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This past summer, I submitted a harassment experience here. Recently, I told my mom about it (I’m 17) and she told me about something that happened to her and my little sister (age 10) when they were visiting me in Boston. I wanted to post it here because when children are harassed, often no one ever finds out. I wanted to make it clear that street harassment affects children too, and that my little sister is one of the lucky ones.
My mom and sister were on the Orange Line, not sure which station, when my mom noticed a youngish man staring at my little sister. She’s an exceptionally pretty little girl, so this was not altogether unusual, but my mom said that something in the way he was looking my little sister up and down made the hair stand up on the back of her neck. When the train came to the next station, my mom hustled my sister out of their car and into another car. The man followed them, still staring at my sister. At the next stop, Mom tried to switch cars again, and although the man tried to follow, they were too fast for him and escaped. My little sister never knew what was going on; Mom just told her she wanted a less crowded car.
Since then, my sister has been followed by another man here at home in Ohio on her way to and from choir practice. She was really frightened and asked my dad to drive her from now on; the stalker has since disappeared. But I’m so scared for her. Just thinking about this shit makes me want to throw up. A little girl should not have to ride a train- or walk around her own town- in fear.
Submitted by Katherine
It’s 5:15pm on New Year’s Eve. I just get off the subway from work, and I’m walking home. An older man, in his mid 50’s, looks at me and as he passes says: “Oh, she’s got hips on her — don’t let the little (something) fool you.” The man behind him, not sure if they were together, also in his mid 50’s, passes me with his elbow out to the side and says “Hey!” as he jabs me in the shoulder. I turn around, dumbfounded and unable to find words, and give him a dirty look. He says “this is New York!” as I turn the corner.
This encounter was enough to get me looking on Craigslist for a new apartment. I know that street harassment will follow me wherever I go, unfortunately, but it has never been as bad for me as it is where I live now.
Submitted by Diane
So this website has brought back all these memories through the years and given me the courage to contact offenders that I was not able to confront at the time. One was a grad school professor who stuck his finger up my butt while standing in line with him in the cafeteria. It was the grossest thing. I was so shocked and humiliated, but weirdly turned around smiling as though it was a joke and said something like “there are laws against that you know, ha ha” My response so sickens me now that I sent the following e-mail to him last week. Thanks Hollaback for giving me the courage to set the record straight.
E-mail I wrote to my long ago offender:
I should have slapped the shit out of you and started yelling at the top of my lungs “This asshole pervert just stuck his finger in my ass and I’m turning him over to the authorities.” You fucking bastard. We were in line at the cafeteria at USC. At the age of 30-something I’d not yet learned to stand up to sexual harassment in a way that was helpful. You have probably forgotten what you did to me, but if you are still sexually assaulting your female students I hope to God you’ve gotten what you deserve from at least one or two of them.
For some reason you hated me–I guess because I didn’t worship you. Your class was terrifying for me. I’d never done improv. You seemed to pick up on that, had no compassion or even the slightest interest in understanding my fear as your student of acting. You had all the power, Stephen. I know because I went on to be a university director and teacher. Then to make it worse, you made it your mission to humiliate me every chance you got.
I was in the MFA class of 1986 at USC. I took one year of your Improv class and then got released from it because it was so upsetting to me. I also remember you STILL treating me like shit year’s later at [ ]’s wedding. I don’t know why I was even at your table at the reception, but I was. What was your fucking problem with me? I should have cornered you and confronted you then.
I needed to get this off my chest because every time I get the USC alumni magazine, that memory comes back and I feel ashamed. NO MORE. You can have the shame because you are the only one who did anything wrong.
I deserve an apology and you deserve to have been reported.
I rather doubt you are man enough to even consider making amends. So be it. I’m having a damn good life surrounded by people who love and appreciate me and you, my dear, can go to hell.
Submitted by circe1223
This happened during my first fall semester at Florida State. My friend and I had gone to Pizza Hut for lunch, right down the street from our apartment. Keep in mind, my friend is Muslim and was dressed in a hijab and in very conservative clothes. I was wearing baggy shorts and an even baggier T-shirt, and I looked like somebody’s baby mama. This older man was just leaving, and he looked at me and my friend like we were two pieces of steak and he hadn’t eaten in days. He offered to pay for our lunch (whoa, big spender). We turned him down and my friend rightfully called him a creep to his face.
Some time later, me and my same friend were going to Taco Bell. There was this big gray van parked out front, and two men old enough to be my father were sitting in it. We passed the car, and the man in the passenger’s seat started yelling, “Ma’am! Ma’am! Excuse me! Come here, ma’am!” I ignored him and went inside, and did not leave until that car was gone. Looking back, I wish I had flicked him off or something, just to let him know that I did not appreciate being treated like a walking vagina.
I have a number of smaller stories, such as a friend of my roommate’s who called me ‘sweet thang,’ and a group of men at my apartment complex who made sure that I heard them compliment my ass. It’s truly disgusting behavior, and I wish that I did not have these stories to tell.
Submitted by Cheri
Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmas and the happiest of HOLLAdays.
I was out for my birthday with a friend. My friend and I decided to step outside and take my pool stick to her car so we could start dancing. As we were exiting the building, I see a man grab my friend’s ass. She batted his hands away and kept going. I looked the fool dead in the eye and told him, “Don’t touch me.” He made a move as if to grab my crotch and I grabbed him by the thumb, gave it a twist and started pushing him and shouting. When I had him pinned into the corner with his thumb in a tight bind, I asked him loudly, “Do you want to die in that shirt?!?” Then dislocated his thumb for him. He crumpled to the floor and the bouncer, who had witnessed the whole thing, started complaining that I had acted badly. I looked him in the eye and asked, “What would you want your daughter to do?”
The groper went to the hospital and the bouncer bought me a drink. My friend and I continued our evening not only unmolested, but treated with respect and dignity.
I’m not advocating violence, but sometimes you have to break the fingers that touch you.
Submitted by Jenna
As a bartender, I am verbally harassed all night every night by men of the lowest common denominator who assume that, because I am standing behind a bar, I am available, interested, easy, slutty, a drunk, would like nothing more than to go home with them at the end of my shift, am interested in hearing their comments about my body, enjoy being called sweetheart, muffin, baby, honey, and other fun names, and really get off on being blatantly mentally undressed by strangers for hours at a time.
When they are inevitably rebuffed, I am called no fun, uptight, stuck up, a bitch, or, if the person is of color, I may even be called a racist. Sometimes people get violent, throw things, make threats at this point, and the police have to be called–and of course, by the time they get there, my assailant is long gone. Many people have told me that I should expect to be the recipient of harassment because of my profession, the clothes I wear, the shape of my body, or for not being “tough enough.”
In actuality I am just a regular woman doing her job who considers verbal harassment a form of violence and intimidation. Lately it’s gotten really bad, not just at work, but at home in my neighborhood, on the train, on the street, wherever. If I am not with my husband–and sometimes even if I am!–it feels like I get harassed non-stop. It’s enough to make me want to leave New York sometimes, which I love.
It’s really hard for me not to internalize. It just bothers me so much. On those days when I’m really upset about it, I come to this site and it makes me feel a hundred times better. Thanks for giving us an outlet for our stories to be heard.
Submitted by Jackie
Wales’ government sponsored campaign at ending a rape culture of victim-blaming scores extra points this week from Hollaback. Stop Blame defines sexual assault as “unwanted sexual behaviour directed towards another person that causes humiliation, pain, fear, shame, intimidation or mental suffering,” and asks us to stop handing perpetrators the excuses they need to justify their actions:
“The rapist and society use the same, tired old excuses, time and time again-she was promiscuous, she was drunk, her skirt was so VERY short. She was asking for it.
Well here’s news – No matter how short her skirt or whether she put up a physical fight – No woman, or any of her actions, is responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted. No woman is EVER asking for it.”
Two new studies came out this week, solidifying growing global anti-harassment sentiment and activism as forces to be reckoned with. Studies cross-posted from Holly Kearl at Stop Street Harassment:
#1: In a study of 828 salaried employees in an unnamed city in Korea, 43 percent said they experienced sexual harassment during their commute, and 79 percent were women. Via The Korean Times:
“Nearly 72 percent of the incidents occurred on subway cars, followed by buses at 27.3 percent and taxis at 1.1 percent. Nearly 60 percent said they experienced harassment between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. when most workers are on their way to work, while 17 percent were between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. while returning home from work.
About 61.9 percent said at the time of the sexual harassment, it was too crowded for them to move within the subway train or bus. In response to the harassment, 43.2 percent said they did nothing about it, and 25 percent moved to a different place. Only 18.2 percent strongly protested against the assailants and 6.3 percent shouted in anger.”
#2: In the state capitol of Thiruvananthapurm in the south Indian state Keralaas, 1000 women were recently interviewed about street harassment. Ninety-eight percent said they had experienced it and 90 percent said the harassment was either physically or vocally violent. The harassment was notable on public transportation and 62 percent had experienced it there. Only seven percent had reported any of their experiences of harassment.
India’s study was sponsored in part by UNIFEM, Jagori, and Sakhi Resources Center.
As if she couldn’t get any cooler, here is Nicola Briggs on camera for Jezebel with tips and tricks for fending off those creeps. Oh yes. Oh fucking yes.