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This story is not about being harassed, though I have experienced that to some extent.
This story is about a time when I tried to express to my peers how bad it felt to be called out or intimidated by strangers because of my appearance or maybe even just because I’m a woman. I was perhaps 15 at the time, sitting in high school drama class. As a group (mostly girls) we were having a candid discussion with our teacher about self-esteem and about how important it was as a dramatic group to support and respect each other. Towards the end of class, this turned into an open-forum discussion where people shared how they felt about their appearance and how tough it was living with impossible standards of female beauty (this was also roughly the same group of people who took the Media & Writing class and a lot of us were new, passionate feminists).
I decided I wanted to express how it felt to be yelled at in the street, called pretty/sexy/a whore, and to be propositioned by strangers. I felt so ashamed over these incidents, disgusted, convinced somehow (I assume by systematic patriarchal programming) that it was my fault and I had somehow invited the attention. I’m sure many people would agree that it does not make you feel good about your appearance or your body, even if the attention is “approving.” So the one thing I didn’t feel about these incidents was pride.
I received overwhelming dislike and disgust from most of my female classmates and immediately after class several of them lashed out at me. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but they belittled my feelings of disgust and shame and overall seemed to feel that I should take it as a compliment, that I should be happy that strange men found me appealing in this way. They felt (perhaps justifiably) that it had not been the time to tell my sob story about being “pretty” when so many of them had been struggling with feelings of being “ugly.” They were very mean about it and started a bit of a smear campaign against me.
Perhaps they were right and it wasn’t the best time to tell my story. But what they missed completely was that it made me feel BAD about myself. This incident kind of perverted my view on street harassment for a long time, and for several years afterwards I tried to be pleased over the dirty little comments. When my drunken neighbours would hang out on the front steps of their building all day and yell things at me as I passed, I would try to smile (though most of the time it was more like a grimace). Looking back, I am now ashamed over the fact that I tried to enjoy the attention!
I’m not sure why I felt the need to post this here, but to this day it is the experience regarding street harassment that still hurts the most. I wonder if anyone else has experienced something similar? Did you fall for it like I did?
To the girls out there who may be inclined to smile or accept catcalls as a compliment – it’s not. It’s disrespectful and degrading. It gives them the encouragement they want or need to continue harassing people. I, for one, will never miss another opportunity to hollaback.
Ironically enough last month we had a sexual harassment class. You know when they tell you what is appropriate and what isnt. I thought oh that would never happen in my school. Little did I know that it did. As I was leaving early i see this three kids that were younger than me yet bigger (I am really small) walking up the stairs as I am going down.
I am looking at my phone texting a friend, when this kid calls back “i said hey”. I turn around thinking i might know this person, and i stupidly answered “i dont even know you” he starts getting all worked up saying that i should still say hi and not be rude. That just because im hot and he likes my curves doesnt mean i have to be a stuck up chick.
I just walked away and ignored him, but it bugged me. The whole way down the stairs he kept shouting stuff.
The worst thing is that if i report it the kid will prob just get a detention (if that). Cause my school (a catholic one) does the most retarded punishments, once a kid handcuff some grade 7s to a toilet, punishment: oh a 3 day suspension, no biggie. You steal something, oh no punishment if you give it back, no questions will be asked
New York Times reporters Joseph Goldstein and Tim Stelloh join a growing rank of journalists who don’t quite get it (a club founded by James McKinley, whose coverage last month of a young girl’s gang rape and the Times’ decision to publish it appalled the general public). By ‘it’ we mean how to cover news un-misogynistically.
Their coverage of the dead bodies found on Long Island suspected to be the work of a serial killer is mostly unbiased. But it is worth pointing out a subtle indiscretion since the New York Times is read by, you know, a fair amount of people. We wouldn’t want any of those readers going off thinking that a story about a ‘missing prostitute’ is any different or less than a story about a ‘missing woman’.
Tip #1: Replace all instances of ‘missing prostitute’ with ‘missing ___ (fill in with gender of person)’.
Tip #2: Cover a person’s profession later in the story if it is relevant (in this case it is) but don’t include this information in your lede when it isn’t necessary and might cast an unsympathetic sway on your readers.
Nicola Badass Briggs, anti-street harassment hero poster child, now works for Hollaback.
Currently accepting user questions—Nicola will select several of them weekly and respond personally.
If you didn’t catch video of Nicola responding to a sexual predator on a NYC subway and the amazing bystanders who helped stop the man and film the incident, you can catch up here. We’re reposting, because it’s THAT good:
Maybe Yale needs to begin offering introductory civil rights courses to its administrators—we know of a group of men and women who can help teach them. 16 students have filed a complaint alleging the school has systemically failed to adequately address incidents of sexual harassment and assault by other students.
And the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating.
The school risks losing federal funding if found in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”
We support the women and men at Yale who are working to make their campus a fair and equitable place.
Re-post this Associated Press article and help spread the word.
First off, may I say that I am 15 years old, and I have been harassed on the street since I was 12 years old! My most memorable experiences:
I was 12 and walking back from a Neighbourhood festival with a friend of mine and this beat up pickup truck drove by; some 40-something year old guy with a cowboy hat honked, and leaned out the window to shout some obscene remark to us and took off.
Two summers ago (age 14), I had finished up a play at the local high school, and a friend and I were walking to a Culvers a few blocks over. It was about 10:30pm and we had one block of a dark, deserted street. This Honda Pilot drove down the street, and we saw the driver look out his window, slow down, and deliberately whistle at us. He then drove to the end of the street, made a U-turn, and drive even more slowly past us AGAIN, and whistled once more. Luckily the director of the play pulled up next to us and asked if we wanted a ride, so we didn’t have to risk him passing us again.
This past summer (age 15), I was at a metro bus transfer point and was waiting for my mother to pick me up, and some guy started to walk towards me. The alarms went off in my head, so I grabbed my bag and walked to the Walgreens across the street. Lo and behold – he followed! I tried to trip him up by weaving randomly through several aisles, but he still followed. I finally ducked into the bathroom for about 10 minutes and waited till he left. He never said anything, but that was the creepiest part!
About two months ago (still 15) I was taking a bus out to my theater (I’m in a youth Shakespeare group) with a friend to watch a rehearsal because we had school off, and this guy was on the bus. At first he overheard us talking about the theater and asked some polite questions, but then he started asking our names and where we went to school, and it felt too personal. I shortly afterwards became homeschooled, and take a bus out to the school each day for a chemistry class. I saw him again frequently, and he would always smile and stare at me, and stand or sit in a way so as to always have a clear view. One time, in a nearly empty bus, he sat down right in front of me, then turned his entire torso around to face me, and smiled at me while staring at my chest. It wasn’t a glance, either – this stare was for several minutes! He never said anything, and didn’t touch, but his very presence and the way he was blatantly staring just made me feel violated. I finally told him “Okay, stop.” And got up to get off the bus (thankfully my stop wasn’t to far after he got on. I haven’t seen him since, but the experience always sticks with me as my creepiest.
A very recent one (this past Friday), I was on State Street with my dad and sister to see a movie as part of the Wisconsin Film Festival. It was about 9 at night, and we had stopped in a little market to buy my sister something to eat, and I stood near the door looking at magazines. As I was flipping through one, I heard something along the lines of “come here, sexy!”, I look up and there are some college age guys passing the door and staring at me. When they saw that I heard them, another leers at me and calls out “HHEEEEYYOOO” and they leave. It was unnerving – even if they couldn’t see my dad – that this would happen when I was with family, and even more that my dad didn’t hear it.
Other less creepy ones, but still unnerving nonetheless was when actors of my theater gather to perform scenes on Capital Square (during the Farmer’s Market) in order to advertise the Theater, there have been several instances when an elderly man would walk up and give me money – to “support the arts” they say – while leering at my chest. Some old sweaty man was staring a friend and my chests while trying to find out our schools and where we live. We brushed him off.
Also, once, when I was still in school, I was walking to my health class, and there were two classmates of mine and some random other friend of theres sitting on the floor in the hallway. I was wearing a dress that day, and the random guy leaned forward, then looked at my face and asked my name. I realized he had looked up my skirt (sucks for him – I wear shorts under all dresses or skirts).
One time I was at the mall and I went to a store in the food court to buy some water. I didn’t have the right amount of money with the tax added in (about 50 cents short), so I was trying to say “nevermind” and go somewhere else, when the guy insisted to chip in for me and wished me “a nice day, gorgeous” as I left. Slightly flattering if by someone my age who I knew, but out-of-line in the circumstance.
Last one: When I was still in public school, I was walking back to class from the bathroom, and there was this kid (freshman) standing in the hall with a friend of his. As I passed, he said “hey” and I responded accordingly. He then proceeded to plant himself in my path, forcing me to stop, and asked me how I was. I shortly replied that I was fine, annoyed by then. Not getting the message, he then decided to inform me that “I like how you mooove” in a ridiculous voice, making it clear he had been watching my ass as I had was walking by him. I gave him a dirty look and went around him, and that was the end of it.
I don’t get where men have decided that now, today, in the 21st Century, women are to be treated as pieces of meat solely there for the male viewing pleasure, and that we don’t care when we are catcalled, whistled, followed, “complimented” and in any other way violated. It’s awful that it’s become so ingrained in society that when I confided in a friend, she told me to “flip him off, laugh and let it be. It happens”. It happens BECAUSE we let it be! Unfortunately none of my incidents had been easy to report – or reportable at all, in the eyes of the cops – or had happened to quickly for me to actually berate, so they’ve gone without punishment.
Last Friday after work I decided to go for a run, it was a cool evening and it was starting to rain, which quickly turned to sleet and then light snow. I was less than a 1/4 mile into my run when I heard yelling — my ipod was between songs, otherwise I might have missed the specifics of it. There was a guy (I am assuming high school age) leaning out the window of a car on the other side of the street who screamed out, “Nice ass………WHORE!!!!!!!!!” I have to be honest, it wasn’t just the words that upset me, it was also how he said it — there was anger in his tone, and it felt threatening.
I tried to shake it off as just a bunch of immature kids with poor judgment and kept running.
Maybe a mile later I was on Beacon St in Cambridge when the same car drove by me again with this guy again hanging out the window screaming at me — I had my ipod cranked up so I don’t know what he said but the tone was, again, unmistakably angry & threatening. I was freaked out that this was the 2nd time they’d driven by me, and I was getting into less residential neighborhoods where there were fewer people on the streets — I had visions of the next time they drove past me, what if they pulled over? got out of the car? pulled me into the car?? I decided to listen to my gut, cut my run short, and turn around & head back for more populated streets & home.
Unfortunately I was not wearing my glasses & did not get the license plate #. I am getting over this but had an anxiety dream about it Friday night that involved me being cornered by a large man and calling for help that never came. I remain disturbed by the fact that somewhere, somehow, the boys/men in that car learned that harassing & threatening a woman in this way is somehow ok.
When I was 13 or 14 my parents and I moved to a new home and had a party to meet the neighbours. One of the neighbours (a middle-aged Caucasian man with curly white hair named David) introduced himself to my family, and took particular interest in me. He shook my hand and didn’t let go until my mom stepped in and made the situation awkward.
Later I was sitting out on the patio with some of the adults and he came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders, dug his face into my hair, sniffed, and said “I can tell you just washed your hair, Megan” (which was not my name). As a 19-year-old looking back on the situation now, I cannot believe that the other adults didn’t point out how incredibly inappropriate it was for an adult to smell a strange child’s hair, especially seeing as most of the adults that were present were parents themselves.
Later still he approached me to talk when the other adults had left the room, and got much too close for comfort. He was trying to invite me to come over to his house (by myself) so I could “help him walk his dog” or “work in his garden”, and every time I took a step backward to reclaim my personal space, he would take a step forward until I was backed up against a wall with no where to go.
When I told my parents about David’s behaviour, my mom told me she got an uneasy feeling around him as well, then went online to find out if he was a registered sex offender (he wasn’t as far as we know). My father, on the other hand, said that he was “just being friendly” and that “there couldn’t be anything wrong with him because he has a PhD and works as a professor at a nearby university”. I think that just goes to show how little men have to worry about this kind of stuff. Must be nice.
Salgo de mi casa, estoy apurada, no tengo temores, mi único afán es llegar al paradero sana, para poder coger un micro que me lleve directo a la universidad sin ningún inconveniente.
Al caminar por la av. Tinoco para dirigirme al paradero de la av. Panamericana, siento temor, temor, en este lugar siempre camino rápido, antes lo hacía escuchando música para salir de la realidad y no dejar que los otros me atormenten. Voy con unos zapatos altos que compre con mi mama en Miraflores un día anterior, voy con un vestido azul que me llega hasta las rodillas, ¿muy provocativa?, no lo creo.
Ahora estoy con los oídos abiertos al mundo y comienzan. Paso por una obra en construcción y comienzan, quisiera que en ese momento la tierra me tragara, quisiera estar vestida como las musulmanas para que ninguna parte de mi cuerpo quede al descubierto, malditos solo quiero que se callen y me dejen de molestar. Sigo caminando y mas trabajadores de construcción vienen en bandos, en grupos, muchos hombres pasaran a mi alrededor, mis odios siguen abiertos, quiero taparlos con cera, no quiero escuchar, me atormentan su comentarios tan groseros, quiero llorar, estoy sola, sola ante esa gran cantidad de hombres que me ven con lascivia. Me siento reducida, quiero recuperarme pero continúan uno tras otro, y ahí vienen más, diviso a más hombres, los miro fijamente pero esto no parece perturbarlos, más bien les gusta. Miro al suelo para que no se den cuenta de mi presencia, solo quiero llegar al paradero, solo quiero llegar al paradero sana y salva en mi moral, subir al micro, que nadie me moleste, tener un viaje tranquilo.
Por esta situación de acoso pasan muchas mujeres en el Perú y el mundo. Yo paso por esto cada vez que quiero ir al paradero a tomar un carro, cuando quiero caminar tranquila por las calles, hay hombres que ven a la mujer como un pedazo de carne apetecible y quieren apoderarse de ella. Comienzan a emitir palabras con contenidos sexuales como lo que me dijeron a mi esta semana “quiero hacértelo”, “que rica estas”. En una ocasión trataron de tocarme, pero gracias a mi reacción lo impedí. Desde los 12 años cuando iba al colegio en un micro y un hombre me quiso meter la mano, he sufrido acoso por hombres en la calle, acoso verbales y en algunas ocasiones se han querido sobrepasar.
Pero que se puede hacer contra ellos, si solo pronuncian esas palabras groseras y se van, ¿detenerlos a increparles?, yo cada vez que salgo siento miedo, miedo ante estas palabras miedo ante este acoso, por eso los odio, por eso tengo temor de caminar sola.
Acaso piensan que nos alagan con estas insinuaciones tan vulgares, porque no pueden dejar que una camine libremente por las calles sin que nadie te mire o moleste, esto daña, y daño en el fondo. Con esto han conseguido que me vuelva un ser listo para la lucha, agresiva ante estas situaciones, ahora no se puede confiar en nadie, ya basta.
Esto lo paso día a día, cuando me dirijo a cualquier lugar, yo no lo busco porque no voy con ropas provocativas, no me exhibo, pero ya basta de este acoso, estoy harta que los cobradores, choferes, taxistas, albañiles, trabajadores, obreros, molesten a las chicas. Porque las palabras te atormentan, de eso no hay duda, ya basta de este abuso verbal que solo hace que quieras desaparecer, ya basta.
La próxima vez que me suceda algo así mi reacción puede ser fatal, pero ellos se los buscaron con sus insinuaciones indecentes día a día.
Sitting in an almost empty bus. Another passenger, a man, gets up from his seat and sits next to me. There are empty seats available.
He presses his thighs against mine and tries to make eye contact.
I avoid his gaze. He sits like that for the entire journey. I cannot move.