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In honor of the first-ever NYC Council hearing on street harassment, we are posting the testimonies of high school students who couldn’t be there (the hearing is at 1pm) but were impassioned enough about the issue to submit written testimony.
Hello, my name is Taylor, I’ m a junior in high school and I’ d like to thank you for taking time out to host this hearing. This summer I was sexually harassed by a young man who eventually pulled a gun out on me when I rejected him. I was with two friends, both bigger than I, when he started hitting on me, saying things like “ Hey ma, what’ s good with you?”
My friends and I ignored him, but he continued to try, saying, “ Yo Shorty I’ m talking to you!” At one point I look so scared that my friend (a boy) intervened and told the man to “ Chill out, she’ s not interested.” The man then decided to yell at my friend and curse him out, screaming “ Yo who the f* * * are you? I’ m talking to her!” at which point he punched my friend. After me and my other friend (a girl) started freaking out and getting my friend away, we hear the guys friends go “ Yo, are you stupid what are you doing!?” When my friend and I turn around the guy was pointing a gun at me, while his friend was talking him out of doing anything too rash, at which point me and my friends ran away.
I do not expect the government to be able to stop things like this from happening, I do, however wish that they would pay more attention when women tell them a guy sexually harassed them because the man who harassed me could have done the same thing to someone else hours earlier. All I want to see happen is the government take action when someone comes in with a sexual harassment case, and for the people in our society to stand up for someone who they see is being sexually harassed.
I go to the fish market in Moss Landing about 1x a week on my way home from school. A few weeks ago, before I found this site, I was buying some fish when the fish market worker made a dumb as hell “That’s what she said” joke after I said that I thought that cut of fish was to thick. I laughed awkwardly not because I was uncomfortable but because the joke was just not that clever. Then he made another equally dumb joke (also that’s what she said). Finally, as I was paying he asked me if my breasts were real. I was stunned. Pissed and ashamed I walked out and called my boyfriend. I drove about a mile before deciding to turn around and report it to the owner of the market. I also told the owner of the repeated comments I face (and many other women I assume) from the bar tender next to the fish case about how he asks everytime if I have a boyfriend, when I am getting married, and finally it escalated to him saying he wanted to get me drunk “out back.” Enough was enough. I have not gone back and am currently trying to find a new place to buy locally caught fish.
Submitted by Elizabeth
I’m walking down the street at about 9:00 at night. I’m wearing a skirt and heels, because I am about to go out with my friends. While waiting at the intersection, a truck full of guys start whistling at me, screaming at me and generally acting like dicks. I shoot them a look, but they don’t stop. So, I kind of blew up.
“I AM NOT A PIECE OF MEAT, YOU UN-EVOLVED JERKWADS!” was exactly what I shouted at the top of my lungs. They stopped, and the car drove away.
Behind me, I hear a slow clapping sound. I turn around and there is a little old woman walking up behind me. I smiled and she smiled, nodded and walked on.
So, the moral of the story is that while the whole Mendenhall Street area is pretty bad for getting harassed, at least occasionally you will get applauded by old ladies for fighting back. :]
Submitted by Emma
I was going to the movies with my friend and he left his phone in the car, so he asked me to go back to the parking lot to get it while he bought our tickets. So I was walking in the parking lot when a car PACKED with jerks passes by me. And when the car gets beside me, they start slowing down. I was texting this whole time, so I really wasn’t paying much attention to them. Then they start shouting things at me like “HOLLA!” and being very rude and trying to get my attention. At first, I didn’t think they were talking to me. Then a lady who was walking ahead of me with her son finally turned back and shot the guys a look. They thought we were the only ones in the parking lot, but then they noticed the lady looking at them, so they were embarrassed and they sped off. That’s when I finally noticed they were talking to me.
As I passed by the lady she gave me a “those guys are such losers” type of look. I smiled. I think it was very kind of her to do that.
I had my phone in my hand, I wish I would’ve taken a photo of them!
Submitted by Vava
I think you’re really…
My first Hollaback ever after years of verbal harassment on the street. I knew that my time had come when this creep said, “Hey sexy” as I walked by. I am actually pretty surprised at how close I got to him when snapping his photo. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea, actually – he full on swatted at me and said, “Fuck you” after I took it.
Submitted by KD
NOTE: We at Hollaback want to emphasize that your safety comes first. Trust your instincts. Your story is powerful, but you shouldn’t have to get hurt to tell it.
I had forgotten cab fare one night, and was forced to walk home drunk from a party one night. I was walking with a slurpee in hand as I reached an intersection. As soon as I walked into the road the light had turned green, and I ran to the other side. A jeep slammed on the gas and zoomed past me. The passenger in the front seat screamed “SLUUUUT” out the window as they were turning.
Without even thinking about what I was doing, I threw my slurpee at the car screaming “FUUCK YOU”. I got a perfect shot and my slurpee hit the windshield of the car. The jeep stopped and the passenger got out of the car. He screamed “YOU CUNT WHY WOULD YOU FUCKIN DO THAT?” For a few seconds I was in complete of what had just happened until a random man on the corner said “Yeah you’re psycho thats totally uncalled for”. As the passenger used his sweatshirt in an attempt to clean the slurpee off the windshield I went up to him and said “You deserve a lot more than a slurpee on your windshield for what you just called me!” and I stormed off.
Submitted by Amanda
I was on the train to 34th street and this man got on the train. He took up so much space with his bicycle and then continually asked every woman to sit down next him. Most women said no and ignored him. Some retaliated when he shouted out to them. One woman felt so pressured that after telling him no four times, she eventually had to sit down because he insisted so hard (disguised with politeness).
To add to the obnoxious objectification and sexualization of women, he stared at two girls and kept rubbing his genitals. He continued harder by placing a bag in front of his crotch and then pushing into that to seem less obvious.
He also sang loudly to himself and seemed a bit crazy. I would not trust being alone on the train with him.
This happened on the 3 Train Downtown from Grand Army Plaza (Brooklyn) to 14th Street (Manhattan)
Submitted by Julie
This happened to me before I’d ever heard of this site. I was in a clothing store, and this guy decided to be particularly obnoxious, coming on to me hard. “Hey shawty, what’s your number?” I said, “Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to talk to strangers? I’m as strange as they come in this city. Besides, I don’t give my number out like that.”
“Well, how about your address?” I looked at him like, REALLY? “Uhm…seriously– do you really think I’m gonna give someone I don’t know my address?”
This must not have sat too well with Mr. Obnoxious. “Well how about I call you on your extension–the ones you got in your hair, bitch?”
It was true– I was wearing braids at the time. People heard him, and his boys were laughing. So I said, “I’d tell you to grow a brain, but your dick would be pissed cuz it would then be the smallest organ on your body.” I turned and walked away, hearing his boys laugh again, but at him this time.
Stuff like that happens a lot here. I have tons of war stories: I had a bottle hit a few inches from my head for ignoring a guy, I had my hair literally yanked and then brick fragments thrown at me for not responding to another guy’s advances. It’s madness…
Submitted by Gata
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