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Although I do not live in New York City, I was recently in a gas station near my school in a different city. I was buying a pack of gum before school with my mother and sister. I came in alone quickly. I walked up to the wrong register and the cashier smiled and said other counter. I am normally very friendly and polite so I smiled and said okay.
As i was buying the gum, the man had enough gut to say “You are very pretty. How old are you?” My smile quickly faded. As i turned deep red, I mumbled something and ran out. I was so mad that some random man could just ask me a question like that and assume it’d be okay. I felt very violated. i know that my story isn’t nearly as bad as most of the other’s, but I wanted to share it.
Be careful out there, girls. Even we are at risk. The harassment has already begun.
Submitted by K.
Last year, I was completing my year of study in Japan. My american friend Laura and I were in Tokyo for a week. She and her family (her father being Japanese) had come and invited me up to Tokyo to stay with them in the hotel so we could bond and I could act as their translator. One day, her parents decided that they were going to go to a temple and told us we would be left on our own. Now, the part of Tokyo we were in was near Roppongi, which is… a very shady part of the town (we didn`t find out how shady till too late), the hotel was a block away from the Russian Embassy.
We hung around the hotel for a while until we decided we would go out to eat. We were NOT dressed slutty in ANYWAY. I am a Muslim so I always wear my head shawl and a dozen layers of clothing. Not to mention it was wet and rainy so we had heavy jackets on. As we walked down the street we talked and tried to figure out what we were going to eat. As we passed by a McDonalds I heard someone say “Hi!”. I hadn`t heard English spoken in such a long time that I stopped, turned and looked at two men who were grinning at me and Laura. Laura and I exchanged a look, we had never seen either of these two men before, so we continued walking.
Then we heard “Hey! Wait up!” and the two men came out of the McDonalds after us. Instantly we panicked and took off running. The men FOLLOWED US. Laura, the faster runner, made it into the department store a block down while I was grabbed by the short One. The tall One went into the department store after Laura and dragged her back out. They started asking us questions, wanting to know if we would come with them to their apartment. They asked us if we would get in a car with them. They asked us if we wanted to “have some fun” with them. Now, mind you, Laura and I are 18 years old, in a foreign country, being forcibly held by two guys and no one is doing a thing to help us.
We try to get away but they just hold tighter onto us. The short guy was holding so tight onto my arm that it left a bruise. They kept feeling us up and asking us crude questions. We kept telling them that we had to leave and that we were going to go get something to eat. So they took us into a subway and bought us sandwhiches. They then managed to sit us against the wall so we couldn`t dash out.
They then literally made us eat the sandwiches, saying it was cute to watch us eat. It turned my stomach, especially as the short guy started to touch my thigh. After what was an eternity, a friend of theirs` walked in and they stood up to talk to them. I think they were high or something because their eyes were blood shot and the tall One was twitching alot.
Anyways, Laura and I then took the opportunity to escape, we ran out of there, literally knocking a few chairs over in our escape. Once out of the store we ran all the way back to the Russian Embassy to the safety of the security guards (who WERE armed, yay!). They watched out for the two men as we caught our breath, we then hurried back to our hotel where we asked the Manager to call the police. We filled out a police report and spent the last day of our trip in Tokyo hidden in the hotel room because we were too afraid to leave.
I have never felt so scared and threatened before in my life. I wanted nothing more than to escape from those two. If their friend hadn`t come in when she did I don`t know what would have happened to us.
Tonight I was walking home with a friend from a wonderful dinner/girls’ night out in D.C. Normally she would have just taken a cab and I would have walked home, since the restaurant was in my neighborhood.
But she was concerned about my safety (which I thought was silly, because that’s how I am) and we were engrossed in a good conversation. A few blocks from the restaurant, a completely trashed guy came up behind us and started walking along side us/just behind us, speaking loudly. “So, where you ladies been? Was it nice? Where you off to next?” I ignored him and kept walking, while my friend gave very abrupt, short answers.
Eventually, when it appeared he wasn’t going to back off, I stopped with my friend and told the guy to go on. He turned around and muttered something about us “being like that” and moved along. The entire thing was so jarring, a firm reminder of how vulnerable we were on that street. I couldn’t help but feel at once relieved that he hadn’t been more agressive and threatened by the idea that I could have been alone. I couldn’t help but wonder how that might have altered his behavior and I felt like a complete moron for thinking previously that I could walk home alone–clearly a luxurious privilege to which I am not entitled as a woman.
While I’m fairly sure he was just a drunk asshole and that either way it would have been fine, the entire thing was a reminder of how free men feel to violate women’s personal space and to continue doing so, even when it is very clear that they’re uncomfortable and not at all interested in pursuing the conversation.
It also pissed me off. I’m a grown woman. I shouldn’t have to feel stupid for considering walking home alone for five blocks in my own neighborhood. I also shouldn’t have to feel that I need to take a cab everywhere in the city not because I’m too lazy to walk, but because I’m afraid of the insensitive and unpredictable predators that I might find along the way.
When I got home, I found this blog by accident through Blogger’s Blogs of Note. I’m just sad it didn’t occur to me to take a picture, but next time, I’ll certainly try. This is a wonderful idea and means to give voice to the small disturbances and demeaning experiences women face all the time, and pretty much accept as part of their daily lives.
Dude, if you’re out there and reading this, you should be ashamed of yourself. I’m ashamed for you.
The first real incidence was when I was 12 or so, kneeling down looking at books in a bookstore. There was a man in sweats reading a book at the same section. I get totally absorbed when I read but he kept moving closer and closer. Next thing I know hes about 2 feet away and has a giant boner sticking out of his sweatpants. I quickly got up and went to a different part of the store (It disturbs me to this day that I didn’t do anything, perhaps because that man has or is molesting a child, and I could have done something to prevent that. I would like nothing better then to go back in time and change my reaction).
The second time it happened I was interning in DC. A man sat down next to me in the metro and proceeded to start asking me all sorts of questions. Did I like to party? What kind of partying? Do I like to have sex? How much do I like to have sex? The metro was extremely crowded and I was afraid of making a scene. I would have made a scene had it happened to me now. Then he started to try and touch my breasts. I jumped up and got the hell out of there. While I probably was in no actual danger, I felt disgusting and shaken.
The third time was a few weeks later when I was in London. My friends and I were in a large group because the premiere of The Last Samurai was in town and we were trying to get a glimpse of tom cruise. There were so many people and we were all crushed up against one another. All of a sudden, I realize that there is someone behind me trying to grab my breasts again, with one hand on my ass. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even tell which person it was, but I freaked out and got out of there quick.
These three accounts don’t even begin to describe all the catcalls and obnoxious words I have heard on the street while just minding my own business, trying to get to or from work up and down Third Avenue. It doesn’t take into account the hundreds of times I have seen men do it to women other then myself. The above stories were simply the most terrifying and disgusting.
I kept running away. Well, I am sick and tired of running away. Hollaback NYC has given me back what was brutally taken from me, and that is my respect and my power. It sickens me to think that these men think they have a right to demean a woman like that. What sickens me more is that I let them up until now. Who teaches them that such a thing is an acceptable way to treat an other human? It is just another example of how, in this world, women very often are not considered human. I have my camera ready to show them next time that not only am I human, but one who is able to Hollaback. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, and I am not giving mine any longer by being a passive observer of abuse.
Submitted by Katie
The recent most recent experience at work and here we go again, another “fortune 500, one of America’s Best Places to Work” and this creep starts in with the catcalling, etc. That quickly escalated to grabbing behind the neck and shoulders. Anything to make contact and get a squeeze. After my avoiding the person and keeping my husband at bay (no, an altercation at work would not be a good idea) I ended up going to HR and filing a complaint. It wasn’t just going to be my problem any more. Having to sit in front of my boss and the rep was embarassing. I couldn’t even admit to them at the time that he started touching me. They asked about witnesses and to tell you the truth, at the time that wasn’t my biggest concern . The “here we go again” light bulb didn’t go off in my brain. It was a busy day before Christmas and like everyone else, I was tired and a bit stressed out. Besides, I didn’t know at the time how quickly this would escalate. While sitting there, I felt almost as if they didn’t believe me and that in itself compounded just how badly I felt. My husband keeps telling me that I cannot imagine how wicked and warped some men’s minds can be. He is trying to protect me and all women with such a statement but getting too paranoid isn’t the answer either. Guess the lesson is to never let your guard down and don’t be afraid to speak up. Also, don’t deny the emotional damage and how it inconveniences your life. From my most recent experience, I felt angry, degraded, shamed, and frustrated. Not being able to just go to work and deal with the issues at hand without having to worry about how to avoid a confrontation and what the next surprise would be. Also, would I be labeled “a bitch” for being too thin skinned or overreactive? The point is, I felt violated and that in itself made it wrong.
Submitted by J.F.
Although this is not street harassment in the most literal sense, I thought you would find this interesting. I found the attached turd on my way to the grocery store this afternoon. Upon closer inspection I noticed that this is packaging for a phone card. A FUCKING PHONE CARD. I usually laugh at such “over the top” objectification of the female body, but this thing just made my stomach sink.
I’d much rather get cat-called on the street by some asshole than having to see this crap: at least I can yell back at a pervert (and/or send his picture to you guys). Shit like this (which displays the female body like so many breasts and thighs from a bucket of KFC) only encourages misogynist behavior.
Submitted by Miss H
Last year i used to have to walk to my highschool. Right across the street there is always a huge group guy just standing there. At first they didn’t bother me when i passed them but after my first few day they used to whistle at me and one of them even grabbed my ass. it was diguesting and i felt so violated. So i turned around and said ” Yea i know my ass is nice but that gives you no reason to teach it.” They all just stood there and stared at me.A few days later my friend who travels the same way as me but has to be in earlier told me that they had grabbed her ass a few times.sS I repoted them to the school security and we never saw them there again.
I’m a NYC resident, and was on a business trip in Memphis this weekend when I was assaulted. I wanted to send a post to Holla Back, because I feel like this will make me feel as if I’ve reclaimed some of my power. I can’t take back what happened and I can’t get it out of my head, I just need to tell the world what he did.
The story starts – I was at Graceland when it happend yesterday afternoon at around 1:30 pm yesterday with a friend. I was on a tour of the house with about 8 other people. If you havn’t been to Graceland, it is a museum of sorts. The house is pretty small and so the tour group gets herded from one room to the next. I was stopped taking a picture and leaning over a railing . That’s when I felt it. A man, about 40 years old, wearing a blue windbreaker and a buzz cut- walking past with his friend reaches UNDERNEATH ME, between my legs and grabs my ass and reaching the front of my crotch. He keeps walking. I whipped around to scream “Are you fucking kidding me?!?” and everyone in the tour was wearing those stupid tour-headsets and no one said anything. So, I walked into the next room following the guy and tapped him on the shoulder, I didn’t know what I was going to say – so I just kept tapping him on the shoulder. He pretended not to feel my tapping and hear my voice – and continued to take pictures. I asked him a few times “Are you fucking kidding me?! Did you just grab my ass??!!” and he didn’t respond.. I said it again and he responded “No, I was just taking pictures.” He turns around and looks at his child-molester looking friend behind him and asks if it was him.. and he just shrugs his shoulders. Walking around the room, I’m in fucking Elvis’s house here – mind you – and there’s a security guard right there, but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to make a scene more than I already had -it’s this completely silent room with a dozen strangers, and my ass and crotch were just grabbed. The feeling of a complete loss of power and thought and coping skills was just overwhelming. I went and told my friend (loudly) what had just happened and we stood there, in shock, me shaking – not knowing how to feel better about this. The guy was denying anything happened, and I just wanted to cry, but didn’t want to cry in front of him. So I thought it over and decided, it would be worse if no one believed me, or if he got angrier and made me feel worse, so I kept on going and just tried to avoid him the rest of the afternoon.. I think a security guard heard me talking loudly about what had happened, and so next thing I know, I have 2 security guards following me at a distance around the grounds. This made me feel even worse – I thought the guy had told them that I had threatened him or something, and felt so dirty and disgusting and as if somehow, I had done something wrong. I eventually, an hour later – saw him again and told a security guard what had happened. The guard approached the men, who again – denied it was them – and the guard came back to tell me – they had denied it. I’m sorry. I think they should have been kicked out, but it didn’t surprise me that they didn’t do it.
Ever since the moment I was grabbed, I have been replaying the situation over and over in my head, wishing I could have done or said something better than what I did. I wish I could have just kicked him in the nuts, or started screaming and cursing and telling him what a pathetic human being he was that not only does he grab stranger’s crotches, he can’t own up to it. Tell him that because he can grab people doesn’t mean he’s got any sort of power, in fact, it shows how pathetic and powerless he is. I have taken self-defense classes before, but at that moment I was defenseless, speachless. I’ve never been one to have a good one-liner waiting in the wings, but I really wish I had just this once. I’m proud that I at least had the good sense (thanks to some amazing women I know who don’t put up with any shit) to walk up to him and confront him. Hopefully that changed the power dynamic a little bit. I’m also proud that I eventually told a security guard. I guess all I can hope is that The King, up in heaven will defend my honor, I’m almost certain Elvis doesn’t allow sexual assault in his living room. I hope that he can make sure that fuckhead got run over by a go-cart from hell on the way home last night. Hopefully, the spirit of Graceland won’t be ruined for me – or maybe it’s time to move onto another hollywood home, something more empowering, like Dollywood. The worst thing about this, was this was not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. This was a particularly aggressive move, but it happens every day to women who were not ‘asking for it.’ Next time, however – if its on the subway, or in a crowd, or in a museum like this was – I will scream, and I will kick and I will punch that asshole and I don’t care if I’m making a scene or not.
Thanks Hollaback for doing what you do, and for making a space for me to reclaim my power.
Submitted by J