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I’m usually the person targeted for harassment, since I’m tall and multiracial (and confident), and therefore the most visible woman on any given block. But just now I witnessed an egregious harassment of another woman, and I followed up with the harasser, as I would hope others would do for me (but have NEVER done.)
A big man (at least 6’2″, maybe more, and maybe 220 lbs or more) lurched out of an alcove at a small woman (at most 5’4″ and 120 lbs, maybe 25 y/o or less) who was walking down the sidewalk. He went at her fast, but slowly enough that she could get out of his way. But, since he held his arms out in front of and behind her, she could only get out of his way by going sideways. He pushed her across the sidewalk and into a car, where she ducked under his arm and kept walking. She bumped into me because she was busy looking behind her at the man, who was leaning into the car, laughing at her.
This all happened too fast for me to react to it. Now, as you can tell from the photo and video I’ve included, the man is poorly dressed and dirty, clearly down and out, possibly a drug addict. I do understand the rage and the invisibility of men like this, especially when you add on the racial component and the pressure and invisibility that comes with that.
HOWEVER, it is NOT OKAY for an oppressed man to take out his rage on a woman, or on anyone who is more vulnerable than he is, or on whom he can become violent.
I had a few seconds to decide what to do. He was still lingering just a few steps ahead of me, adjusting himself to the success of his harassment. At moments like this, I have to figure out if I’m going to be harassed myself. If I see a potential harasser up ahead, I’ll generally cross the street to avoid them. But this time, I decided to take the initiative, because I was so angry about what he did to that woman.
I stood still on the sidewalk as I thought about it. During this time, a family of two women and two little girls came down the sidewalk and the man lurched out amongst them, although I’m not sure this time if he intended to scare them or if he was just substance-addled. But that was the last straw for me.
I pulled out my phone, switched to camera mode, and walked past him, glaring at him as I went. As I expected, he started to follow me, saying something to me (I don’t know what, I had my headphones on until I turned my camera to video mode.) I started snapping pictures of him and, as soon as he saw me doing it, he walked away from me. He kept ducking into the building alcove, hoping I’d walk past. I tried that one time, but he just came back out and continued following me, so I continued snapping pictures.
Then he turned down a street to get away from me. Unfortunately for him, I’d remembered my video camera and switched to video. I turned the corner and did a little interview with him, which you can see in the video. Of course, he denied it all. Too bad I didn’t get pictures of the harassment.
He took off down the street and I followed him for a block and a half. He kept looking back to see if I was following. I stopped taking pictures, but I kept my phone held up. Finally, he walked down an alley to get away from me and I let him go. I wonder if that’s the first time in his life he’s had the tables turned on him like that. He sure didn’t like being harassed or followed.
Let me emphasize here, though, that it was the middle of the day, there were lots of people around, and I’m pretty tall and imposing-looking. I don’t necessarily recommend that other, smaller women turn the tables quite so thoroughly on a big man who was willing to get physical with a woman. It could be dangerous.
To ensure that every bystander is as amazing as Claire, donate to the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. Claire has already donated, as if she wasn’t already badass enough.
Every day I take the Metrobus to and from my college campus in Austin, Texas. Our neighborhood is pretty far away and my stop is the very last stop that bus takes, and I have to change buses three times to get to and from school. One Wednesday afternoon, around four o’clock, I transferred from the second to the last bus. I had been waiting at the bus stop for a good twenty minutes, but when I got on, some guy appeared out of nowhere and got on with me.
He was in his mid to late forties, it seemed. He tried to sit next to me even though there were tons of other empty seats, but I shook him off. Instead he sat in a seat across from me, and attempted to talk to me in Spanish. I just gave him a look and pointedly avoided his gaze, though I could see that he kept staring at me throughout the fifteen-minute ride. I was infuriated.
He finally got off at the bus stop before mine, where a tiny subdivision is located. I breathed a sigh of relief and got off at my stop, located at a tax building across the street from my neighborhood. I crossed the street and got to the entrance, when I noticed a car that was driving very slowly into the neighborhood. When I approached, I stared into the car, heart beating faster as I slowly came to realize that it was the same man from the bus earlier.
He only drove a little ways into the neighborhood, then pulled a u-turn and drove out of the same entrance. I was walking in, and I looked into the driver’s side and it was the same man, giving me the creepiest smile I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. I had never known blood could literally run cold, but mine did that day.
He waved at me and pulled out of the neighborhood. I walked down the street backwards, watching his car. To my dismay, he was turning around at a stop-light and coming back my way. Horrified, I sprinted like mad to my house, thankfully fast enough so that he didn’t know where I lived. Nobody was home, and I hovered nervously next to the window. As I stared, the exact same car drove slowly around the street– He had been circling the neighborhood, looking for me.
I have never felt this outraged, violated, and humiliated. Knowing that he is practically my neighbor, that he would even try such a thing on a nineteen year old girl by herself absolutely infuriates me. That was a little over a few weeks ago, but I am still paranoid and I check that tiny neighborhood for his car every time I pass by, since I know he must live there.
Stories like this should never happen to anyone. Especially not 19 year olds. Help build a world without street harassment by donating to the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. The campaign ends July 7th, so act quickly!
Check out the CNN.com article called “Mobile Tech Fights Sexual Harassment!” The article profiles our campaign – and why it is so important. But without your full support, the campaign won’t happen. The end of our campaign is a little more than a week away, so if you haven’t donated yet, please do it now!
It was just gone half past ten at night, a Monday evening in Bristol and I was standing alone at the bus stop waiting for my bus home. I was texting on my phone. A drunk man approached from behind me – I don’t know how long he had been there but I’d been there about ten minutes. He called me “lovely phone lady” and tried to engage me in conversation. When I calmly gave him the brush-off he asked if I was a criminal lawyer (huh?) so I told him no, but actually I live with one – hoping to intimidate him but of course feeding his sense of entitlement to converse. After that I didn’t give him any conversation but he carried on regardless. He asked if I had a boyfriend and then he explained to me that I shouldn’t be out alone, that if I was going to get a taxi or a bus home alone it wasn’t safe, that anything could happen to me and that he would wait with me. I said firmly that I was perfectly fine and he should leave. He repeatedly asked me to tell him where I live. He asked me whether I watch “Midsomer Murders”. Perhaps he wanted to spook me or perhaps he is a bit-part actor in it. He refused to leave, told me he had sisters and he would never ‘let’ them travel alone at night. At this point the bus arrived and I told him again to go. Instead, he stood just by the doors as I got on the bus. I wasn’t going to ask the driver for my destination with him listening, so I stood there waiting for him to go away. He then shouted to the driver “Look after her” and “I love her”. I just stood there with my back to him. Then the driver asked, “Is he your boyfriend?” at which point I said no, he is a creep who I have never met before in my life. Only then did the driver close the doors and I could ask for my ticket.
This man invaded my personal space and my privacy. He assumed he had the right to do this – and to tell me not to go out alone at night. I happened to think he was a prick, but he had no way of knowing that I wouldn’t be very scared by him.
My girlfriend and I were waiting for a bus, and some guy kept standing really close and trying to chat up a woman. She was in a wheelchair, and the street was crowded, so when she was trying to inch away from him, he had a significant edge on maneuvering around, and kept getting close. I stepped in between, and asked him why he had to make people uncomfortable. He was more confused than confrontational, and I couldn’t really tell if he was on something or maybe didn’t have good English, but he didn’t really give any reasonable reply. Just some quiet mutterings. I kept myself between him and the wheelchair using woman (as well as my girlfriend) until we got on the bus. He got on after us (without paying), and was more towards the front than us, so it was basically done then. He got off a couple of stops later dragging his arm across a woman’s chest along the way.
I didn’t know if he was planning on following the wheelchair using woman after her bus ride or not, but I was extremely troubled that no one else took a stance as things were happening. And maybe I helped stop something terrible. It’s impossible to know. I was happy that I made someone feel (and maybe be) safer, but it’s pretty disheartening to think that this guy has an opportunity to harass people without much response.
Shouldn’t every story of harassment end just like this one? It’s possible, we just have to teach people how to do it and celebrate it when they do. Donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. Only 10 days to go!
I’ve been holla’d at several times in the street. It’s not new to me. Quite the opposite, actually. But the two instances that stick out to me I will recap for you.
The first one was when I was in eighth grade and walking home from school. I was crossing a busy road at an intersection, and as I was halfway across the street a black truck pulled up behind me. The cab was full of rowdy teenage boys. The boys started screaming at me to “get in the car little girl!” because “we have candy and puppies!”. This shocked me. At the time I did not consider myself a little girl. I look back on it now, and yes, I was young. I have a sister in seventh grade and she seems like a little girl to me, too. But the fact that these teenage boys thought it was funny to harass some strange little girl, it angers me. If they had tried that on me at this age, I probably would’ve screamed at them.
The second time was just last year for me. My bus stop was on an almost busy road. It was usually quiet there, and this bicycle path we call a “Ravine” opened up on either side of the road. Every day at about the same time this old man would drive by on his moped giving me this creepy “I’m so undressing you with my eyes and damn, I’d tap that!” look. It was unnerving, but not much I could do. After maybe two or three months my bus stop was transferred to the other side of the road and it would come a little bit earlier. I didn’t see the old man for a while after that. But I did see him once more. Me and some friends were walking down another street. The two boys of the group decided to remove their shirts and see who had the biggest manboobs (They were incredibly fit, abs and everything, so there wasn’t much to compare) and the old man drove by again. Not only did he check me out, but he oggled my guys friends as well. Needless to say, I did not enjoy being looked at by a seventy-something old creep.
It really sucks when people start doing this and you feel you can’t speak up. We need to put a stop to this. And thanks to these stories, I’m able to make up some good comebacks to certain holla’s. I’m creating my own arsenal of rude comments for those special “friends” of ours. We should all Hollaback!
To help build a world where everyone has the right to feel safe and confident in their own neighborhood, learn more and donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign.
BY EMILY MAY
Here’s a short video I made with my mom and my aunts this weekend in support of Saudi Women’s driving rights (and yes, I was raised by a pack of women):
Hollaback is partnering with “Honk for Saudi Women” and we encourage to to show your support by making a short video! Here’s how it works:
Videos take minutes to make:
1.) Just say you support Saudi Women’s Driving Rights
2.) Honk (if you can’t film in a car, just say “beep-beep”)
Upload to YouTube, send video link to [email protected] and put http://chn.ge/HonkForSaudiWomen in the video description.
US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has publicly expressed her support for “Honk for Saudi Women.” Saudi Princess Ahmeerah wants to drive; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly backs Saudi Women’s Driving Rights; and over 1500 people have asked Oprah to make a “Honk for Saudi Women” video .
Beep, beep! Let’s make a world where everyone has the right to walk or drive safely and confidently!
Help us reach our goal by spreading the word! Here are some suggested emails and tweets. And as always, thank you so much for your support! We couldn’t do it without you.
Email: A personal email from you is the most effective strategy. Here’s an example of what you could send:
Dear friends and family-
As you may already know – I’m a huge fan and supporter of Hollaback!. Hollaback! is an international movement to end street harassment (sexual harassment in public space). Over the past year the organization grown like wildfire to 24 cities in 10 countries, and it seems that this is only the beginning.
They just launched this new campaign called “I’ve Got Your Back.” The campaign is designed to get bystanders to intervene when they see someone being harassed. “I’ve Got Your Back” takes Hollaback!’s work to the next level by providing a real-time response to those who are harassed. How it works:
I’m really excited about this new campaign, and I think it has the ability to change the way we experience public space. Street harassment can be incredibly scary, and it disproportionately impacts young folks, women, and LGBTQ individuals. By having each other’s backs – we aren’t just providing real-time relief to people who are harassed – we are strengthening our community.
I hope you’ll donate. With every donation made to this campaign, Hollaback!’s Board of Directors will match it 1:1, so if you donate $25, it’s really $50.
Thanks so much in advance —
You and your awesome self!
Suggested tweets and status updates: Autoschedule a tweet a day to make sure your followers get the message, and don’t forget to tag us so we can retweet and thank you! Here are some suggestions:
Twitter: It’s gonna take all of us to end street harassment. Invest in it with @ihollaback’s “I’ve got your back” campaign: http://bit.ly/m7spul
Twitter or Facebook: I donated to @iHollaback’s “I’ve got your back” campaign and you should too!
Facebook: What if street harassment happened you weren’t alone? What if that guy at the other end of the train, or down the street, had your back? @hollaback!’s new “I’ve got your back” campaign is going to make this happen, but they need your help. Link: http://bit.ly/m7spul
Thank you so much for all your ongoing support and to all of you who have already donated! We’re gonna win this, and it’s going to be because of you.
Reposted from Hollaback Philly
Pride and street harassment against the LGBTQ community have been weighing most heavily on my mind this weekend, especially since I got a text from a friend on her way to Pride that read “Just crossed the NJ/NY line in the tunnel and couldn’t help but think how fucking strange it is that equality exists on one side of the line and not the other”. So, suffice it to say I was ecstatic when I saw a lesbian street harassment scene on my beloved show, True Blood, tonight!!
Which one makes me more of a nerd – that I’m obsessed with HBO’s True Blood, or that I paused the episode when I saw the street harassment scene so I could quickly transcribe it and post it for you all? No need to answer that question.
Scene: Tara is outside the backdoor of a venue (no one else is there) after winning a boxing match. The girl who lost the match comes out to where Tara is smoking a celebratory cigarette. They start kissing and a few seconds into their kiss, a drunk man approaches and starts staring, moans and interrupts them.
Man: “Don’t mind me. I don’t want to distract from the show.”
Girl: Looks at the man, and says “Go on, fuck off.”
Man: He walks toward them from behind the fence. “You taking requests? I’ll give you ten if you eat each other out, that’s what, umm, five each.”
Girl: -I couldn’t make out the first bit, but the last bit she says “I don’t take requests, but I can crush your spine so bad you’ll be sucking your own dick”.
Tara: holds the girl back, “It doesn’t matter, he won’t remember any of this tomorrow.”
Man: “I will if i get me some of that chocolate banana swirl how about 20 dollars
Girl: “That’s it, pervert, we’re not fucking prostitutes.”
Man: “Come on, everyone’s got a price.”
Girl: (angrily heads toward the man) “That’s it!” (Tara holds her back).
Tara: Walks right up to the man, and calmly says “I’m sad for you buddy. Sad that you gotta hassle women on the street, sad that you gotta make a asshole of yourself for the attention, sad that you gotta offer money cuz there ain’t nothing else about you that’s worth loving.” Takes the $50 bill. “That’s for me not reporting you for solicitation”.
If only she would have whipped out her cell phone, taken a picture of the drunken asshole, and Holla’d back to us!! Bravo HBO!
I was coming home on the train to Astoria around 4am from Union Square. I had two or three drinks at a bar, so I was leaning on the window frame instead of sitting up strait. I believe this is when my attacker noticed me. I first noticed him when there were few people left in the train besides he and I. He was seemingly around 24 or 25, slim, wearing a long grey coat and a hat with a brim, slacks and loafers. He seemed like a young professional also returning home.
He was sitting down in the seat slumped against the wall of the train, as though he was sleeping, so that I couldn’t see his face because of the brim of his hat. I now realize that he didn’t want to show me his face because he had probably already picked me out for attack. When we got to the 35th street station, there were only he and I left in the train. I got out, and he got out onto the platform with me, behind me. It was December and there was snow on the ground.
I felt a little bit creepy with him behind me and tried to walk as fast as I could to the stairs to get to the turnstile and the clerk in the booth. All of a sudden, I heard his feet running behind me. I thought he would run right by me, that he was in a hurry. I was wrong.
He tried to tackle me to the ground from behind, encircling my arms and the top half of my body. I am deceptively heavy and strong, so he was unable to take me down. As soon as I felt this, I began screaming at the top of my lungs “Noooooo you don’t! Oh noooooo!”. I twisted about 4 or 5 times and broke his grip on my upper body.
I stood straight up and tried to see him, but he was out of my view. I had no time to do anything else because he jumped toward me and began punching me in the temples. I was struck about 5 times hard in each temple, as though he were a boxer and my head the bag- just that fast. I was stunned for a second in which he grabbed the collar of my jacket from behind and pulled me to the ground. I felt myself going down and shrieked the loudest scream of my life that went on for over a minute. I rolled on my back and kicked over the top of my head towards him, and he jumped away. I flipped my legs down and continued to scream and scream. Finally I was silent, just looking at him. I got my first glimpse of his face- he had the hood of his coat over the upper part of his face, but I could see the lower part of his face. He had huge lips, that was the only distinguishing feature I could make out.
When I went silent, he stood looking at me and then said in a quiet, wooden tone “shut up, bitch. shut up.” He then reached down and grabbed my purse which had fallen on the ground, and then trotted away with a gait that I swear looked like a jackal.
Luckily my house keys had fallen to the ground in the scuffle, so I still had them. I grabbed them off the ground and walked down the stairs to the booth with the subway clerk. I said “I just got attacked, didn’t you hear me scream?” The clerk didn’t say anything to me except “I call police” and then let me sit in a small room. I was shaking uncontrollably, and crying. My boyfriend at the time came to get me.
The police showed up and asked for the guy’s description. They drove me around the block once but didn’t see him and gave up trying. They were a joke. They then called the ambulance which came to pick me up, and I was charged $500 for this, to go 3 or 4 blocks to the hospital. I couldn’t pay the bill and it’s still on my credit rating now. I know I should have applied for it to be paid by the city but I couldn’t do that at the time because I went into a deep depression after this happened.
I was taken to the hospital and X rayed, and it was found that I was ok except for bruises on my temples. The guy had been trying to go for a knock-out blow, that much is clear. What would have happened if he had succeeded? I don’t want to think about that. I will always feel deep in my gut that this attack was sexual in nature, because if it was just a robbery or an assault, why knock me out? Why the push to get me on the ground? I think it was a rapist who wanted an unconscious victim.
I am an artist so I drew a picture of the lower portion of my attacker’s face that I saw. I brought it with me to the police station when I went in. They refused to accept it. They said it would draw all kinds of suspects who were not responsible- WTF??? There’s not too many men out there with lips, jaw and nose exactly that shape, and that particular color and that weight. It’s unbelievable that they wouldn’t accept my drawing.
They also classified what happened as a mugging, not an attempted rape. They said there was no evidence. I couldn’t believe what jerks they were. I looked for him in a book of suspects but didn’t see anyone I thought looked like him. I was never called back about this by anyone- but I was harassed for months about the bill for the ambulance, X-rays, etc. I never paid them.
I had anxiety for three years after this happened, but after a period of about 6 months of extreme good health and yoga every week I was able to alleviate that. It took a lot from my life but I reclaimed my life. But every once in a while when my head is tilted as it was when I was on the ground looking up at my attacker, I get a stab of anxiety. That head position will trigger it.
I have fantasies of seeing my attacker on the street and bashing his head in with a pole or bat, or zapping him with a stun gun and then kicking his head in. He definitely deserves it. What was he going to do if he knocked me out? Carry my body somewhere? Assault me and then roll me onto the tracks? This man deserves Hell, and I will surely give it to him if I ever find him.
If you believe in calling sexual harassment what it is, stand with us as we demand accountability from law enforcement and invest in a future where women and men are safe on the streets, Click here!