.
I didn’t speak to him, but if I could, here’s what I would say:
“Damn right, I have a nice pussy. But you will never get anywhere near it.”
Submitted by Kate
Now that’s what we’re talking about! This movement just keeps getting better and better.
Holy cow. We knew it was a big year for anti-harassment successes but had no idea just how big until seeing it all written down in one place. Holly Kearl of Stop Street Harassment has compiled a recap of some of the year’s most important and fascinating stories and accomplishments, including highlights of women standing up to their harassers as submitted to her blog.
She remembers Lisa Robinson, the Welsh woman who stood on the train tracks so that her apathetic conductor was forced to call the police after she was verbally abused in front of her husband and 5-year old son throughout her ride by a group of drunken sports fans.
And she recalls that itty bitty accomplishment, the street harassment city council meeting (!), that the movement earned in October.
Congratulations, ladies, to you and to all of our male friends who have taken a stand—your hollabacks have propelled all of this. When you hollaback, your courage and your solidarity show other women in your city and around the world that it can be done, and how they can do it. When you report your harasser, it makes it that much easier for the next woman or child to report and identify her harasser. So hollaback in 2011 and pay it forward.
Here’s to even greater successes in the new year and to thousands more hollabacks from YOU.
I was riding the train with my then-partner on the way to see a movie in town, when this happened. As we boarded the train, a conductor went up to these four kids, and warned them for disruptive behaviour. My partner and I took seats near them (which looking back seems like the first mistake) and settled for the short journey. We were sitting talking, and randomly poking each other, which is usual for us, and the four kids continued shouting and messing around.
One of the girls sat behind us and asked my partner for some gum. She said she didn’t have any, though the girl remained where she sat. She then asked if we were together. My partner and I, having nothing to hide or be ashamed of, replied that we were. The one boy in the group asked if we were in love, and my partner replied the affirmative.
It descended from there. The boy joined the girl behind us and kept asking for us to kiss for him. He kept pushing, and nearly begging for us to. My partner replied no, first jokingly, and then she eventually snapped “If you want to see two girls kissing, watch porn!”.
He whined that he had seen porn and he wanted to see it in real life – I continued to remain silent. The coach we were in was not nearly empty, and I was somewhat horrified that no one had thought to do anything but look away awkwardly. Thankfully, the next stop was ours. We stood, and I followed my partner to the door. The group followed us, and as we were waiting, they kept pushing on each other, and therefore me. Once the doors opened, a lot of people got out, while this group practically pushed me off the train. My partner took my hand and while I set off at a fast pace to get away, she slowed me down.
The boy continued to follow us, and kept on with his incessant begging. My partner and I ignored him, and spoke only to each other, until he peeled off to join the girls of his group. We were left alone after that.
I am ashamed that I didn’t speak up, and that my partner was the one to deal with this harassment. I remember this incident clearly, and feel scared by it, but it was almost laughable how this boy was clearly obsessed about seeing us kiss.
Get it through your heads – we do not exist for your amusement. We are not objects to stare at, or to entertain yourself with. We are humans, with hearts and souls and feelings, and I will not be dehumanised by your fetishisms. I refuse.
Submitted by Emma
I was cycling along on the road beside Hyde Park, just before a junction and going down a really steep hill. A man in a car had pulled into a side road to do a U-turn, and while he was doing it I drew alongside on my bike, so at the point he was ready to leave return to the main road I was in the way. For, ooh, at least 10 whole seconds. I mention this because it is the only motivation I can see for his behaviour. I raised my hand to indicate my thanks for him not pulling straight out and flattening me, only to be greeted with “Hey I can see your knickers love!”
Had I not been travelling too fast and, you know, a bit put out by this I would have liked to say, “Oh can you indeed. If that is so then I suggest you look the other way, because there is literally nothing I can do about it right now, unless you would like me to cause a multi-car pile up trying to pull my skirt down as I negotiate traffic and a hill – which would in all probability involve your car and at the very least delay your journey more than the fraction of a minute I already have.”
Instead I shouted “thanks a lot you prick” and felt humiliated, flustered, self-conscious and confused. Which is how you want someone to feel ON A MOVING BIKE. IN TRAFFIC. ON A HILL. I mean, do you WANT to cause an accident?
And although he shouted it, it was in a sort of cheerful tone of voice, as though either he was pleased about it or was offering some sort of friendly heads-up. I just don’y understand.
Submitted by Het